Movie Review: Solo A Star Wars Story

I may be wrong, but I think in the history of the entertainment industry there has probably never been a bigger deal than Disney buying the rights to the Star Wars franchise (Lucasfilm) for 4 billion dollars. When you pay 4 billion dollars for a popular movie franchise, you want your money back and so far this has been the problem with all the Star Wars films that have come out in recent years – at a rate of one a year. In all the previous Star Wars movies that have been released since the Lucas deal the problem has always been the story and the screenplay because this is the part that takes the longest and is the most difficult to create. The cost of special effects is so high that it seems that the producers and directors create a story to support the finished special effects that were based on nothing more than a story board. This is the backwards, Michael Bay method of making a movie and ultimately the biggest problem in almost all of the new Star Wars movies. Another issue is overexposure with too many Star Wars movies coming out – anything gets old when you see it too many times.

The new movie Solo is the story of Hans Solo – the part played in 4 Star Wars movies by Harrison Ford, plays like a chase-caper, with nothing special or interesting other than some revelations about the life of Hans Solo and his partner Chewbacca. This film is also too long, well over 2 hours – another problem because the story is boring within too many areas. I thought all of the acting was good, including Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover and newcomer Alden Ehrenreich, but unfortunately this entire movie was special effects over good content, all the more disappointing considering the director is Ron Howard.

I recommend this movie only for very hard core Star Wars fanatics. For the rest of us who would rather see a compelling and interesting story, this one should be missed.

Movie Review: Book Club

Someone should do a study to determine what was the worst book that made the most money and then spawned 2 more books and 3 movies. I would be very surprised if the 50 Shades of Grey series is not the all time winner for inept writing and movie making that made the most money in the history of the world. What now is even stranger is that the new movie “Book Club” might spark even more interest on this very bad book and movie franchise – making even more money for both the books and the movies. Even during the movie Book Club the 4 main characters in the film, played by Jane Fonda, Mark Steenburgen, Candice Bergen and Diane Keaton comment not only on how bad the book is, but that they were embarrassed even to hold it.

Considering that the first book in the series “50 Shades of Grey” was released in May 2011 and incredibly sold 125 million copies by June 2015 – its rather strange that a movie like this has come out now after so many years. One can only guess at the outrage and disbelief of so many talented authors in the world, who just could not believe that a book this bad could sell so many copies and make so much money. Go figure.

As far as the new movie Book Club, it is very similar to the format of so many multi-story Gary Marshall movies in the past, where one movie has several stories and all of them have a beginning, middle and end. The problem is, just about all of the stories are mundane and boring and none of the 4 stories contained any new idea. While watching this movie that starred 4 very viable but older female stars my guess is that all of them took their parts only to stay active in the very difficult field of acting, despite the very weak screenplay. We all know how difficult it is to get a movie role after a certain age, but in terms of quality this movie is at the low end of the scale – so I would have rejected this part just to save my reputation.

The movie Book Club should be skipped along with the 3 50 Shades Books and 3 very bad movies.

Movie Review: Dead Pool 2

The reviews for “Dead Pool 2”, the sequel to Dead Pool that was released in February 2016 are mostly in the 80% range on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB. Many of the ideas that worked in the first Dead Pool are present in this new version, although I thought it was not nearly as funny as the first one. Dead Pool 2 once again stars Ryan Reynolds as Dead Pool, the cancer ridden and facially deformed super hero who cannot be killed, even if he is ripped in half. I thought the story in this film was much more erratic and off the wall than the first one and for this reason, I lost interest in what was going on several times.

Despite the very solid reviews, I give this movie only a marginal recommendation only for big fans of the Dead Pool character, and Ryan Reynolds sarcastic and at times funny lines.

Movie Review: The Rider

When your born in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota, where there is nothing but plains, cold, horses and cattle your life options are very limited. You’re probably going to be poor and working on a farm, or training horses or riding dangerous animals in a Rodeo bucking bronco contests hoping you don’t get kicked in the head and become brain damaged for life. This is the story of “The Rider” about a young man who is kicked in the head by a horse in a Rodeo and his life after the accident. Obviously these are all not very good life options, but when your are born and live in the middle of nowhere and live in a trailer with no money, what are your alternatives? As I have said in this blog before with other films I have reviewed, “you’re going along for the ride”. We are all the products of our parents, our DNA and where we are born.

Very unusual for this movie is that the characters are fictional but the actors in “The Rider” are the actual people who lived through the real events in this story. One of the actors is Lilly Jandreau who is the mentally disabled sister of Brady Jandreau who was brain damaged in the Rodeo accident. The main character Brady Blackburn, played by Brady Jandreau does not have severe brain damage and despite his severe injury throughout most of this film, seems to be able to function normally. Another actor in this film was not as lucky and his brain damage was severe and some of the most depressing scenes in this movie involve his struggles in the hospital while Brady visited him.

The ratings for this movie are very high 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, but my rating for this movie is more in the 70% range, mainly because the film dragged too long in several areas and I thought there was enough of a story to tell. The huge vistas of South Dakota were impressively filmed, providing one good reason to see this movie. I thought this was a very simple story, very well told, but due to the other problems, I give The Rider only a marginal recommendation.

Movie Review: Disobedience

In some ways, the movie “Disobedience” reminds me of last years “Call Me by Your Name” that I did not like. The difference here is that two adult women know that they are gay but the devout Jewish community they live in make their relationship almost impossible.

The two women in this story are played by Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz. McAdams plays Esti, who is woman married to a Rabbi and after her relationship with Roni, played by Weisz she was disowned by her father and left home for good only returning for this funeral.

