Movie Review: Acrimony


Acrimony is a great word, defined:

From Dictionary.com:

noun
1.
sharpness, harshness, or bitterness of nature, speech, disposition, etc.:
The speaker attacked him with great acrimony.

I recently saw Tyler Perry on a talk show where he mentioned that he also thought that Acrimony was a great word and he had to look it up to make sure he had the correct definition. To me the word has always represented a very high level of anger, caused mainly by a major injustice in a person’s life or the need for revenge.

In order to do justice to a word like this, Tyler Perry had a very tall order ahead of him and had to write a screenplay that was believable in terms of the buildup to an ending where everyone in the audience would believe that the woman scorned can be understood based on all she had gone through to get to this final moment. The scorned woman in this movie, played extremely well by Taraji P Henson, went through hell.

On all counts, I thought that Tyler Perry’s screenplay scored and provided the buildup and emotion that made me believe everything that happened in this movie. I cannot remember a movie I have seen in a long time that provided this many emotions in two hours. Jealousy, rage, indifference, misery, fear, failure, success, regret, love and hatred. What I don’t understand the most about this movie is that the critics on Rotten Tomatoes are only giving this film a very low rating of 25%. This could be that they don’t like or are jealous of Perry’s success as a movie maker or for perhaps because they think they have seen elements of a movie like this before. There are elements of other movies in this one and even in some of Perry’s other movies but I thought this film was outstanding because of the unusual and believable story and the many twists and turns throughout the entire two hours. This is why it is so extremely difficult to write a screenplay that is loved by both the audience and critics; a concept reinforced when I read critical comments about a good movie like Acrimony that in my opinion are all dead wrong.

A couple meets in college, there are good times and some bad times and then the realities of having to make a living and having a big dream cause conflict and understandable financial problems. Life happens. As this story unwinds through the many years of a couple’s relationship the harsh life realities of work, luck, misunderstandings and timing come into play and are written about brilliantly in Tyler Perry’s impressive screenplay. Some critics are comparing this movie to Fatal Attraction that was released in 1987 but in terms of a real story I thought that this movie greatly exceeds the story from that movie.

I thought this movie was extremely well written and acted and I highly recommend it. The critics are wrong. This movie should be seen.

Movie Review: Ready Player One


When we all hear that Steven Spielberg had directed a new movie, even if that movie is mostly an animated one, we all expect a top notch high quality experience 100% of the time. Spielberg’s latest movie is “Ready Player One” and I believe the first movie that he has directed that is mostly an animated feature film. The concept we have seen before – a human world and a computer world that people transfer to and from. The difference between the science fiction concept here and the 3 Matrix movies from 15 years ago is that in this film people choose to play a game where they know they are in a 3D world that they want to experience, but the world in the Matrix was created by computers that have taken over the world and the people in the Matrix had no idea that they were trapped in a world created by computers and are being used as batteries. In my opinion the science fiction concept of the Matrix that debuted in 1999 is the greatest ever produced in movie history.

As expected the special effects for this movie and mostly computer graphics were very impressive. The story at time was extremely convoluted and towards the end hard to follow and involved the inventor of this computer game and 3D world embedding 3 keys or Easter eggs in the game and whoever finds all 3 keys would win a great deal of money. The clues and eventual conclusion I thought was overly complex and not believable and in the end I thought the entire movie was way too long.

As I have said so many times in this blog, special effects will never be great enough to offset a bad or average story. The most important thing for any movie will always be the screenplay and I thought the screenplay in this film was less than Spielberg’s normal standards. Overall, I thought that Read Player One was just an average movie and I give it only a marginal recommendation.

Movie Review: The Death of Stalin


This movie represents an experience that rarely happens to me. A movie that is very highly reviewed – 96% on Rotten Tomatoes that I did not like at all. This is supposed to be a farce that is funny and it was not at all funny. At times like this – also with the movie “Call me by your Name” it almost seems as if critics are paid off to like a movie that is obviously bad. I thought this movie was very boring and I actually had to walk out early. I just do not understand why this movie is highly rated. For these reasons I of course, do not recommend this boring and rather bad movie.

Movie Review: I Can Only Imagine


Most of us go to the movies to recognize ourselves in other people, to temporarily escape our own reality and perhaps to learn something about the world we never knew. The new movie “I Can Only Imagine” achieves all of these things in a short two hours.

I Can Only Imagine is about the real life story of Christian singer Bart Milard who was the child of an abusive father. Bart’s father is played by Dennis Quaid – who was on a quest to ruin the life of his young son – because he is so miserable with his own life, his bad luck and the money he will never have. If I am miserable then my wife will be miserable and so will my kids — is a common experience of too many children in the world, including me. Bad luck in life brings other people along for the ride and that is the tragedy that is the guiding force in the life of Bart Millard. There are many similarities in this movie to the film “Fences” that was released in December 2017, but the difference in this film is that this is a try story.

How such a bad childhood leads Bart into the world of Christian singing and then writing the #1 selling Christian song of all time “I Can Only Imagine” (see video below) is a very well told story and an example of excellent screenwriting that held my attention the entire two hours. The latter part of this story shows how difficult it is to rent a bus and go on the road with your friends trying to make money performing music in the deep south in the 1990’s. Bart’s show business life choice is a crap shoot that few of us are ever lucky enough to succeed at.

If your 30 years old and already know that you are going nowhere in you’re career and will never have any money are so unhappy, drunk and miserable that you take out your bad life on your child, then you should never be allowed to have a child in the first place. Having a child is first and foremost about financial security and removing that from the equation of parenthood means that you do not get to be parent especially if along the way you make child’s life as miserable as yours. When you are a child, as I have said so often in this blog, you have no choice, no options, no hope, you are going along for the ride.

This movie stars newcomer J. Michael Finley who does an outstanding job in his role as Bart Millard. 91 year old actress Cloris Leachman also has a small a role in this film – still acting at her age and still an excellent actress.

I thought this movie was very well done and it receives my highest recommendation.

Movie Review: Pacific Rim Uprising


Everybody who will see this movie will expect to see what they saw in the original Pacific Rim; giant robots fighting giant monsters that came out of the Pacific Ocean. What they will not expect is too many giant Robots fighting other giant Robots and not nearly enough monsters until the end. Perhaps there was not enough budget for the monsters this time around? Like the last movie the producer’s strategy was still the same – people come to see the fighting giant creatures, who the hell needs a screenplay. I believe that movies like this follow the Michael Bay paradigm of special effects movies, “create the effects first and then just slap the story around the effects”. Of course this is a stupid idea, but it must work in terms of money making, but it definitely does not work as far as making any kind of a good movie. The slapped together story for this second Pacific Rim installment makes absolutely no sense, and is all over the place.

Like the last Pacific Rim, I thought the overall quality of the film itself seemed less than a top notch special effects movie and I remember wondering while sitting through the long 2 hours, what is it about Japanese people that they are so fascinated with giant creatures that try to kill people running for their lives? For me this gets old pretty quickly. This Pacific Rim stars John Boyega the lead actor in the recent Star Wars movies who is clearly going for the money as an actor rather than quality roles. This is a risk for any actor who is interested in longevity in the movie industry. Sometimes this works out and sometimes it doesn’t but the list of those who went for the money and not the quality and are now no longer viable is long.

This is a movie for 9-10 year old kids who go for the robot fighting scenes, but even for them, there are not enough fighting scenes to keep even a 10 year old from falling asleep. This film, like the last one, should be missed.

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.