Movie Review: The Old Guard

Since the release of the impressive “Atomic Blonde” in 2017, Charlize Theron has now become a highly skilled Martial Arts actor, that now also includes the new Netflix movie “The Old Guard”.

The Old Guard is one of those science fiction action movies that requires the audience to suspend all common sense, because this story is about a group of immortal soldiers who have been alive for about 1000 years. They cannot be killed, even when they are shot in the head or riddled with bullets. The one trick in this plot is that, after being killed unknown number of times these soldiers are no longer able to come back to life. Due to all of this complex life and death complexity, this film runs a fine line from being entertaining mostly because of the Martial Arts action to being totally absurd because the immortality angle mostly does not work.

Originally there are 4 soldiers led by Theron who have been traveling the world for centuries fighting in wars and saving lives, but through their common dreams they find out about a new immortal soldier Nile, currently in the US army, played by KiKi Layne. What follows for the rest of this story are events we have seen before including a scientist who wants to capture all the soldiers so they can be studied and fighting various enemies with gunfire and Martial Arts. The last quarter of this story is mostly about the group’s ongoing attempts to evade capture by this evil scientist. At the very end of this story, there was a very strong suggestion that this is the first of a series of movies with these characters, that will probably be determined based on the Netflix ratings for this first installment.

Despite the strong 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I give this movie a 70% rating and a very marginal recommendation, mostly for fans of solid Martial Arts action.

Movie Review: Greyhound

The new movie “Greyhound:, starring Tom Hanks was originally scheduled to be released to movie theaters, but due to the Pandemic, it is only available on Apple+ streaming service. Greyhound is a Naval war movie starring Tom Hanks, and his performance reminded me of his incredible performance in “Saving Private Ryan”, released in 1998 – arguably the greatest war movie ever made – and arguably the greatest performance in Tom Hanks impressive career.

The events of this film are fiction, based on the book “The Good Shepherd” by C.S. Forester. The screenplay for this movie was written by both Tom Hanks and C.S Forester. During World War 2, in the battle of the Atlantic, “3500 ships were lost carrying millions of tons of cargo were sunk and 72,200 souls were lost”.

From the start, the commander of a battle ship, Captain Earnest Krause, played by Hanks is in charge of the protection a crowd of freighter ships in the North Atlantic in 1942 from German U-boats. What impressed me the most about the constant danger throughout the start-to-end battle within this story, was the complex maneuvering and the barking of orders from Captain Krause, where one small misstep could cost the lives of everybody on board of the battleship he commands. Krause’s ship is surrounded by submarines, and other German battleships involving excellent special effects within very choppy ocean water. There are at least 3 almost collisions with Krause’s battleship and other ships as Krause tries to avoid the constant attacks by the enemy.

Most unusual about this entire movie is that there is really no story, instead just a series of non stop events in the life of a battleship and its crew during a high point of the Naval battles in the North Atlantic in 1942.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings are only about 76% and my rating is more in the 90% range, mostly because of the special effects and Tom Hanks performance. I highly recommend Greyhound as one of the best Naval War movies ever made. See the Greyhound WW2 movie trailer below.

Movie Review: Hamilton

Since the release of Hamilton on the new Disney+ streaming service on July 3, 2020 one would have to guess that there has been a huge increase in subscribers, at least for one month.

Even for those who hate musicals, and I am one of those people, you cannot help but admire the enormous amount of work the creator of Hamilton, Lin Manuel Miranda, put into composing so much music and rhythmic dialogue for a production that is over 2 12 hours long. Then add all the singing and rapping of so many words that the entire cast had to memorize for so many musical numbers in this long production. Years ago, nobody would have guessed that someone could make an entire musical from the life of Alexander Hamilton who lived from January 11, 1755 – July 12, 1804. At its peak, Hamilton was the most attended and popular musicals in the world.

This movie, that is only available on the Disney+ service is a recording of a Broadway performance in June 2016 at the Richard Rogers theater. It plays exactly like you are sitting in the audience, watching a Broadway play. Ever aspect of the production is excellent and I agree with the very high 99% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. For me the standout performance was the actor who played King George, Jonathan Groff. He was both an excellent singer and very funny during all of his standout musical appearances. The entire rest of the cast, especially Miranda were all outstanding.

Hamilton is a must see, for the high level of acting, music and production.

Movie Review: Irresistible

The new on demand movie “Irresistible” is both written and directed by John Stewart, and my first question is, why is this movie even called Irresistible? This title makes no sense, considering what this movie is about. The story of Irresistible is about the political process in this country, that is all about raising money and back stabbing and bad mouthing the other side. Its about the system being broken and is all about money and not about changing things for the better. The problem here is that the point of this film is lost in Stewart’s attempts to be different and because of this, most of this entire film does not make any sense.

First of all, why would a high level political operative, Gary Zimmer (played by Steve Carell), who works in Washington D.C. ever care about a small town Mayoral race in Wisconsin? This would never happen, so why not make Zimmer more local to Wisconsin?

