Movie Review: The Hero


It is about time there is a movie that is about the reality of show business and especially an actor who was part of the “lucky few” and in later years, because of some bad breaks or the fickleness of the audience or producers who decide that you are no longer viable, the career you once depended on for a happy life and financial independence are long gone. A recent great example of this is the tragic story of actress Erin Moran, who died at a young age after having such a promising career in the 70’s and 80’s because of the TV series Happy Days. After Happy Days and the failed TV series Joanie Loves Chachi, which was a very bad show, she no longer had any future in show business and probably had to learn that harsh reality the hard way over a period of many years. Like so many young actors before her, Moran did what she was told and performed in that bad TV show and because of that, she paid a horrible price by being associated with a bomb that ultimately ruined her career in show business. For many people like Moran, the realization that its time to give up the dream may happen for them, or may never happen, leading to many years of hardship and unhappiness when you can never stop remembering the glory days when you were on top of the world.

For the majority of human beings, careers and financial future are very often in the hands and decisions of other people. This is especially true in the world of shot business where every job requires some an audition and competition where you are up against many other actors. Rejection and humiliation are part of your world, perhaps for your whole life just because of your desire to be an actor will never go away. I admire those actors who are able to go through years of this rejection, never giving up and having to take horrible and menial jobs to support themselves for years because their dream is so strong. A good example of this is the great TV actor Sterling K. Brown of “This is Us”, who proved that just because you are a great actor, it does not mean that your opportunity will come quickly or will ever occur in your lifetime. There are those who make it and stay on top, those who never make it and like the main character in this movie “The Hero”, those who make it and then falter and never achieve those heights again. Perhaps this last possibility is the worst one to endure because once you think you made it once, you will always long to achieve those heights again.

The movie “The Hero” is a story about an actor Lee Hayden, played by Sam Elliot, who is 71 years old and achieved great heights and even a TV show in the 70’s and 80’s and now his only chance at making a living is making voice over radio commercials. He still has fans from his days when he was making popular Western movies and even a TV show, but now hs career is essentially over. He decides to accept a lifetime achievement award from some Western movie association while becoming involved with a woman, played by Laura Prepone who much younger than he is and is employed as of all things, a stand-up comedian. There are health issues and realizations that his career is mostly over and one audition where Elliot gives his best performance of the movie that I thought was very impressive. Lee Hayden also has a daughter, played by Krysten Ritter and their relationship is understandably very strained due to Hayden’s divorce and being an absentee father, which is another very common drawback of trying to be an actor.

The best moment in this film for me was when Hayden tell his girlfriend that the second thing to go when you get older is your memory and when she asks what the first thing is, he says, “I forgot”.

I thought both the story and the acting in this movie were very well done and I do recommend this movie.

Movie Review: Transformers: The Last Knight


The good news is that this is the fifth and last time Micheal Bay will direct a movie in the Transformers movie series that started in 2007 with the original Transformers film. While trying to understand why all of these Transformers movies are so bad, with the possible exception of the first one, my explanation is that the computer graphic scenes are probably produced first through several different software vendors and the screenwriter later tries to connect the computer graphics scenes to some kind of disconnected nonsensical story. This means that essentially all of the Transformer movies are developed backward. For me, this would explain why nothing makes sense in these movies and there are no connections between scenes or any kind of flow or respect to the audience so they can follow what is going on. Is it possible to produce a good movie that is all about special effects with no story? The answer to this question seems to be obvious to everyone, except Micheal Bay. I actually think a better movie would be a documentary about how the computer graphics for movies like this are made and perhaps some filming of the production meetings that lead to the creation of this horrible movie because I am very curious about how a movie monstrosity this bad could ever be created.

