Movie Review: 7500


The new movie on Amazon Prime “7500” is about the hijacking of a passenger Jet by a group of terrorists. What I liked about this movie is the acting, mainly from the lead actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the realistic action throughout this film. What I did not like is the ongoing trend with terrorist movies – giving new ideas to insane criminals in this world. In this case using glass – made into knives to stab and kill people while trying to take over the controls of the passenger Jet. One has to wonder if this is a solution to getting a weapon on board any plane, because how can the x-ray machines detect glass?

One of the worst offenders of this is the movie “Executive Decision”, released in 1996 where the terrorist took over a plane in an attempt to crash it into Washington DC, releasing a nerve agent that would have killed thousands of people. With all movies like this one, some middle ground has to be reached where extreme action and drama that is acceptable, along with never giving terrorists any new ideas. The world has enough problems with terrorist as it is, without coming up with new ideas inside of a movie.

One of the other thoughts I had while watching this movie was, why would anyone want to work as an Airline Pilot or be a Stewardess? Not only are you employed by a precarious business, most especially now because of the Pandemic but you are almost never home, always living out of a hotel, and at any time there could be a mechanical failure, horrific accident or a Terrorist attack. My guess is that you must have a calling to want to work in this industry, definitely something I would never be interested in as a career.

Overall I agree with the middle of the road, 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and give this film a mild recommendation, mainly because of the acting of Levitt.

Movie Review: Unhinged


You are a typical American, who like so many millions, has a job you hate and a boss who loves to make your life miserable. On top of that you are getting a divorce and unfortunately, live in one of the thousands of locations in this country, where the traffic is horrendous. This is the believable scenario that summarizes the beginning of the movie “Unhinged”, starring Russel Crowe.

Actress Caren Pistorius plays Rachel, the woman who at the start of this movie is in her car with her son, desperately trying to find her way to work despite the horrible traffic. Eventually she runs into the worse case scenario other driver played by Russel Crowe, when she herself is at her lowest. The road rage that follows is some of most effective and believable that I have seen in any movie.

When encountering “The Man” in the other car, Rachel makes the exact wrong mistake by honking her horn too loudly after he would not move after the light turned green. This is a story that should have been a very good one, reminding many people of the movie “Duel”, directed by Steven Spielberg released in 1971 and the road rage that exists on so many roads in this country.

Unfortunately too many parts of this story and mostly bad ending have what is called “Hollywood-ified” illogical action to pump up the conclusion. This ongoing practice almost never works and both the villain and the woman trying to protect her son would never do any of the very stupid things they do at the end of this story. People rush to the police to save their lives and a villain in real life will always kill any person who gets in their way immediately. There are no second chances giving the victim an opportunity to save their lives when you are dealing with a desperate and very angry mass murderer. The case of Unhinged is that it is a good thriller with a very believeable beginning that was greatly diminished by a bad ending.

For those who remember what a great actor Russel Crowe is, now some 20 years after winning an Oscar for “Gladiator” in 2000 and a nominated for “A Beautiful Mind” in 2001 – in what is arguably his greatest role, it is hard to see him in a lower quality movie like this. Movie roles like those great parts 20 years ago have not come to Crowe since, although he has had some very good acting parts over the years, including the excellent “Cinderella Man” in 2005 and most recently his role playing Roger Ailes in “The Loudest Voice” in 2019. One can only wonder why Crowe is so extremely overweight – perhaps not able to lose the weight for the Ailes role, or other reasons including the stress of his divorce and his movie career not going as well as it has in the past. His acting in this movie is very good, but I am surprised that due to his clout as a bankable star, the script was not made better with many more re-writes.

I agree with the low 47% ratings for this film on Rotten Tomatoes and unfortunately, mostly because of the bad ending, I cannot recommend it.

Movie Review: Tenet


I never would have thought a year ago that I would not see any movie in a theater from early March to early September 2020 or that I would have to wear a mask. Things have changed in the movie industry in the past year, and the reality is that things may never be the same as they were again. Now there are rules for all theaters, starting with extreme cleanliness, no working water fountains, bathrooms with every other appliance blocked off. Social distancing stickers were all over the floor and understandably there were only a small number of people in the movie theater. The reality is, due to the world wide tragedy of the Corona Virus, the number of people who regularly go to the movies may never get back to the way it was in 2019.

