Movie Review: Love, Simon

For the new movie “Love, Simon”, I didn’t notice anyone acting or anything contrived or forced during the entire two hours. These two simple things for me made this movie memorable and justifies the high scores on Rotten Tomatoes which are 91%.

The story of Love, Simon is a simple one. A 17 year old young man has known that he is gay for 4 years and he is afraid to tell anyone about it – understandable considering the pressures of being in high school and social media in today’s world. The series of events that happen through social media after finding another young man his age by chance going through the exact same thing, are rather involved and elaborate but I thought, very well done and believable. The main character Simon, played by Nick Robinson is not overtly gay and plays the role with a very mid-America normal personality. Simon has 4 friends 3 of whom he drives to school every morning within a ritual that involves buying 4 ice coffees and having a group lunch in the cafeteria every day. Nothing unusual here, but what is unusual is the dialogue, every well written and the series of situations that lead Simon to his decision to announce to the world he is gay.

Jennifer Garner plays Simon’s mother in a role as a mother that it seems she has played many times before. The message of this movie is just how desperate human beings are to be accepted and that most of us care too much about what other people think. The fear of not being accepted sometimes makes cowards of us all.

I thought Love, Simon was a very well done story and I do recommend it.


Movie Review: Tomb Raider

The original Tomb Raider series started in 2001 with Angelina Jolie as the star of that movie franchise. I wondered while watching this remake if it was made more because of the looks and star power of Alicia Vikander or because of the popularity of the original Tomb Raider movies from 17 years ago. When you think about movies like this and an upcoming star who is trying to make the big money in a movie role, you have to admire the months of training and hard to work to get into the shape necessary for all of the stunts and fight scenes that were all very impressive in this film. The problem now is, how do you make this new Tomb Raider movie unique enough so that is memorable or at least more memorable than the first Tomb Raider franchise?

I thought the story was just OK, nothing really special. A trip to Hong Kong, Lara looking for her father, a boat trip an island with caves, and very old machines that open up walls and ancient burial grounds and mummies. What makes this movie watchable are some of the impressive fight scenes, action sequences, special effects and the perfect Hollywood face of Alicia Vikander, but not the story. For these reasons, I do recommend Tomb Raider.

Movie Review: Gringo

I frequently talk about how difficult it is to write a great new screenplay on this blog. First of all the story has to be a brand new idea, maybe even something that never has been done before. Then in order to be memorable, a story twist or a scene of great acting has to be involved somewhere so the movie stays in your mind. Unfortunately “Gringo” is not unique enough to really remember, other than one line where the main character played by David Oyelowo says “we are living in an upside down world, it doesn’t pay to be a good person anymore”. While sitting through this movie I kept thinking too many times that I have seen this before, so for that reason I did not find this movie compelling enough to recommend.

Gringo stars Charlize Theron, David Oyelowo and Thandie Newton and for the most part the acting is good throughout this film. At times I found the plot, that involves kidnapping and some twists and turns unnecessarily confusing and at times rather boring. While this is not a bad movie, its not that good either. Overall I will pass on Gringo.

Movie Review: Hurricane Heist

While watching this very bad movie I remember thinking that perhaps this entire screenplay was written in reverse. In other words some producer thought that because of all the very damaging hurricanes we have had in this country in the last few months that perhaps this idea would be some kind of a draw at the box office. Then add a band of criminals who use a huge hurricane to distract others from their crime and throw in the old recycled currency idea that was used in the also bad movie “Den of Thieves” and we have a hit. The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for this move are a very low 25% but my rating is even lower about 5% because the idea and the story for this film is so bad. On top of this the special effects of the hurricane especially at the end of the movie don’t look like a hurricane at all, most like a giant nuclear dust cloud. This entire movie is stupid and should be avoided by everyone. Run from this horrible mess.

Movie Review: Death Wish

I have often wondered about Hollywood board rooms and conference rooms and discussions executives have about money and what works and what does not work with new movies, movie franchises and decisions to remake a movie. Why are some movies considered possibilities for remakes and others not? Why Death Wish? Perhaps one reason could be the setting of this movie in Chicago that in the last few years has been one of the most violent cities in US history.

Death Wish has also been remade in other forms over the years, with Kevin Bacon in “Death Sentence”, 2007 and Jodie Foster In “The Brave One” that also came out in 2007. The premise for these movies are all the same. A horrible crime has been committed, the police and the courts can do nothing to find the criminals and the person suffering incredible grief goes on a shooting rampage to achieve justice and revenge. I found it very disturbing that in the trailer for this film, it is said that 1 in 4 people will become a victim of a violent crime. Of course the averages go way up around cities like Chicago.

Bruce Willis used to be a huge star in Hollywood for many years but unfortunately his last Die Hard movie “A Good Day to Die Hard” just about ruined his career and destroyed a very strong movie franchise. Since then he has made a string of movies that have gone right to DVD and have never been released to movie theaters, proving once again just how fleeting movie success can be and with only one big bomb the whole miracle of you’re acting career can be over very quickly.

As far as this new Death Wish movie remake, directed by Eli Roth, I thought it was well done and believable, and about as good as the original Death Wish that was released in 1974 starring Charles Bronson. The actor Dean Norris is perfectly cast as the police officer in charge of the case, and since his performance in Breaking Bad, Norris could just about be one of the believable actors to play a police officer. Unfortunately for Bruce Willis the Rotten Tomatoes reviews are very low, only 14%, so the odds are that this film will be in and out of the theaters relatively quickly.

Overall, I thought this movie was just OK and I do recommend it.