Michael Bay should take a page from all the Disney cartoon movies, where the story and screenplay are paramount and include years of discussions and storyboarding. These Transformer movies throw all sense of continuity and logic out the window, not caring to create any kind of a story to connect scenes or help with the understanding of what is going on. Eventually, you slowly fall into a sort of a coma and I actually dosed off for about 20 minutes during this mess, probably due to some kind of subconscious self-preservation. What is worse about this latest movie in the Transformer franchise is that it runs for almost 150 agonizing minutes. All of these Transformer movies should be run as a loop to torture prisoners in Guantanamo Bay because sitting through them is a nightmare. More amazing is that this movie is the worst one of the 5 and Bay seems to outdo himself with each new movie but in the wrong direction.

When this very bad movie was finally over, I remembered feeling very angry because I had wasted 2 1/2 hours of my life sitting through this mess. The budget of 217 million dollars for this movie was money that could have been put to far better use and people who are bad at their jobs will become much more wealthy. A great deal of the money that comes from these movies are the toys and the young kids who just want to see robots fighting and so it seems that everyone involved with these 5 movies only cares about the easy money and never about creating a movie that has some meaning or even a story. I think I was most angry because I know that this Transformer movie will make a great deal of money and that will encourage more very bad movies like this one.

Mark Wahlberg is once again the star of this latest Transformer movie, also appearing in the last one. Clearly, Wahlberg appeared in this movie for the money and there is nothing wrong with that, but at some point, integrity and pride should be more important than money. What does not make any sense is why the great actor Anthony Hopkins is in this movie. One would think that Hopkins has more than enough money and would care more about his reputation at his age than money. Hopkins role and his decision to appear in this terrible movie just make no sense. The only bright spot is the appearance of a young 16-year-old actress Isabela Moner, who has movie star looks and might have a very promising future as an actress, despite the mistake of being in this God awful film.

This movie should be avoided by everyone including small children because it is that bad.

Movie Review: 47 Meters Down


They say there is a sucker born every minute. When it comes to thrill seeking and risk taking, it seems there is also an idiot born every minute. Why would anyone want to risk their life or any of their limbs for the temporary thrill of swimming near a shark? In this movie, the divers are in a shark cage, which is supposedly safe, but is it really? Stupidly, there are actually trips you can take when you can swim with sharks, which is very hard to believe. Here is one website that talks about 8 different places where you can swim with sharks – click here. People think they are experts and understand everything there is to know about sharks, but nobody can guarantee that one moment in time will kill you or cause you to lose a leg, your arm or worse. So why take this kind of risk with your life, or your limbs? I hear about celebrities swimming with sharks all the time and each time I wonder how low their IQ is, especially considering how much they have to lose.

The movie “47 Meters Down” is about 2 sisters, played by Mandy Moore and Claire Holt, vacationing in Mexico who decide after meeting two other Mexican men to dive into a shark cage to look at Great White Sharks. From the title you can tell that the shark cages breaks off from the boat and sinks to the bottom of the ocean floor, 47 meters down, and the rest of this movie is nothing more than a series panic-stricken of events as these two women try to save their lives before they run out of oxygen or are killed by the many sharks that are swimming overhead. I found this movie extremely annoying because watching the stupid decisions of these two women as they desperately tried to save their own lives was infuriating. Even allowing for the extreme circumstances and the panic anyone would feel under these conditions, it seemed that every strategy or idea to escape from the bottom of the ocean was born out of making this movie more suspenseful, rather than making any basic common sense. What wrecks this movie, which could have been a good one, are the dumb stupid decisions that everyone involved made in order to rescue these two women who are the bottom of the ocean. Ultimately, no two women in their 20’s would dive into a shark cage in some old broken down ship in Mexico in the first place, but without this first stupid decision, there is no movie and after sitting through this annoying two hours, I wish there was no movie. There is a strange plot twist and trick at the end of this movie that also did not work. Perhaps they threw that in to rescue a bad movie at the last minute.

I cannot recommend 47 Meters Down because the story and the decisions made are too ridiculous and annoying to sit through.