Unfortunately my return to a movie theater after 6 months included sitting through 2 1/2 hours of one of the worst movies I have ever seen – “Tenet”, written and directed by Christoper Nolan. As Nolan has tried to prove in every movie he has ever made; he is more interested in being very different than entertaining or inspiring an audience. In just about every scene in Tenet, there is no explanation, no transition, no real story and no respect for the viewing audience. After two hours of this, I could not wait for this ridiculous nightmare of a movie to be over. After 2 1/2 hours, it was almost impossible to not walk out of the theater. I find movies like Tenet that make no effort to make the story understandable – infuriating. With Nolan it seems at times he has this attitude of, “its not my responsibility to explain my stories, let the audience fend for themselves.” For those of us who aspire to write a great screenplay and have it made into a great movie, seeing bad movies like Tenet are even more unbearable to sit through.

Tenet mostly stars John David Washington and in a much smaller role, Robert Pattinson. They are both part of some kind of a CIA organization called Tenet with a purpose that is never explained. What is also never really explained are these various tools and bullets that when used or touched act in reverse time – which is some kind of new science that was invented by some Russian organization, for reasons that are also never explained. What is the purpose during this entire movie to have the ability to reverse time? Where was the gain, financial or otherwise in reversing time within this story? None of this is ever explained. This movie makes no sense on any level and is a complete waste of 2 1/2 hours.

Some of the reviews I have read on Rotten Tomatoes include:

“The final action sequence is completely incomprehensible. Does Nolan even care? Like “Inception,” “Tenet” characters spend gobs of screen time explaining to us, and each other, what’s happening. That’s a rookie screenwriting tic that Nolan can’t stop repeating. Then again, what could possibly clear up this 2 hour, 31 minute smoke bomb of a movie.” – Sean Collier

“A massive, sprawling, largely incomprehensible mess, albeit with Nolan’s usual slick action scenes and sense of weight.” – Christopher Lloyd

Despite all of these horrendous reviews, the overall score for Tenet is an ridiculous 74%. My rating is a 3% – only for some of the special effects. Can we finally put an end to movies like this and directors who do not care about the audience, including Michael Bay and all of his Transformer movies? Just because something has never been done before with an idea that has never been seen before, does not make any movie good, or ever worth seeing.

I have no idea why Micheal Caine , Himesh Patel or Kenneth Branagh agreed to act in this perfect example of an extremely bad movie, other than perhaps giving back a favor they owed to Nolan or some production company.

Tenet is one of the worst movies I have ever seen and should never even be copied to DVD – because it is just that bad. Run from this horrible mess.

Movie Review: Force of Nature


Rather than reviewing one of the latest Pay Per View movies that have been released – “Forces of Nature”, I thought a better idea would be to examine how movies this bad, with well known actors are even made in the first place. This alone would be a great idea for a documentary entitled “Why and How Bad Movies are Made”.

In the case of this very bad movie, why any actor – known or unknown – could read this script and then decide to risk their careers by agreeing to take the part is more interesting than listing the boring details of one day in the lives of 2 cops, Cardillo and Jess during a Hurricane in Puerto Rico.

The two cops are played by Emile Hirsch and Stephanie Cayo. Cayo is an unknown actress and Emile Hirsch is well known and not too long ago was making some very good movies. While it is understandable to want to stay current as an actor, but choosing a bad role in a very bad movie, cannot be a good idea, no matter how badly things are going for you in the movie industry. This is also true of Kate Bosworth, who has not made many movies recently after being prolific about 10 years ago. Taking this role will do nothing to revive anyone’s acting career.

As for Mel Gibson, despite doing everything in his power to say and do the wrong thing for the last decade he is still a great movie director and is also very rich, so why did he decide to be in a movie this bad? Mel Gibson’s appearance in this bad movie is the most confusing part of this waste of 2 hours. This is one of those cases where I think there was some Hollywood favor that was owed. Despite being the main draw for this movie, Gibson’s appearance seems very awkward and out of place.

As far as the plot of Forces of Nature, the most interesting part of this entire story was one of the tenants in this run down Motel who has a violent pet Alligator who he feeds hamburger from a local food store. The criminals in the Motel trying steal valuable paintings in the building was completely unwatchable.

Forces of Nature has a 4.4 rating on IMDB and a 9 on Rotten Tomatoes and for a change, both of those numbers are accurate. Nobody should waste their time or money on this remarkably bad movie.

This excerpt from a review of Forces of Nature by Paul Byrnes summarizes one reason how and why bad movies are made:

“Some movies are born bad; some achieve badness through lack of care or budget. Some seem to aspire to it and director Michael Polish has had a long enough career to know the difference.”

 

Movie Review: Chemical Hearts


When a person has been through a traumatic event – the plot of the new Amazon Prime streaming film “Chemical Hearts”, a severe car accident – the worst thing you can say is “get over it”. Traumatic events in any person’s life heal in proportion to the level of trauma, and that person’s ability to rationalize and slowly set it aside over a defined period of time. There is no speeding up this process, and in many cases some people never are able to get past the traumatic event. The famous phrase “Time Heals All Wounds” is just not true in every case.

