Archive for the ‘movie reviews’ Category

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Deadpool 2 (2018) and more

May 29, 2018

I’m so far behind on movie reviews I’m just pump them all out now before I head to Vegas.

Deadpool 2 (2018) – Lacks the fresh feel of the original, but it’s nearly as funny and entertaining. Cable and Domino are great additions, there are some amazing cameos, and Ryan Reynolds is still perfection as Deadpool.

Replay Value: I wouldn’t watch it a second time in theaters like I did with the first one, but I’d certainly enjoy a second watch sometime down the road.

Sequel Potential: I see Deadpool 3 and X-Force have been announced, both with Ryan Reynolds attached as Wade Wilson/Deadpool, but no concrete release dates or any other details yet.

Oscar Potential: None.

Dina Meter: Dina seemed to mostly enjoy this.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Wind River (2017) – A gritty, murder mystery set in chilly Wyoming featuring a great performance from Jeremy Renner, this is a movie I really liked but absolutely need to see again because I was absurdly tired while watching it and don’t feel like I appreciated the experience as much as I should have. Writer/Director Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water) has proven to be quite the brilliant filmmaker.

Replay Value: I want to watch this again immediately.

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: Many considered this film one of the biggest snubs of last Oscar season when it got zero nominations.

Dina Meter: I don’t think Dina disliked this, but I don’t remember her being too into it either.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable) *I think this might be a Must See but I need to watch it again

Thor: Ragnarok – Lots of fun. Easily the best Thor movie and one of the funnier Marvel movies to date. Taika Waititi was an inspired choice for director and his comedic touch made this movie substantially better than its predecessors, even as the story dramatically raised the stakes on Asgard. Chris Hemsworth gives his best performance as Thor to date and Cate Blanchett was great as the villainous Hela. The reveal of The Hulk would have been a lot cooler if it wasn’t included in the trailers.

Replay Value: The only Thor movie I feel is worth watching more than once.

Sequel Potential: Thor just appeared in Avengers: Infinity War and will be in the next Avengers movie as well, but who knows after that.

Oscar Potential: None.

Dina Meter: She was a fan.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Good Time (2017) – I gave this one of the most disrespectful watches I’ve ever given a film. First, I rented this movie and let it sit around my house for nearly four months before finally trying to watch it and then I watched bits and pieces of if over what must have been 6-7 viewings over a two week span. Needless to say, whatever I have to say about it needs to be taken with a grain of salt. The story is about two brothers that rob a bank and wind up separated when the mentally handicapped one of them falls behind and gets arrested and the other one spends the night trying to keep his brother out of Riker’s Island prison. It’s a pretty grimy movie and the two lead characters aren’t likable at all, although Robert Pattinson is terrific in his role. I didn’t know he had it in him. The way the score is done reminded me a lot of It Follows – it’s jarring and loud and definitely increases the tension of the picture. This movie made it on my radar by appearing on a number of top ten lists and I don’t think it was nearly that good, although I can’t say I got the full experience either.

Replay Value: Not really something I’d want to see again.

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: None.

Dina Meter: No way Dina would make it through this one.

5/10 (Decent)

Amateur (2018) – This was a Netflix movie I decided to watch because it was about basketball. Not much to see here. It’s about a junior high phenom that becomes a victim of the dirty politics that can happen when parents and coaches exploit young athletes. None of the performances are noteworthy and there are only a few cool basketball moments. This was a pretty forgettable flick and not even a must see for basketball fans.

Replay Value: Basically zero.

Sequel Potential: I can’t imagine.

Oscar Potential: None.

Dina Meter: Dina could probably tolerate this but I can’t imagine she’d like it too much.

4/10 (Forgettable)

Super (2010) – Before James Gunn became a household name with Guardians of the Galaxy, he made a very little seen flick called Super. Rainn Wilson stars as a regular guy that decides to become a superhero after his wife starts preferring the company of a drug dealer. This movie has similarities to Kick-Ass in that a regular dude with no powers decides to dress up in a costume and fight crime, but this movie isn’t as outlandish and the humor is darker. Ellen Page is a scene stealer as Crimson Bolt’s foul-mouthed and absurdly eager sidekick. This movie is certainly worth a watch.