Movie Review: The Book of Henry


This film is going to be hard to review for several reasons. The first reason is that it is difficult to talk about this movie to any extent without revealing too much about what happens in the story, which is something I will never do in this blog. The second is that many other reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes did not like this movie, thinking that the story, especially how it unfolds at the end is too outlandish to believe or even be plausible. It has been rare in my experience that my opinions are so far away from average reviews for a movie in recent memory and regardless of these opinions, I thought The Book of Henry was a very well developed and well-acted movie that I definitely recommend.

What I liked most about “The Book of Henry” is that it makes you think about how you would react to extreme situations and extreme grief. The intense and involved story makes you think about what true justice really is and what is the right thing to do when facing politics and people who are supposed to do the right thing, but instead turn their head away because they are more afraid of facing consequences than even saving a child’s life.

This story is mostly about a child genius named Henry, played by very well by Jaeden Lieberher, his mother Susan played by Naomi Watts and his younger brother played by Jacob Tremblay. Henry’s genius is so profound he is really the adult in the family, handling everything in the household, especially the finances. His mother Susan plays video games all day and Henry handles all the household responsibilities and she insists on working in a low-paying local waitressing job and driving a broken down old car, despite the fact that the family is financially well off, probably from a divorce although the source of their wealth is never revealed. I thought the depiction of Susan’s intense frugality was very unique and a refreshing look into the real value of money. Susan’s close friend at the restaurant is played by Sarah Silverman and her boss is played by Bobby Moynihan and I thought that both of them played their parts very well.

For the critics who think that the story of this film too outlandish or implausible, perhaps they do not buy into the Einstein level of genius of the 12-year-old boy who creates a plan and writes an illustrated notebook to save a child’s life. I also thought that this part of the story was a stretch, but based on the extreme nature of the crime involved, to me, it all made sense in the end and lead to a very satisfying conclusion.

I highly recommend The Book of Henry.

Movie Review: Rough Night


The movie Rough Night is what is known as a black comedy. I have never been a fan of black comedies, mainly because they involve gore or death and I have never understood how that could be considered funny. This movie was not funny, not by any stretch was it funny. Nobody laughed in the audience I was in and I sure didn’t laugh. I was more surprised that Scarlet Johannesson was in this movie than I was interested in the story or the bad plot, that involved the accidental death of a stripper and a whole series of stupid events that even included Johannesson’s boyfriend wearing an adult diaper to drive over a long distance to get to his fiance to find out of she still wants to get married. What the hell were they thinking with this part of this very bad movie?

This movie is raunchy, very stupid and worst of all, not funny. They also thought to give Kate McKinnon an Australian accent in this bad film perhaps thinking that because her part was so unfunny that this accent would fix her part. It didn’t. Going in I sure didn’t expect Rough Night to be a good movie but I did not expect it to be this bad. The only thing the producers of this movie managed to pull off is to make a very talented Kate McKinnon unfunny. The only notable thing about this movie.

Miss this movie as its a waste of two hours and not the least bit entertaining.

Past Movie Review: Interstellar


For many movies, a great deal can be realized just from the previews, and I remember the movie Interstellar was no exception. What everyone could tell from the previews of this movie was that a former Astronaut who is now a farmer had to go into space to somehow save the world, but he had to leave his young daughter and son behind. Even from the previews, I could tell that there were going to be moments scenes of profound emotion in this movie and the one that stood out the most was when the Astronaut, played by Matthew McConaughey had to leave his daughter and was driving his truck away from his home and she was running after this truck, desperate to try and get him to stay. I thought it was rare that an emotional scene like this would be in a science fiction movie and when I saw Interstellar in November 2014 I thought it was one of the best movies about space travel I had ever seen. We all go to movies to experience emotions outside our own lives and to try and imagine what we would do when faced with huge obstacles. How many of us would be able to risk our lives and never return to Earth for the one remote chance to save not only our own family but even the entire world?