The movie starts with Zimmer seeing a speech during town hall of a former army Colonel Jack Hastings, played by Chris Cooper and because of this one speech, Zimmer believes he would be a great candidate for mayor of a small conservative town in Wisconsin. What follows are mostly unfunny and disjointed scenes of a political campaign and even a trip to New York City to get funding for this mayoral race, in what turns out to be millions of dollars. Why would rich people in New York City give a great deal of money to fund a mayoral campaign for a small town in Wisconsin? There are several other scenes in this movie that looked like Stewart was trying too hard to be different, including one scene where an injured army veteran was dressed up and talked like a robot, because of his many strokes. I thought this was not only unfunny, but in very bad taste. The campaign manager Faith Brewster for the current mayor, played by Rose Byrne has an ongoing love hate relationship with Zimmer, and most of their scenes also fail pretty badly and are never funny.

The ending included the conclusion of an ongoing scam with the town, that did not work and was completely implausible. The ending is another attempt by Stewart to try something different that also failed. I had the feeling throughout watching this film that any new screenwriter would never get this screenplay made into a movie because it was just not strong enough. Only because of John Stewart’s clout was this movie pushed forward and financed.

My other question is that why are these on demand first run movies so expensive to buy at $19.99? You would think that because the movie has no distribution costs that it would be cheaper to make. Perhaps the producers believe that the only way to recoup enough money is to charge a ridiculously high price for a movie you can see in your home. Given that Irresistible is not a good movie, paying 19.99 is even more annoying for all who will see this film.

I agree with the very low 42% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and recommend this movie should be avoided to save the $19.99. John Stewart is very funny as a talk show host and a talented comedian and it must be hard for him to get all of these bad reviews. Sometimes it is better to not make a bad movie rather than produce something just to try and stay relevant in Hollywood.

Movie Review: My Spy

The new movie “My Spy”, streamed on Amazon Prime is one of those forgettable films, because its so much like so many other stories about Spies and undercover Police that we have all seen before. For this film, nothing stands out as different or groundbreaking.

My Spy stars wrestler/actor Dave Bautista, who has been in more than a few movies the last few years – most of them about the same. Time will tell if he can create a movie career, anything close to the huge success of Dwayne Johnson, who has made many movies the last 15 years.

The story of My Spy is very similar to “Stakeout” that was released in 1987, starring Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez. It is so similar that the only real difference is the 9 year old girl involved Sofie, played by newcomer Chloe Coleman. She steals this whole movie, mostly during the scenes where JJ, played by Batista, who is a CIA agent, become friends – even to the point of Sophie bringing JJ to school with her, for show and tell of all things. Considering that JJ is a very experienced CIA agent, most of these bonding scenes with a 9 year old girl, do not make much sense. Sophie’s mother Kate is played by Parisa Fitz-Henley and eventually becomes the love interest for JJ, which is also the same plot line of Stakeout.

The bonding scenes between JJ and Sophie take place during the middle of this film, and are mostly not compelling enough to keep a person interested in watching. There are several moments where this film refers to other action movies of the past, including even “Raiders of the Lost Arc” at the end where JJ and a terrorist are fighting in front of a plane. Also at the end of the movie there is an attempt at humor, trying to make fun of action movies where the hero is walking forward, and something explodes behind them. I thought this was an interesting idea, but not enough to save this movie.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for My Spy are a low 51%, and I agree with this rating and do not recommend this film.

Movie Review: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Most Will Ferrell movies seem to follow the same pattern of, somewhat funny is some places, not in others, not funny enough, and in the end the result is the same; another movie not good enough to showcase Ferrell’s comedic talents.

The new Netflix comedy, “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga” is unusual because of the many musical acts that occur during the many singing contests that all start in Iceland. This film also has some scenes of horrific death and gore after several people are blown up on a boat, something unexpected in any movie attempting to be funny. An Icelandic accent is also not funny enough to stand on its own and unfortunately a good percentage of the jokes fall flat.

This movie also stars Rachel McAdams, in her second comedy role since “Game Night” in 2018, as Ferrell’s “sister or not sister” Sigrit; another running gag in this story that does not work. Ferrell plays Lars who has spent his whole life trying and failing to get respect from his father Erick, played by Pierce Brosnan. Singer Demi Lovato has several cameo’s in this movie and unfortunately towards the end of this film, she returns in scenes reminiscent of “American Werewolf in London” – and this is an additional attempt at black comedy, that also does not work in this story.

I agree with the relatively low 58% opinion polls on Rotten Tomatoes and do not recommend this movie.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga

Past Movie Review: Glengarry Glen Ross

“Glengarry Glen Ross” is perhaps the best example of ensemble acting in movie history. Alec Baldwin, Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce and Alan Arkin star in this production that represents some of the best acting of their entire careers. The story is very simple. Desperate salesman who would do almost anything to rip people off by selling them bad or non existent real estate properties. All that matters is the sale, not the lives ruined, money stolen from decent hard working people. People like this are always able to rationalize and justify stealing money from people, with lies, misdirection and trickery. “Well, they fell for it”, and they all sleep well at night. What this amazing film does better than anything is remind us that people like this really exist. The acting in this film is some of the finest ever filmed, including a speech by Alec Baldwin at the start of the film (see below), that is arguably the greatest single performance in his entire career.