Replay Value: Worth seeing more than once.

Sequel Potential: No sequel yet and unlikely to happen.

Oscar Potential: None.

Dina Meter: I’m honestly not sure about this one.

6/10 (Fun)

Spotlight – This Best Picture winner might be a bit overrated by the Academy. While I enjoyed this newspaper movie about The Boston Globe uncovering a massive child molestation scandal in the local Catholic Archdiocese, it’s actually my least favorite of the seven 2015 Best Picture nominees that I’ve seen. Rachel McAdams and Michael Keaton give solid performances, but Mark Ruffalo is guilty of some serious over-acting in this movie, yet somehow snagged a Best Supporting Actor nomination. This is a good movie, but not 2015’s best film by any measure.

Replay Value: Mostly a single watch type of film.

Sequel Potential: None.

Oscar Potential: Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay winner. Also nominated for Best Film Editing, Tom McCarthy for Best Director and acting nominations for McAdams and Ruffalo.

Dina Meter: We both thought this was good, but not great.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

May 2, 2018


Director: The Russo Brothers (Captain America: Civil War, Captain America: Winter Soldier)
Starring: Half of Hollywood

I’m going to attempt to do something difficult and review a movie that a) I feel like I need to see again before I have a firm grasp on how I feel about it and b) I’m not sure I can say much about without spoiling things. Here goes…

This is what we’ve all been waiting for. If you’re still with Marvel at this point, then Avengers: Infinity War is as big as it gets. My friend I saw this movie with is a comic book fanatic and I’m pretty sure seeing this movie ranked somewhere in the top five most anticipated moments of his entire life. This is where we’ve been headed since Robert Downey Jr. first became Iron Man all the way back in 2008 – when Marvel completely changed the movie-going experience by creating a massive shared universe that has stretched over a decade now. And if you’re still eagerly awaiting Thanos’ arrival on Earth then chances are it’s going to be very hard for Avengers: Infinity War to disappoint you.

But that didn’t stop Age of Ultron from disappointing, did it? Admit it, that was arguably the worst and most forgettable film in the ten years of Marvel’s nearly flawless run of box office dominance. It was also at that point that Joss Whedon passed the directing baton to the Russo brothers, whom have proven to be the most adept filmmakers in the MCU, with both Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War ranking in the top five Marvel movies to date.

I’ve actually read some criticism of Infinity War saying that it lacks character development. Something along the lines of the characters just show up and get involved in the story. What. Yeah, I forgot about the last ten years and previous 18 movies that have led up to this point too. Outside of Thanos, basically everyone else involved has had multiple movies worth of character development. We don’t really need it here. Hush.

So the basic premise here is that Thanos is the biggest and baddest dude from space and he has obtained what I believe is called the Infinity Gauntlet and he is after the six Infinity Stones that can be placed in the Infinity Gauntlet and when that happens, he can unlock unrivaled universe-erasing power. Not that he needs it: in the first sequence of the film, Thanos puts a severe beating on a few heroes and proves that The Avengers are already no match for him, Infinity Gauntlet or not.

It’s pretty easy to see how earth’s mightiest heroes get pulled into the fracas. If you’ve seen all the movies that have led up to this point (and you should have) then the following are not spoilers: Vision has an Infinity Stone in his forehead; Loki likely has an Infinity Stone and he’s currently traveling through space with Thor and the few surviving Asgardians; Doctor Strange has the Time Stone; and two other Stones are in space with people we’ve seen the Guardians of the Galaxy interact with. Needless to say, Thanos will have to go through some Avengers and possibly some Guardians to get all the Stones.