The story and message in this film are good ones – be yourself first and never live your life based on the opinions or even religious beliefs of other people. I hated the constant chain smoking mostly by Weisz’s character and the fact that so many movies are still funded by cigarette companies is a disgusting practice that has to stop.

I admired the courage of both McAdams and Weisz with one sex scene that I thought had one way over the top moment – as did Call me by your Name and the fact the neither one of them wore makeup throughout the entire film. Most of this movie was shot in dark, lower middle class environments both inside and outside that I found rather depressing for the whole two hours. At certain points the story dragged on too long, mainly because there was not enough of a story to tell. The ratings for this movie on Rotten Tomatoes are very high 88% that I agree with only because of the acting, not for the overall movie.

Only for the quality of the acting, I recommend Disobedience.

Movie Review: Life of the Party

Melissa McCarthy is one of the most likable comedic actors to come around in many years and it has been her likability rather than the quality of the movies she has made that has contributed to her longevity with a so many films in recent years. Her new movie “Life of the Party” also takes advantage of McCarthy’s likability rather than the quality of the script that was written by McCarthy and her husband Ben Falcone. The screenplay for this movie reads like it was a series of disjointed vignette’s – rather than a story that flows into a beginning, middle and end. Each story within this film is almost standalone, going for a big laugh each time and in the audience I was in there were very few laughs, unfortunately.

This is a movie entirely for big fans of Melissa McCarthy and not for people who like a very good comedy movie. For this reason I give this movie a marginally negative review.

Movie Review: Breaking In

The problem with a movie like “Breaking In” is that we have seen this movie so many times before. Even this specific idea about armed criminals trying to break into a sophisticated high technology house is just about the same as the recent movie “Traffik”. Its bad enough to make a movie like this, but to release this film about 2 weeks after Traffik came out makes very little sense.

This movie stars Gabrielle Union and its too bad a very good actress like her has to take a role in a bad movie like this one. The reviews for Breaking In are pretty bad, only 29% on Rotten Tomatoes and this time around the critics are correct. This screenplay is run of the mill and never should have been produced. This movie should be skipped in the hope that we have seen the last of this same story ever again.

Movie Review: Overboard

Once again while seeing the new movie “Overboard” I was fascinated by the Hollywood decision making machine when it comes to deciding what movie to remake.  The star of this movie Anna Faris has said on a few talk shows promoting this movie that she saw the original Overboard starring Goldie Hawn something like 80 times.  The question anyone would have for Faris is, why did she see this average movie so many times and then why was it remade? I have heard rumors that the original Overboard is some kind of a cult classic so perhaps that is the reason why this movie was remade, but who knows how this kind of decision is made in Hollywood.

As far as the movie I thought it was better than the low ratings, 30% on Rotten Tomatoes and only a 4.1 on IMDB and seemed like more of a remake of the movie Regarding Henry that was released in 1991. Regarding Henry was a much better movie than this one and starred Harrison Ford and Annette Benning and had close to the same idea as Overboard. “A rich and self centered person suffers a head injury and transitions into a much better person after the injury.” This is a good log-line for a movie, but only if its believable. The problem with Overboard is the idea of how this rich man with amnesia becomes the unwitting husband to Anna Faris character and father to 3 young girls was not at all believable. Adding to the problems with this story is the plight of a single mother financially struggling to the point of having 42 dollars left in her bank account and having to raise 3 daughters. This is a comedy and there is nothing funny about struggling financially as a single mother.

The other star of Overboard is Eugenio Derbez who is the biggest star in Mexico. Why he would choose this relatively mediocre movie to make his main debut into the American film industry is anyone’s guess.

For this movie I cannot either recommend or reject seeing it and whoever reads this blog should make up their own mind from the trailer. I would give this film a grade of 50%.

Movie Review: Tully

When the movie “Juno” was released in 2007 written by a stripper by the name of Diablo Cody who then won an academy award for best original screenplay – anyone who ever had ambitions of being a screenwriter took notice of this, because of the remote possibility of hitting a home run like Juno after writing a first screenplay. Diablo Cody writes real life – extremely well in Juno and now Tully.

The difference between her new movie Tully and Juno is that Juno was more of a comedy and Tully is more of a very serious real life look into – the reality of lower middle class life with 3 kids. Anyone who has ambitions of having a family with 3 or more kids should see this movie to realize that there is no nirvana. No magic bullet. Middle class life with kids and little money is hard, very hard. Middle class life with kids is about not having enough money, never getting enough sleep, never ending problems, weight gain for a long list of reasons, arguments, stress, frustrations and anger. Adding to all the problems facing Marlo, played by Charlize Theron, has is her learning disabled and autistic son ad this movie demonstrates these problems very well. Marlo’s husband is played by actor Ron Livingston who seems barely awake during most of this movie, surviving one day at a time, trying to get some sleep, like way too many people facing the reality of life, a job you hate and never enough money.

I thought Cody took some risks with this screenplay, creating the character of Tully, played by actress Mackenzie Davis who provides an interesting twist at the end of this story that many people might miss if they are not paying attention. I thought the risk with this part of the story was worth it but the payoff was not as satisfying as I would have liked it to be. That fact that its been 11 years since Juno was released and now Tully being Cody’s second very well reviewed mainstream movie – shows anybody who has tried to write a screenplay how difficult it is and how long the odds. You also have to admire the 50 pound weight gain that Theron put on to perform this role and its depressing look into the reality of being a lower middle class mother.

The ratings for Tully on Rotten Tomatoes are a very high 89% and for the most part I agree with this assessment but more in the 75% range. The acting of Theron and Davis is very good and carries most of the story and throughout this entire film, I never noticed anyone acting and the dialogue was as natural and real life in any movie that I can remember.

I thought Tully was very well done and I do recommend it.