Chemical Hearts is about a young woman, Grace Towns, who is in high school and was a passenger in a car with her boyfriend. One day the car swerves into some rocks and her boyfriend is killed. Grace receives a severe leg injury that requires a cane for her to walk. This is an example of a life trauma that nobody will get over quickly. Then add the guilt of “why did I live” and “if we had only done this instead” – that are typical thoughts for anyone who has been through something as traumatic as a car accident where someone is killed.

Through the high school newspaper, Grace meets Henry Page, a fellow student and member of the newspaper. Over time, Grace and Henry get involved in a very complex relationship that includes Grace reliving the accident and her guilt over still being alive and becoming involved with someone else. The plot of this teenage drama is different than any other similar movies I have seen in the past and I thought the complex relationship drama was well done and well acted.

I thought the acting in this film was excellent, with Lili Reinhart as Grace and Austin Abrams has Henry. All of the other actors were very good in their roles throughout this film, even though one side story about two lesbian students seemed more like “2 hour filler”, than something that should have been included in the screenplay.  I have been mostly impressed with the quality of originally developed movies with both Amazon and Netflix over the years. 

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for this movie at only 57% is completely wrong and the audience rating of 86% is a bit too high. My rating is around 75% for the solid story and acting and I do recommend this movie. 

Movie Reviews: Deep Blue Sea 2, Deep Blue Sea 3


In July 1999, a very well made Shark thriller was released called “Deep Blue Sea”. The story was a very good one. A woman scientist was desperate to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease because her mother died from it. Her plan was to breed Sharks and change their DNA, so their brains would greatly increase in size – hopefully finding a cure for Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, by increasing the brain power of Sharks they became much more dangerous and proceed to wreck havoc within an underwater lab comprised of huge compartments and tunnels – essentially the same idea behind all of the Jurassic Park movies.

The original movie in 1999 had four well known actors, Samuel L. Jackson and Thomas Jane, LL Cool J and Micheal Rapaport. The 2 sequels were low grade B movies with no known actors. The problem with all 3 of these movies, much more so with the last 2, is that there are too many scenes where supposedly intelligent people do very stupid things. Scenes where people dive unprotected into the water trying to save another diver, or investigate a known disturbance when they have no chance to survive within a large body of water with fast moving, super intelligent and vicious Sharks. The most iconic scene in Deep Blue Sea was Samuel L. Jackson’s speech to get all of his colleagues to calm down and a shark jumps in the air, grabs him from behind and drags him back into the water.

To me it is obvious that in 2017, 18 years after the release of the original Deep Blue Sea, that it was decided to finally make a sequel for one reason. The reason was the huge popularity of “Shark Week”, so two bad movies were thrown together with no real script only for marketing reasons. None of the two sequels were widely released and both went to DVD, recently resurfacing with On Demand. I for one, had no idea that two sequels were made from the original very good Deep Blue Sea that was released in 1999. In all 3 movies there are scenes of massive blood and gore, caused by human beings being eaten alive by large killer Sharks. Due to budget reasons, the special effects in the first version released in 1999 are much better than the sequels that were released in 2017 and 2019.

For fans of Sharks, Shark Week or a movie about highly intelligent vicious sharks, see the original movie, and run from the two sequels that are bad films with no real story. I agree with the very low ratings for the two sequels.

Movie Review: Project Power


For sale is a pill that when taken can give any person super powers for exactly 5 minutes or kill them by setting them on fire, freezing them to death or blowing them up. This is the insane premise for the new Netflix movie “Project Power”, starring Jamie Foxx. The problem is, like so many insane action movies with an off the wall idea, the insane premise is never enough to carry the whole two hours. Also In this case, why would anyone take any pill for 5 minutes of super powers, when they could actually blow up by taking the pill?

The story is muddled, boring and run of the mill with crazy special effects in what amounts to the two main characters, Art, played by Foxx and a police officer named Frank, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, running around through different chase scenes, looking for Art’s daughter who was kidnapped by the head drug pusher of these super power pills. We never find out how or why these super power pills were invented throughout the entire movie. 

There is a side story with Art and a young woman played by Dominique Fishback, who is one of pushers of  these pills that for the most part works, but is not enough to save this bad story. 

I consider this a pretty bad action movie and unfortunately with rare exception, Jamie Foxx has made too many bad action movies in this career, this being the latest one.  

I agree with the low 62% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes for Project Power and do not recommend this film. 