So that’s the gist of the plot and I have to say the execution mostly doesn’t disappoint. Infinity War is wonderful cinematic spectacle. At over 150 minutes and with a massive amount of characters to include, the film manages to be engaging and juggle screen time quite effectively. Sure, some of our heroes get less screen time than others, but when it comes down to it, this is Thanos’ movie anyways. I think I actually may have stepped out of the theater to use the bathroom at an inopportune time – particularly, when Thanos explained his reasoning for wanting to obtain the Stones and erase half of the universe’s population. So I really can’t comment on his motives, but if anyone wants to destroy half the universe, there’s probably a good reason for it, right?

I definitely enjoyed my first viewing of Infinity War. Like most Marvel movies, it blends action and humor to perfection and all the key players have an opportunity for a WOAH moment.

While Infinity War packs all the necessary punches, it also had a number of eyebrow-raising and eye-rolling moments. There are quite a few moments in the movie where a character has to make a tough (yet incredibly easy, all things considered) decision and makes an idiotic choice. What kind of hero would jeopardize the fate of the entire universe for one life? A shitty one. One that will be hard to root for in the future. Also, there’s a point where Doctor Strange looks into the future and says something along the lines of in 14 million possible outcomes, The Avengers only win in one of them. Is that really necessary? 1 in 14 million? When everyone in the theater knows the actual chance of an eventual Avengers victory is 100%? Do we need to be insulted like that? And if Doctor Strange can see into the future, and knows the one path to victory, then what is really at stake here? Nothing.

And that brings me to something I can’t really talk about. What I will say is that the film had no emotional impact on me. There are supposed to be huge moments of shock and sadness and I felt nothing. Because none of it seems real. None of it seems final. Because of the Soul Stone and the Time Stone and the nature of comic books, I just have a hard time believing that anything of massive consequence that happens in this movie can’t just be overturned at the snap of a finger. And because of that, my only emotional response was PFFFFFFT.

Still, I definitely enjoyed the movie. Fans of the genre should love it – and they do: it’s currently sitting in the top ten all time on IMDB’s Top 250 list (and that’s just absurd). If you haven’t been a fan of the MCU, this movie won’t change your mind. I’m looking forward to seeing it again and wonder if my opinion of it will change at all.

Replay Value: I’m ready for my second viewing already!

Sequel Potential: Avengers 4 has already been shot, I believe.

Oscar Potential: None?

Dina Meter: My wife enjoyed it.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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Blockers (2018)

April 17, 2018


Director: Kay Cannon
Starring: John Cena, Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz, Geraldine Viswanathan, Kathryn Newton, Gideon Adlon

Wasn’t expecting much out of Blockers other than to laugh a bit and be entertained and it mostly delivered on those fronts. The premise here is three lifelong friends making a pact to all lose their virginity on prom night and their parents discover the pact and set out to stop them – and hopefully hilarity ensues. I laughed pretty consistently, but not uproariously. One of the worst things about comedies is they tend to get really stupid and outrageous but most of the stuff in Blockers was within the boundaries of reasonable, with one exception: the butt chug scene they hint at in the trailers. I mean… really?

John Cena definitely has some comedy acting chops. He’s the best thing about this movie, but the three main adults all have pretty good chemistry together. The kids are way less interesting, but Geraldine Viswanathan, Cena’s daughter in the movie, gives a confident and promising performance. She might be worth keeping an eye on. The other two girls were more or less forgettable in their roles.

I don’t have much else to say about Blockers. It’s a decent and entertaining comedy, with a touch of heart to it, but nothing anyone needs to see.

Replay Value: I can’t imagine wanting to see this again.

Sequel Potential: Blockers has basically doubled its budget, but it’s not exactly a huge hit either. There’s certainly no need for a sequel, but if this crushed at the box office they would obviously make one.

Oscar Potential: Zero.

Dina Meter: I’m honestly not sure. I think it was entertaining enough that Dina would enjoy it, but it’s not like she’s missing out if she never watches it.