This movie is one pathetic scene after another, of desperate salesman cold calling sales lead after lead. They lie to their customers, promising them something that is either not true or does not even exist. They desperately try to close real estate deals in order to win a Cadillac Eldorado with no regard with the crimes they are committing. The central story stars Al Pacino who lies his way into the trust of one of his main leads, played by Jonathan Pryce – who later has a bad case of buyers remorse after talking to his wife. The end of this movie with Al Pacino desperately trying to lie his way out of losing a deal and Jack Lemmon, trying to hang onto his life is some of the best acting in this entire movie.

David Mamet wrote the screenplay for this great film based on his play. The dialogue is loaded with epithets and complex rapid fire back and forth which is how people like this talk in real life. The best part of this movie is the dialogue, that is some of the best I have ever seen.

Glengarry Glen Ross was released in 1992 and is one of the best films of its kind ever produced. I agree with the 95% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and I give this movie my highest recommendation.

My Top 10 Movie Quotes

  1. “We all got it coming Kid”. The Unforgiven, 1992.
  2. “You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.” The Social Network, 2010.
  3. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”, Jaws, 1975.
  4. “May the Force be With you”, Star Wars, 1977.
  5. “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”, The Godfather, 1973.
  6. “You talkin’ to me?”, Taxi Driver, 1976.
  7. “There’s no place like home.”, The Wizard of Oz, 1939.
  8. “I’ll have what she’s having.”, When Harry Met Sally, 1989.
  9. “I’I see dead people”, The Sixth Sense, 1999.
  10. “You can’t handle the truth!”, A Few Good Men, 1992

Movie Review: DA 5 Bloods

“Da 5 Bloods” is director Spike Lee’s latest movie and has been released on Netflix. The story of Da 5 Bloods is very simple. 4 black Vietnam veterans decide to return back to Vietnam to find the remains of their friend who was killed – so he can be buried in the United States. They also want to find millions of gold bars that they found and buried, while in duty in 1969. From the beginning, I thought that this story was flawed because looking for any metal object in the jungles of Vietnam – considering the tens of thousands of land mines, is something that would never be worth the risk from the beginning. A metal detector, like the one the men were using to find the gold, would have no way of detecting if the metal was gold or a land mine that would blow you up.

Overall, I was surprised by the relatively mundane and uninteresting story here very unlike Spike Lee’s movies about racial injustice. Throughout this movie there are scenes of the 1960’s and 70’s that also include Martin Luther King. The one standout in this movie is actor Delroy Lindo, who gives an outstanding performance, probably the best acting opportunity in his entire career. I agree with the IMD ratings of 6.9 but not with the Rotten Tomatoes of 92%. This is just an average film and I give it a very mild recommendation.

Movie Review: The King of Staten Island

The new movie “The King of Staten Island” is the first mainstream and highly advertised movie released since the Pandemic, that can only be seen on demand. As an avid moviegoer this is the first time I have paid 20 dollars for any newly released movie; much less seen it for the first time at home and not in a movie theater. As we have heard so many times since early March this year, these are very unusual and strange times.

The King of Staten Island stars Pete Davidson as Scott Carlin, who lost his father at age 7. Pete Davidson’s father was a fireman who died during the September 11 tragedy in 2001. This movie, directed by Judd Apatow is loosely based on Pete Davidson’s real life, with the difference in this story being that Davidson’s character wants to be a tattoo artist and his father was a fireman, but died in a fire and not on 911. Overall the acting of everybody in this film, especially Pete Davidson was outstanding. In the case of Davidson, it was very hard to realize that he was actually acting in this movie, because his time onscreen seemed so real – the best sign of a good actor. Marisa Tomei was very believable as Davidson’s mother Margie, who never married after her husband died and also has a daughter, played by Apatow’s daughter Maude Apatow. All of us wonder what it must be like to get a huge inside boost into the lucrative profession of acting, mainly because you are related to someone who is very powerful in the industry.

Even though this film is mostly a comedy there are many dark moments, mainly related to Scott’s difficulties in getting past the tragic death of his father, that is also true of Pete Davidson’s real life. There is a scene at the start of this movie, where Scott is closing his eyes while driving on the freeway, playing some kind of Russian roulette with his car. There are suggestions that Scott’s many tattoos might have to do with trying to distract himself from his emotional pain with physical pain. Davidson’s many friends, his mother and even his grandfather are in this film, making this production a large family affair – rare at this level for any mainstream movie.

The King of Staten Island is very typical of all Apatow movies with solid comedy mixed in with drama. I disagree with the 69% rating for this film, with my opinion closer to the 80% range. I recommend The King of Staten Island, even despite the high 20 dollar price tag.