The problems with this film actually start after the first hour and the rest of the movie was set up by circumstances of the world no longer able to grow food and it is suggested that this is because of Global Warming. I thought the advanced physics and time travel concepts involving wormholes were all very impressive, but many times towards the end of this movie, several events and explanations started to not make any sense. For these reasons, Interstellar started to remind me of the movie Contact that was released in 1997 which started out with great ideas and special effects and at the end degraded into a very unsatisfying ending. The idea of a 4th or a 5th dimension, a time portal into a room from the distant past all were so outlandish that for me it almost spoiled all of the great things about this movie. It is obvious that the director and writer of Interstellar, Christopher Nolan wanted people to talk about and try to figure out this movie long after they had seen it. But in order to accomplish this goal, too many events at the end of this story just were either ridiculous or made no sense. In my opinion, the ultimate goal in telling any story is to make it feasible, enjoyable and understandable and this is why screenwriting is such a difficult art form.

Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain also star in this film along with John Lithgow and Michael Caine and they are all excellent in their roles. In my opinion, the impressive parts of this movie and excellent acting outweigh the flaws that all come at the end of the story. I definitely recommend Interstellar.

Movie Review: Megan Leavey


At the start of this very good movie, I remember thinking what a huge shame it is that so many young people, through some accident of birth, were born into a poor family with virtually no way out of a bleak existence and they believe that their only alternative is to join the military. There is always a ton of money that is available to train people to kill other people, but there is far too little money to rescue the lives of so many millions of poor people, whose potential is forever lost just because of the meager circumstances under which they are born. The only caveat to this military option is that you may get killed or maimed, blinded, lose one or several limbs or have permanent PTSD that you never recover from. Apart from this, the job training that you were promised when you joined whatever military service you decided on, may not be a skill that could ever parlay into an actual job in the real world. How many jobs can you get after you leave the military when your only skill is repairing a tank? Once you’re in, you do what you are told and there is nothing you can do to control your own future. You are the property of the United States and other people dictate your future and that includes whether you live or die starting the first day you join the service. My thinking while watching the start of this film was why can’t we invest our money into the potential of a young person who has no viable future, instead of making this deal where maybe they can have a future and some money, but only if they risk their lives first.

The new film Megan Leavey is a true story about a young woman, played very well by Kate Mara, whose life after high school is a disaster. Living in a poor town with her mother and her boyfriend and a product of divorced parents, she wanders through bad jobs with no future until she realizes like so many other young people like her, that her only option is to join the Marines. A great scene in this movie was when Megan’s mother actually asked her daughter how much money she would get if Megan was killed in Iraq, confirming how bad her childhood must have been. What follows is the verbal and physical abuse of boot camp that eventually leads her, after getting punishment duty due to a public drunkenness incident, to cleaning out dog cages. The dogs in this part of the Marines are bomb smelling German Shepards whose special skills are badly needed in Iraq and Afghanistan and have saved many lives. What this movie makes clear is that these military dogs are as valuable and important as any soldier in a war and there is no such thing as “just a dog”. After begging her commanding officer and passing all of her exams to get the opportunity to be a dog handler, Megan Leavey finally gets her chance when another soldier is not able to handle the most difficult of all the dogs, named Rex. The greatest part of this movie is the friendship and bond that develops over time with Megan and Rex and that love grows understandably much stronger when they both face the extreme adversity of the war in Iraq. All of this leads to a very emotional ending that I thought was one of the best conclusions to a movie about the love of dogs I have ever seen.

That acting in Megan Leavey is outstanding and I think there is a chance that Kate Mara might actually receive an Academy Award Nomination. I highly recommend this movie.

Movie Review: The Mummy


There had to be a phone call during the time this movie was under consideration for production some years ago. Someone must have said, “well the script is really not that good and the story is rather poor”. The response probably was, “people love zombies and mummies and explosions and we can put an expensive plane crash scene in this mess, so who cares about the story”.

The truth will always be the same with movies; you just cannot throw expensive special effects at a bad script and expect anything but a bad movie to be produced. The ratings for The Mummy on Rotten Tomatoes are a very low 17%, so the odds are that this movie will probably not be received well enough to warrant another Mummy franchise are high. The first Mummy franchise was released in 1999 starring Brendan Fraser and I thought that movie was much better than this one.