6/10 (Fun)

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A Quiet Place (2018)

April 11, 2018


Director: John Krasinski (Brief Interviews with Hideous Men)
Starring: John Krasinksi, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe

We have a new favorite for best film of 2018 through the first 14 weeks of the year!

I wouldn’t have guessed that Jim from “The Office” would be a good candidate to direct a horror thriller, but much like Jordan Peele and Get Out last year, we have an actor known for comedy directing a horror movie to perfection. Not only does Krasinski craft one of the most tense films I’ve seen in recent memory, but he also gives a solid performance in a lead role that requires very little humor and comes across very heroic.

The premise of A Quiet Place is that the human population of earth has been wiped out by some sort of monster/alien creature that can’t see but hunts by sound only. We are introduced to a family with Krasinski and Emily Blunt as mom and dad, respectively, and their three kids, and follow their story of survival, as they live life within the confines of never being able to make a sound and the film wastes no time in letting the audience know that their lives are genuinely at stake. The opening scene creates an incredibly tense atmosphere that doesn’t let up until the end credits and will keep audiences on their toes for 90 minutes straight.

You have to wonder… at what age does a child fully grasp how vulnerable they really are and what is at stake every waking moment of their lives? And who would bring a newborn into this world? Not just because it seems impossible for a baby to survive in a world where you can’t make a sound, but why would anyone purposely procreate in a world where your lives are at stake every second of every day? I have to admit that I was surprised and perturbed when I saw that Emily Blunt’s character was pregnant, but SPOILER ALERT the scene in which she gives birth is truly incredible. I suppose it’s best not to question the how of her pregnancy, but conceiving in this environment seems like an incredibly risky task! I do think that Krasinksi and his team of writers (and movie mom and dad) handled the complications of having a newborn quite delicately and managed to raise the stakes without raising more questions or getting into unbelievable territory.

I was very impressed with A Quiet Place. It was scary and tense all the way through. The monsters looked amazing! Both Krasinski and Blunt were terrific and the kids also gave strong performances, particularly the daughter. This is probably the most satisfying 2018 film I’ve seen so far this year and I’d consider it a must watch for any fan of the horror or thriller genres, but A Quiet Place is more than a scary movie; it’s also a film about family and survival and forgiveness. Unless you absolutely can’t stand scary movies, I think this is another must see movie for 2018.

Note: First off, anyone that brings a baby to a movie is pretty selfish and kind of an idiot. Find a sitter or stay home. But someone that brings a baby to a movie called A Quiet Place is just a straight up asshole. It’s right in the title and in the trailer that this movie is going to be very quiet and sounds from the audience are going to be very unwanted. I felt guilty eating popcorn! I’m not confrontational at all, but I really had to contain myself from saying something to these morons. Perhaps it’s because the baby wasn’t that bad; for the most part, it was pretty quiet and only had short bouts of crying throughout the film and only one really bad stretch, but it was still very distracting and in a movie that is almost entirely built around suspense and a taut atmosphere, distractions from the audience are unforgivable. What jerks. Thank you, baby, for being mostly tolerable.

Replay Value: This would be fun to watch again.

Sequel Potential: There is definitely potential here, especially since there was zero explanation about the creatures. Where they came from, what they are, etc. On the other hand, this is a movie about the family, not the monsters, so I don’t think it was made with sequels in mind… but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood before.

Oscar Potential: A Quiet Place lacks the social and political commentary that made Get Out an Oscar contender, so I suspect this movie won’t get much attention next awards season, but it’s my top film of the year so far, so maybe? The monsters are definitely worthy of Visual Effects consideration.

Dina Meter: Dina hates scary movies, but sometimes I force her to watch the really good ones and A Quiet Place will be no exception. I suspect she will hate the experience but will appreciate the movie. I’m just going to tell her it stars Jim from “The Office” and looks really funny.

8/10 (Must See)

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Ready Player One (2018)

April 3, 2018

Directed by: Steven Spielberg (E.T., Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Jaws)
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Rylance, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg

This movie was a lot of fun.