Movie Review: Red Sparrow

In 1993 a very good movie called “Point of No Return” was released starring Bridget Fonda, who has dropped out of the movie business in 2002, an unfortunate fact because she was a very good actress. The new movie “Red Sparrow” follows the exact same idea of Point of No Return. “A down and out woman is recruited to be an operative or a spy for their country and she is trained by her country using cruel tactics to turn her into a killer”. Unfortunately Red Sparrow is a very bad movie starring Jennifer Lawrence that has a mixed up disaster of a story that is impossible to follow. Rather than having a down and out woman recruited to be an operative, Lawrence plays a Russian Ballerina who breaks her leg, which in itself makes no sense because wouldn’t she have too much fame in Russia to be a Russian spy? It seemed to me as I suffered through this 2 plus hours of an insane plot that they hired 14 screenwriters to write this mess, threw the script on the floor and then slapped the pages back together, hoping that maybe when they cut the film it might somehow miraculously become a movie. No such luck.

I believe that the producers knew for sure that this movie would be a bomb while they were making it so they came up with an idea and with probably another few million dollars convinced Lawrence to do a nude scene, which is something she swore she would never do. There are also several sexual situations even during the training the operatives go through, which was another failed attempt by the producers help the box office. Then with every appearance on every talk show, they made sure that she mentioned the nude scene, in the hopes of saving this movie. Considering the low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and how bad this movie is, I cannot believe that one nude scene will be enough to save this disastrous mess of screenwriting.

Do yourself a favor and skip this mess and see Point of No Return instead. That was a very good movie.

Movie Review: Game Night

The reason why I admired this movie was because it was successful at creating something new, namely a farce that for the most part was funny enough and worked for most of the film, which in my experience is very rare. The story of this film I have never seen before. Four couples meet for normal game night and the following night one of their friends come up with a new game that involves someone being kidnapped and the couples have to find their location. Unfortunately, something very dangerous and real happens and for a while they all think they are playing a game never realizing they are in grave danger. All this comes off very well, with some amusing but not laugh out loud dialogue and physical comedy.

Game Night stars Rachel McAdams and Jason Bateman, and they are both funny and effective in their roles. This movie is both unusual and entertaining and I do recommend it.

Movie Review: Annihilation

Common sense is a fundamental “must have” within any screenplay. Common sense is the glue that holds a scene and ultimately an entire 100 page movie script together. Things have to make sense and people have to do what they would normally do within a situation, otherwise the entire story falls apart very quickly. Given all of this, where is the common sense in the movie “Annihilation”? There is an area within a swamp, somewhere in the United States where something they all call a “shimmer” has appeared. Over months and perhaps years scientists and soldiers have gone into the shimmer to find out what is happening inside and almost none of them have returned. If this is the case, then why did the government decide to send in 5 women to figure out the shimmer, rather than tanks and an army of 500 soldiers? For me, this is when the movie ended, because in real life a decision like this would never have been made. In another scene, after one of the women in Natalie Portman’s party is killed by some kind of alien bear, she goes off by herself to find out if she has really been killed and might somehow still be alive. No way something this stupid happens in real life. Another woman was just killed by a giant alien bear and now Portman’s character goes off by herself, not taking her 3 armed friends with her to see what happened? This is of course ridiculous.

The acting in this movie starring Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh was good enough and the special effects were OK, despite the dark rainy environment. For me the scene at the end involving Portman’s husband did not add up, considering the story up to that point. Due to all of these problems, I cannot recommend this movie .

Movie Review: Black Panther

Two years ago at the Academy Awards there was a boycott, because nobody black was nominated for anything. Last year the movie Moonlight won best picture, even though it was nowhere near the best picture. This year the movie Get Out is nominated for on for the 9 best pictures of the year, leaving out a great film, Molly’s Game. Get Out is at best a below average B movie and has no business being nominated for best picture in any year. This year the movie Black Panther is the first Marvel movie with only black actors playing the main parts. The pendulum has swung and in the case of Black Panther which is a good Marvel comics movie, this is a good thing that has happened to the movie industry. Over time, movies should be judged and made for only one reason, a screenwriter slaved over a script for over a year, re-wrote it many times until it was perfect and a great story was eventually told on a movie screen.

For all the critics who think Black Panther is a masterpiece or a great movie, I disagree with that assessment. Black Panther is one of the better Marvel comic movies that has been made in recent years, but it is not a great movie. The story follows the same Marvel pattern with a big action payoff at the end, and the story meanders somewhat around the middle but in the end holds your attention enough so you are interested in what happens when the story concludes.

The acting in this film is very good, including Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker, Lupita Nyongo and Martin Freeman as the only white actor in this movie. I also thought the special effects and the science was very well done. I recommend this movie for all fans of Marvel or action movies, but do not expect Black Panther to be great, just very good.

Movie Reviews: The 15:17 To Paris

After seeing the pretty bad movie, “The 15:17 To Paris” , you just had to wonder what the hell Clint Eastwood was thinking when he bought the rights to this story. The entire problem with this film is so obvious. There is not nearly enough story to tell. The Terrorist incident on a train on August 21, 2015 in Paris took about 5 minutes from beginning to completion and because of this, Eastwood and the screenwriter had to fill in about 98% of the story with the childhood of the 3 men who were heroes on the train and towards the end, this even included what seemed like home movies about their trip to Europe.

The other bad decision here is casting the actual 3 men who prevented the terrorist attack as the actual actors in the movie. The difference between watching and actor and a person who has never acted at times can be barely noticed but the 2% you do notice over a 2 hour movie really comes through in a big way.

The ratings for this movie on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes are 5.4 and 20% respectively and these numbers are well deserved. Without a doubt this is the worst movie that Clint Eastwood has ever directed and in hindsight because the story was so short, this film never should have been made. Instead, Eastwood should have shot a documentary about this story, which would have been a far better idea.

This is one movie about Terrorism that should be missed.