Movie Review: An American Pickle


The concept of a man falling into a vat of pickle juice 100 years ago and only because of the pickle juice he could been preserved and has not aged a day when he was revived is completely absurd. This absurdity is the entire premise for the new movie on HBO Max “An American Pickle”, starring Seth Rogen. There is nothing wrong with having to suspend all common sense in order to buy into the main story of any movie – especially a comedy. The problem with this movie is that even after you suspend all of that common sense, there is nothing that is funny.

Seth Rogen also plays the great grandson Ben Greenbaum, of Herschel Greenbaum and overall I thought the double shooting of both characters played by same person was well done. The story comes down to a billboard that was placed over the gravestone of Herschel’s wife and an attempt to start a new pickle business in order to get 200 thousand dollars to pay to get the billboard taken down. Obviously, this is not a strong enough of an idea to carry a 2 hour movie.

What is most strange with this film are the relatively high 75% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and the very low 46% audience ratings, including IMDB. In this case the critics are very wrong and the audience is right. There is nothing worth seeing here, and I do not recommend this movie.

Hulu Series Review: High Fidelity


The movie “High Fidelity” was released in 2000 and starred John Cusack. To this day High Fidelity is one of my favorite movies, because of the stories involving relationships, humor, music and the performance of Jack Black, in what is still his best role.

Due to the outstanding quality of High Fidelity the movie, remaking this into an 8 part series on Hulu had to be a daunting task. This version is basically about the same thing. The owner of a small music store, Robyn(Rob) Brooks, played by Zoe Kravitz, hires two employees, who barely do their jobs or come to work on time. While struggling to keep the store alive, Rob suffers through a series of bad relationship experiences and tries to figure out why he is always being rejected. Why he feels, he is doomed to always be alone. This Hulu series contains many similar excerpts from the original movie and effectively stretches this 2 hour story into an 8 hour streaming series.

The supporting cast starting with Rob’s employees, Todd Louiso and Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who plays the Jack Black role were very good in their roles, but Randolph did not get close to being as funny as Jack Black was in this role 20 years ago. I remember enjoying the elitist music egomania of all the employees of this small record shop 20 ago and their ongoing hobby of enumerating their top 5 favorite music categories throughout the original movie. This also happens in this Hulu series remake, but less than the original movie.

I thought this High Fidelity remake series from an original movie, one of the few I have ever known about, was very well done and I highly recommend it.

Hulu Series Review: Little Fires Everywhere


The new Hulu series “Little Fires Everywhere”, is one of the best serious dramas about every day life, living through high school and race relations that I have ever seen. This 8 part series stars Reese Witherspoon and Keri Washington as two women in their 40’s at the opposite ends of the social status of Shaker Heights Ohio.

Keri Washington plays Mia Warren, who along with her daughter Pearl are homeless and mostly living in their car.  Mia is a starving artist, who is very cash poor due to a series of life challenges.   During a random drive by,  Elena Richardson, played by Witherspoon, notices Mia and Pearl living in a parked car and at first tries to help them, by offering them cheap housing, and then a job for Mia as her maid.  All of this happens despite Mia’s obvious dislike of Elena who is both helpful and condescending to both Mia and her current lot in life.  Many of the scenes in this movie involve Mia trying to hold back her rage as Elena talks down to and disrespects her, to a level that at times was very hard to watch.  There are people like this in the world who derive pleasure from piling on more misery to people who are just trying to get through life. They seem to feel better about themselves only because they feel superior to someone else so they try to knock them down.  

Elena is a reporter for a local Shaker Heights newspaper and her husband Bill, played by Joshua Jackson is a high priced lawyer. Over time, Mia’s daughter Pearl becomes close friends with Elana’s two sons and both of her emotionally challenged daughters Issy and and Lexi. What is most impressive about this 8 episode series is how over time the lives of all of Elana’s children become more and more connected to both Mia and her daughter Pearl.  

Towards the end of this movie there is a new story involving one of Elena’s close friends and a very complex child custody case that also has a connection to Mia’s past when she was a teenager.  All of this leads to a huge climax that involves a house fire that I thought based on what was happening, was too extreme to support this level of drama. Based on the unresolved ending at the conclusion of the 8th episode, there is a strong possibility of a second season of Little Fires Everywhere.  

This series has been nominated for 3 Primetime Emmy’s including Keri Washington who was outstanding in her role as Mia, as well as the entire cast. The other nominee is Lynn Shelton as best director, who unfortunately passed away this past May at only age 54 of a rare blood disorder. This series was also nominated for best limited series and has my vote for the best series of 2020.  

This is the first time I have used the free first month for Hulu and I thought that the quality of this production was every bit as good as Amazon Prime or Netflix.   Little Fires Everywhere gets my highest recommendation as does Hulu that contains very impressive content.