It takes place in the year 2045, when most of the world spends their free time in a virtual reality world called OASIS, where players can go anywhere they want and do anything they want (i.e. climb Mount Everest with Batman!). Because of the limitless possibilities, filmgoers will be in for loads of nostalgia as popular 80s and 90s pop culture icons are common choices for the gamers’ avatars. In the first 10 minutes or so, I saw Freddy Krueger, Batman, and Jason Vorhees – and the references never stop. This movie is littered with them and there’s no way you’ll be able catch them all on your first viewing. Plus, there’s a sequence in the movie that pays homage to Stanley Kubrick that is utterly fantastic.

The gist of the plot revolves around the creator of OASIS passing away and leaving behind a number of Easter eggs and keys for players to search for with the final prize being complete control of OASIS. There’s definitely a bit of a Willy Wonka thing going on here. We are introduced to a group of ragtag gamers that quickly become the favorites in the contest and they are in a race against the big bad corporation IOI to the finish line for control of OASIS.

Most of Steven Spielberg’s action-adventure film takes place in OASIS and is computer animated and we see the film’s heroes as their avatars much more frequently than we see the human actors. This is probably a good thing. Tye Sheridan plays Wade/Parzival, the film’s main hero, and his time spent as Parzival (his avatar) was much more interesting than when the film focused on his human life. Sheridan doesn’t do a bad job here, but his performance is missing something that I’m having a hard time putting a finger on. Wonder? Life? I dunno, I just thought he was a little on the dull side and kept thinking they should have found someone better. The supporting cast is much better. Olivia Cooke is fun and sexy as both Art3mis and Samantha. T.J. Miller does some funny voicework playing a scary and formidable-looking avatar but giving the character a self-conscious and silly tone. Ben Mendelsohn checks in with his standard slimy bad guy role as the head of IOI and does some of his best work to date.

The animation in this movie is spectacular and I imagine that Spielberg’s crew is in line for some Oscar attention. Ready Player One certainly works best when we are in OASIS and taking in the action from that point of view, which is kind of ironic because there’s definitely a message in this film that we need to be less “plugged in” and more in tune to the real world.

One thing about Ready Player One that I either missed or didn’t fully grasp was the role of IOI. I know the corporation is technically the bad guy, but I didn’t understand what the real world consequences were if they won the contest or how they became a known evil empire that is somehow allowed to operate unchecked by any sort of political authority or law enforcement. I remember there was a scene where actual police officers show up in the real world and I was like “wait… what?” And what exactly does the company do? Help women get pregnant? Maybe a second viewing answers these questions for me, but a movie can’t be truly great if you finish it and you’re not sure why the bad guy was the bad guy.

Still, Steven Spielberg can tally up another successful adventure film full of spectacle. The director has a long history of making these types of films and leaving us with an all-time classic. Ready Player One doesn’t reach those heights, mainly because of an average lead actor and unclear consequences, but it was still very enjoyable – especially considering it clocks in at almost 2.5 hours – and the film is visually great and the nostalgia factor enhances the fun. Hard to imagine anyone being too disappointed with this movie – it checks most of the boxes – and it gets a solid recommendation from me.

Replay Value: I did not watch this in 3D and I wonder if that was a mistake. It seems like the kind of movie you would definitely want to see in 3D. That might make it worth seeing again in theaters. I would watch it again regardless though.

Sequel Potential: This was based on a book and I’m not sure if there are more novels in the same world, but it’s easy to imagine how they could continue this story.

Oscar Potential: Seems like a cinch for a Visual Effects nomination and could get some editing and sound love. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it up for Best Score. I wonder if it will qualify for Best Animated Feature. If so, that could be a nomination, but it wasn’t strong enough to get Best Pic or Best Director nods.

