Movie Review: Inferno

The premise of this movie is about the important subject of overpopulation and the alarming population growth of the world which has almost doubled since 1970 from 4 billion to now almost 8 billion people. It is obvious that organizations like “The World Heath Organization (WHO)” are working on the world overpopulation problem and WHO is an integral part of the many chase scenes in this movie. Involving the World Health Organization in this movie makes sense because the movie is about solving a series of puzzles that are all about trying to stop some insane scientist from creating a worldwide pandemic that will wipe out half the planet and very quickly fix the population explosion problem which according to this scientist will result in the extinction of all humanity. Fundamentally, is a good idea for a movie. What is a stupid idea for a movie is turning a good idea into a bad idea by complicating it with a ridiculous plot which makes almost no sense, and embedding complex and inane “mystery clues” into paintings and statues that are mostly inside museums all around the world.

There are a whole series of reasons why this movie is stupid and badly made. First of all, why would a mad scientist who is plotting to kill half the planet by creating some disease, hide very complex and ridiculous clues within paintings and other works of art, all around the world? The connections between each of these clues that lead Robert Langdon played by Tom Hanks make almost no sense at all, and how each conclusion and connection is reached by Langdon and his partner in this mystery, Sienna Brooks played by Felicity Jones during the fast-talking conversations they have are completely absurd. Why did this mad scientist commit suicide by jumping off a building at the beginning of this bad movie? This is never explained. Why would some insane evil scientist like this have thousands of followers when they know that by trying to kill billions of people they would also probably have to die as well. Why is this pandemic disease only going to kill half of the world’s population? Will some kind of cure be introduced at some point to prevent everyone in the world from dying, because what is the point of trying to save the world from itself if at the end of this process everybody is dead anyway? This obvious and very important point is also never addressed in this film.

I am very surprised that Ron Howard, who is one of the best directors in the world, would decide to make this 3rd and hopefully very last film in this trilogy of books written by Dan Brown. I also hated the previous 2 movies in this series, “Angels and Demons” that came out in 2009 and “The Davinci Code”, that came out in 2006. Name recognition and the popularity of these books are the reasons why these movies were made, but these books clearly do not translate very well into good or even average movies. Every one of these films is mostly the same story. Solving mysteries, traveling around the world and people chasing people in different parts of the world while they try to solve these mysteries. There is nothing wrong with complex riddles that have to be solved within a story; but have these riddles make some sort of common sense and not be so completely off the wall. Make the connections between the complex dots of the plot make sense and have some kind of an understandable flow to them. Have conclusions drawn that make some sort of common sense that can be understood by the audience. Don’t leave the audience hanging and wondering about something before you jump to another scene that seems to have no connection to a previous scene or plot line. Even the big surprise twist at the end of this movie was also ridiculous and really made no sense given all that had happened previously.

I surprised myself at how much I disliked this very bad movie, which should be missed by everyone, especially fans of the 3 Dan Brown books. If you like the books, then stick with them, as they have to be better than all 3 of these very bad movies.