The only scene that held my attention in this film, as I almost dozed off twice during the two hours, was the plane crash scene that was shot using the famous Vomit Comet that has been used so often to shoot weightless effects in movies. After the plane crash, this entire film is very quickly reduced to a series of chase scenes involving Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis who is an archeologist and a resurrected mummy queen named Ahmanet, played by Sofia Boutella. Russel Crowe is also in this film playing none other than Dr. Henry Jekyll in a role that was probably only created to increase the audience for this below average film with his fans.

This movie was a big disappointment and most likely a huge opportunity lost because it is likely that the critics will destroy any chance this movie may have in spawning a sequel in the next few years. Unless you’re a huge fan of zombies, this movie can be missed.


 

Movie Review: Wonder Woman


The ratings for the movie Wonder Woman are extremely high; 84% for IMDB and 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. While I agree that this is a good movie, I do not agree that it as good as these very high scores. This movie has very good special effects but a story that is not exceptional enough to consider this a great movie. The story of this film is essentially about good vs evil and in this case, the evil is Germany in World War 1.

An air force captain from England, Captain Steve Trevor, played by Chris Pine, flys through some kind of a time portal into a world of Amazon women while escaping from German soldiers who soon arrive in this strange ancient world. Within this Amazon world, the evil force they are fighting is someone named Aries. After a battle between Amazon women and the German soldiers from World War 1, it is decided that Diana, played by Gal Gadot will return to the Steve Trevor’s world of world War 1 and her reasoning is that she wants to kill Aries. What is not clear at this point is why Diana aka Wonder Woman does not realize that Aries does not exist in the World War 1 world, despite her obvious intelligence including being able to speak 10 languages and obviously going through a time portal. It is also not fully explained where or how this time portal came to being in the first place, although some meager explanation is offered at the end of the movie. Another interesting thought I had is that if Wonder Woman has huge powers by clicking her bracelets together, why does she waste so much time and take so much risk getting involved in so much hand to hand combat? Why not just click your bracelets and win the battle immediately?

Like most of the many Marvel comic movies that have been released in the last few years, the most important thing are the special effects and not necessarily the story. I thought this story was better than most of the other Marvel movies but not as good as the Iron Man series and the best in that franchise was the first one, released in 2008. Overall, I thought Wonder Woman was a very good but not great addition to the Marvel Comic movie franchise and I do recommend it.

Movie Review: Paris Can Wait


I found it hard to figure out what this movie is really all about. Was it a travel log about what it is like to drive through France on your way to Paris, stopping at very old museums and eating at very expensive French restaurants, or was it a story about infidelity and a marriage that is not going that well? After the movie was over, I thought this movie was about both of these things.

This film stars Diane Lane as Anne, who is a woman traveling through Europe with her movie producing husband played by Alec Baldwin and it is obvious from the beginning that her husband is much more interested in the problems he is having with producing a film and constant phone calls than his wife. Due to high altitude and inner ear pain, Anne decides to drive to Paris France rather than fly with her husband and her driver is a friend of her husband, Jacques played by French actor Arnaud Viard who is very clearly attracted to Anne. From this point, this movie is nothing more than conversation and very subtle flirting between the Anne and Jacques as they drive through France and take several diversions along the way. This film probably has the least story of any movie I have seen in a long time. The acting is good throughout, but it is hard to fully recommend a movie that has so little going on. I thought it was nice to see parts of France that very few of us will probably ever see, so this is a good movie for anyone who has had the desire to visit France. The end of this movie was very strange, with a shot of Diane Lane looking directly into the camera enjoying some chocolate covered roses. I have not seen an actor looking directly into a camera like that since the release of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 31 years ago. Why the director decided to put that at the end of this movie, I thought was completely out of place.

As far as recommending this film, I do recommend it as a travel log about the countryside of France, but I do not recommend it as a movie because the story was not strong enough to keep your attention for the entire 2 hours.