Dina Meter: I think Dina would like the spirit of this movie, but because of the animation and the fast and furious action, she might not be able to handle it. She doesn’t do rollercoasters, 4D rides, or watch movies in 3D because she gets motion sickness, so Ready Player One might be too much for her – even without the 3D.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

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So Many Movie Reviews! Three Billboards, Phantom Thread, Game Night, Lady Bird, and more!

March 28, 2018

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) was a movie that I immediately wrote off when it was announced, but as the release date approached, I was intrigued enough to check it out. It was fun. All the main actors are funny and I was laughing through most of the movie. I wish there were more animal encounters, but I can hardly complain about this sequel – it was better than it had any right to be. Anyone interested in watching this shouldn’t be disappointed.
Replay Value: It is fun enough to watch again, but unless Dina wants to see it, that probably won’t happen.
Sequel Potential: Can you believe this grossed $400 million in the United States alone? To put that in perspective, that’s just under the combined box office receipts for Justice League and The LEGO Batman Movie. It did more business than Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spiderman: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok! Unreal. So yeah, lots of potential for more Jumanji.
Oscar Potential: Zero nominations.
Dina Meter: My wife would have definitely enjoyed this movie.

6/10 (Fun)

Phantom Thread (2017) was more high level filmmaking from director Paul Thomas Anderson. Daniel Day-Lewis gives his typical powerhouse performance, although this one has quite a bit less dazzle than some of his best work. Still, his high strung and OCD fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock is another very memorable DDL character. The writing, direction, and acting are all very well done in this film, but fair warning, it does get a bit weird towards the end. I doubt general audiences would be enthralled, but those of you that enjoy more artsy films should find a lot to appreciate here. Phantom Thread is a film that is already making me reexamine my new movie ratings because it doesn’t seem to fit the “Highly Enjoyable” or “Fun” categories, but it was certainly a better film than Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
Replay Value: I would take this journey again.
Sequel Potential: Zero.
Oscar Potential: Acting nominations for DDL and Lesley Manville, plus Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Score, and an unsurprising win for Best Costume Design – it is a movie about a fashion designer!
Dina Meter: Definitely not Dina’s kind of movie and if she did watch it, she would have been out in the last half hour.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Lady Bird (2017) was a lot of fun, but I have a confession. The trailers for films are so long these days that I no longer make it a priority to be in the theater when the movie is supposed to start. The actual film almost never starts until 15 minutes after its listed showtime. Well, I walked into Lady Bird over ten minutes late and the feature presentation looked like it was well in progress. Walking in late to a Best Picture contender is inexcusable and I think it may have hindered my experience ever-so-slightly. Still, I definitely enjoyed Lady Bird. Saoirse Ronan was absolutely terrific and her character, while a flawed teenage girl trying to figure things out, was one of 2017’s best movie characters. Laurie Metcalf was also great as Lady Bird’s mother. On the other hand, this movie was a good contrast for Timothee Chalamet’s performance in Call Me By Your Name. After seeing him in this, I’m upgrading his performance in Call Me By Your Name to truly phenomenal. I give Lady Bird a strong recommendation and I feel like I owe it another watch myself.
Replay Value: High on my list to see again immediately.
Sequel Potential: Seems very unlikely.
Oscar Potential: Five nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, plus Saoirse Ronan for Best Actress and Laurie Metcalf for Best Supporting Actress.
Dina Meter: I am looking forward to watching this with Dina and I am sure she will like it.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