Past Movie Review: Rocky

There is one real life story that is actually greater and more unlikely than the fictional story of the movie Rocky, which came out 40 years ago this year. That story is how the movie Rocky was even written in the first place by Sylvester Stallone. At the time Stallone was living in Hells Kitchen as a failed actor for many years. He had no money, and at one point even slept in a subway station for 3 weeks. He had to sell his own dog because he could not afford to buy food to feed it. Then one night he saw a journeyman fighter by the name of Chuck Wepner fight Muhammad Ali and Stallone’s life was changed forever. Wepner was what is known as a bleeder, or a fighter who bleeds very easily after being hit in the face. He was at best an average fighter but on the night Wepner fought Ali, he knocked him down after a punch to the midsection. That one punch gave Stallone the idea for the screenplay for Rocky and Stallone was so inspired that he wrote the entire script within 20 straight hours over a weekend. What followed were attempts by Stallone to not only get this great screenplay sold but to star in the movie himself, even though no producer wanted him because he was an unknown. At the time Stallone had 107 dollars to his name, but despite this, he refused to sell the script unless he was made the star of the movie even after bids for the script went as high as 360 thousand dollars. Eventually, Stallone got what he wanted despite odds even longer than the story of Rocky, but he had to agree to only 35 thousand dollars in order to star in the movie himself. Rocky won the best picture Oscar in 1976 and like I have seen so many times, Stallone never reached those heights of great screenwriting again in his career, proving once again how extremely difficult it is to write a great screenplay. Rocky 2 and Rocky 3 were very good movies, but Rocky will stand out as one of the best movies and screenplays ever written. Stallone also deservedly was nominated for an Oscar for best original screenplay for Rocky in 1977. Clearly, he should have won and would have won, were it not for the movie Network also being nominated that year for the same award.

The movie Rocky is about “going to the distance”, doing something that nobody thinks you can do, it is about defying the odds and finally making it despite the long or impossible odds. Why Rocky is one of the most significant movies in the history of cinema is because everyone can relate to this kind of story. We all want to grab the brass ring, to achieve great heights of success. Rocky is also about the loser breaking out of a life of losing and becoming a winner, even though everybody around you tells you that you are a loser.

I remember being very impressed when Rocky 2 came out 3 years later in 1979 because the movie was very good and the perfect compliment to the first movie. Very often sequels are so bad they sometimes even ruin your memory of the first movie. Rocky 2 was not as good as Rocky but it was outstanding enough to be worthy of another Academy Award nomination. The scene where Adrian, played by Talia Shire comes out of her coma after problems in childbirth, where she almost dies and tells Rocky to “win, WIN!”, is one of the most singular and emotional moments in movie history. At that moment, I remember wanting to personally knock down a wall for her. The cast for Rocky was equally outstanding with every one of the characters. Talia Shire as Adrian, Burt Young as her brother Paulie, Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed and Burgess Meredith in without a doubt his greatest performance as an actor as Micky, Rocky’s trainer. Meredith was nominated as best supporting actor Academy Award for his role as Micky.

Everyone will also agree that the music for Rocky, written by composer Bill Conti is equally as spectacular as the story itself and without this music, the emotional impact of this great movie would have been far less than what it was.

Rocky is one of the greatest movies ever produced and should be seen by everyone.

Movie Review: Keeping Up with the Joneses

Zach Galifianakis is one of the most unusual comedic actors to come out in many years. He was funny in the 3 movie Hangover series because he was so strange and unusual, almost Autistic. He played virtually the same part in the movie Due Date in 2010 with Robert Downy Jr. However, when he is in any movie where he is even remotely playing a normal person he is just not that funny. Unfortunately, “Keep Up with the Joneses” is another one of those movies where Galifianakis is not that funny and the movie he is in is not that funny. This is also true of the recent movie “MasterMinds”, also reviewed on this blog and was at best below average.

Keeping Up with the Joneses is another caper movie and there have been so many caper movies over the years where an ordinary person gets involved with mob-like gangs or criminal situations and because of this, any new caper movie has to put a new kind of a spin on this very overworked story and this one did nothing like that. When I was watching this movie, I was reminded so many times that I have seen the same ideas so many times before, with different actors. The actress Isla Fischer plays Galifianakis wife and she was overall good in her role, but the movie was not that good so it didn’t matter that much. John Hamm and Gal Gadot play spies who get involved with Galifianakis and his wife because he works for a defense contractor and another employee is using his computer to sell computer chips illegally. What follows is a typical chase scene, explosions and gun play and an exploding house. Nothing we have not seen before and an ending that mostly played out like I expected it would.

Keeping Up with the Joneses is not a bad movie, but it’s not a good movie either and way too run of the mill. Unless you are a huge fan of Zach Galifianakis, this movie should be missed.