The Post (2017) was an enjoyable politically-charged newspaper thriller with a standard Oscar-worthy performance from Meryl Streep and lots of quality work from the rest of the cast. The story of a government cover-up and a small newspaper putting everything on the line to publish the conspiracy was actually quite a bit more entertaining than I was expecting. It’s still difficult for me to picture The Washington Post as the Oakland Athletics of the newspaper world, but this movie has a bit of a Moneyball feel to it. I tend to prefer Steven Spielberg’s adventure spectacles, but at this point, I think you have to give the guy credit for being very adept at making political thrillers.
Replay Value: Not really a movie I’m looking to watch more than once.
Sequel Potential: N/A
Oscar Potential: Two nominations: Meryl Streep and Best Picture.
Dina Meter: I think she’d like The Post.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) might be one of the most polarizing films of 2017. I’ve seen people say it was the best film of 2017 and I’ve seen people say they hated it. Honestly, it’s a tough film to rate. There was definitely times during the movie when I thought it was the year’s best film. Frances McDormand gives my favorite performance of the year – of that, I am certain. Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson also chip in with exceptional performances. Much like the film itself, Rockwell’s unhinged police officer is one that is likely to divide audiences. He’s an idiot and a total loose cannon that seems to have no leash and there seems to be no good explanation for his free reign of destruction. The character is rather despicable but Rockwell’s acting is off the charts. I loved him in this movie. Three Billboards is brutal, shocking, and full of twists and turns and will possibly leave audiences shaking their heads or unsatisfied, but I thought it was great. McDormand and Rockwell give two of my favorite performances of 2017 and the plot, although absurd at times, is insanely entertaining. This movie is a total spectacle and a must see in my books.
Replay Value: I am looking forward to watching it again.
Sequel Potential: Almost none. I guess it’s possible, but I don’t see any reason to continue this story.
Oscar Potential: Seven nominations: Best Picture, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Original Screenplay, and Woody Harrelson, plus well deserved Oscar wins for Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell.
Dina Meter: I have no clue where my wife will fall on this movie, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

8/10 (Must See)

Game Night (2018) was tons of fun. Absolutely Hilarious and totally unexpected. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams were terrific and had great comedic chemistry. Jesse Plemons is also hysterical every time he’s on screen. I mean absurdly funny… like I laughed through almost every second of his screen time. Game Night twists and turns so much you’re never really sure what’s real and what’s not (and neither are the characters in the movie) and it doesn’t get so outlandish that it becomes ridiculous. This would have been the best comedy of last year and after a brief glance it looks like I’d have to go back years to find a straight comedy that I enjoyed more than Game Night. If you missed this in theaters, make sure you check it out on home release – it’s a must see comedy and very fun flick.
Replay Value: Comedies are best the first time, but I’d happily watch this again.
Sequel Potential: Successful comedies always have sequel potential.
Oscar Potential: None.
Dina Meter: If Dina doesn’t love Game Night I’ll be shocked.

8/10 (Must See)

Annihilation (2018) is writer/director Alex Garland’s follow up to his terrific Ex Machina. I don’t know. There’s a good movie in here somewhere, but I didn’t love it. Annihilation is intriguing, at worst, and there are some thrilling moments when the women enter The Shimmer and encounter some strange beasts, but the last 20 minutes or so of the film are definitely going to lose viewers. I’ve read a number of people that loved this movie, but I’m among those that were kind of boggled after Natalie Portman reaches the lighthouse. Ex Machina was a bit weird too, but I think it was substantially more palatable than Annihilation is. The cast here is okay, but nothing remarkable. I’ve read enough good things about Annihilation to know it has an audience, but it was a slight miss for me.
Replay Value: Debatable.
Sequel Potential: I believe this was the first adaptation in a series of novels.
Oscar Potential: A February release and a divided audience are going to hurt its chances, but I suppose a Best Adapted Screenplay could be a long shot.
Dina Meter: I think making Dina sit through this would ruin her day.

5/10 (Decent)

Red Sparrow (2018) did not grab me at all. To be fair, I was incredibly distracted while watching it, as I explained in this post, but even if I was focused on the movie, I don’t think I would have been impressed. This is the least inspiring performance I’ve seen from Jennifer Lawrence to date and none of the characters I saw were interesting or likable at all. I walked out of this movie probably less than halfway into it.
Replay Value: I will probably give this a second chance on home release.
Sequel Potential: $44M in gross with a budget of $70M is a dud. Let’s just stop now and let J-Law focus on meatier roles.
Oscar Potential: More like Razzie potential. Seriously… drawing live IMO.
Dina Meter: Dina could probably stomach this movie if she were multitasking.

3/10 (Bad)

Game Over, Man (2018 – Netflix) was a comedy I was looking forward to since it was written by and starring the dudes from “Workaholics,”, but this is stupid comedy, not smart comedy. Game Over, Man relies on shock value and grossout humor and while it has some funny moments, it’s mostly just really dumb. It’s basically Die Hard with three idiots instead of Bruce Willis and a posse of forgettable bad guys, none of which have the charisma of Alan Rickman. No idea how this movie has a 5-star rating on Netflix, but I expect that start plummeting as more people start watching it. This movie wasn’t trying to be good, but it also didn’t succeed very well at being silly entertainment. You can safely skip this, unless you enjoy bad comedies and a lot of people do.
Sequel Potential: There was a sequel teaser similar to the credits of 22 Jump Street. No idea if it’s a real thing or not, but it probably shouldn’t be.
Oscar Potential: None.
Dina Meter: Dina was laughing before she fell asleep, but so was I. I’m confident she would have lost interest too.

3/10 (Bad)

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Black Panther (2018)

March 1, 2018

Directed by: Ryan Coogler (Creed, Fruitvale Station)
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, Martin Freeman

Thoughts: What a huge movie. An absolute colossal success and a groundbreaking film in terms of showing that an almost entirely black cast can produce monster box office numbers. Ugh. I hate typing that sentence. I shouldn’t have to. But one can’t ignore the fact that this sort of opportunity has been sorely lacking in the past and Black Panther will surely open doors and possibly knock them completely off the hinges.

Ryan Coogler and his team really did a wonderful job creating this film. The fictional nation of Wakanda is stunning and fully realized and does as much for empowering women as it does for black people. In Wakanda, women are the fiercest warriors and protectors of the realm, and T’Challa’s sister is the head engineer in advanced weaponry and gadgetry. There’s been some buzz in the industry the last few years about casting a black James Bond, and Black Panther has a lot of 007 in it.

The main conflict in the film is that Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger believes that he has a claim to the throne in Wakanda and challenges T’Challa. Killmonger’s motives and backstory provide some conflict in the viewers as he’s a rare villain that you can possibly sympathize with.

The cast in this movie does a brilliant job, with Jordan being the highlight and Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright also giving strong and fun performances.

Black Panther is a film that fires on all cylinders and provides a thoroughly entertaining film experience. It’s definitely a crowd-pleaser. I had a blast watching it and I hope it’s just as much fun over multiple viewings. I can confidently say Black Panther ranks in the upper echelon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – possibly as high as #1 – and the presentation of Wakanda and the film’s groundbreaking nature make it a must see in my book.

Replay Value: If I didn’t have so many other movies to watch before the Oscars, I would have seen this again by now. I’m looking forward to a second viewing and I suspect it will hold up pretty well. It is a film I will want to own.

Sequel Potential: The film’s success will certainly fast-track a sequel. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it released in 2020. T’Challa should be playing a significant role in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War films.

Oscar Potential: I called multiple nominations for Get Out at this time last year and I was right on most of them. I feel less confident in Black Panther‘s chances. This film’s strongest cases are probably in the Production Design, Costumes, Visual Effects, and Sound departments. Michael B. Jordan has already got some Supporting Actor buzz, but he probably won’t get a nomination.

*Dina Meter: My wife would have enjoyed this movie.

8/10 (Must See)

*I’m adding a new element to my movie reviews. I don’t expect everyone to have the same taste as me. Someone asked what my favorite movies of 2017 were and my first response was The Shape of Water and the person I was talking to said he hated it. My friend I saw it with didn’t like it much either. I feel like my wife is a pretty good measure of what a casual filmgoer will like or not like. She tends to not enjoy the more obscure films that I like. With that in mind, I’m implementing the Dina Meter, where I will sum up what she thought about a movie or what I think she would have thought if we didn’t watch it together.