Movie Review: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is Quentin Tarantino’s ninth movie that he has both written and directed. In every movie he has ever made, he has tried to make a movie that is different than any other film produced and he did succeed in making something very different with this production. What I admired the most was the perfectly created period from the year 1969, where every car, and every scene honored the world in that landmark year, 50 years ago. Somewhere in California there are a series of warehouses where thousands of cars are housed and maintained for movies like this one and that alone is very impressive. What I disliked the most was the constant chain smoking that arguably was prevalent in 1969 but to this frequency I thought it was way over done. I also hated the last scene of extreme violence was way over the top and completely unnecessary, regardless of how deserving the victims of the violence were.

Tarantino has succeeded once again in creating a movie unlike any other, however this one is different bad, rather than different good like all of his previous eight movies. I saw no evidence of a real story story here, just a series of disconnected and fragmented scenes involving an actor, Rick Dalton who is on the down side of his career, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and his stunt double Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt. There are other minor scenes involving the late actress Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie that never seem to have any real purpose or connection to the other part of the story involving Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth.  I was surprised how many of these disconnected scenes were not only not interesting, but very boring. I must have looked at my watch 20 times during this way too long 161 minute movie, obviously a bad sign.

The the critics on Rotten Tomatoes are giving this movie an 88% rating and this makes no sense to me because my rating is only 50% mainly for the sets, cars and the many memories of 50 years ago. I do not recommend Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Its too long, there is no real story and there is way too much chain smoking and an insanely unnecessary violent scene at the end. This movie is only for die hard fans of Quentin Tarantino or the year 1969.

Movie Review: The Lion King

The big story for the movie “The Lion King” is that the critics, despite the spectacular special effects and simple but solid story are only giving this high quality production a low rating of 55%.

The most impressive thing about this film is that the computer generated animation is the best I have ever seen, and all the animals look 100% real. The story is simple and is about jealousy, power, friendship and greed. I thought the story was told extremely well, despite what the critics have said. It is definitely not the best animated film ever made, but it is at least, very good. So much for the critics who are in this case, once again, very wrong. Considering the enormous amount of hard work that went into making this movie for several years, to receive low ratings, is probably the most unexpected review of a movie I have seen for quite some time.

The Lion King is a very good movie for kids and adults and I give it a solid 85% rating and do recommend it.

Movie Review: The Art of Self-Defense

The movie “The Art of Self-Defense” starring Jessie Eisenberg is one of those films that tries extremely hard to be different than anything ever done before. Unfortunately, sometimes when a story tries too hard to be different, the result is illogical and in the case of this movie, too off the wall and weird. The strange story of this film, that involves a man who is mugged and almost killed, deciding to take Karate lessons, degrades into something that is not believable.

The story started out pretty well, showing the reasons why Casey, played by Eisenberg considers buying a gun after being mugged and almost killed by several motorcycle attackers and then changes his mind to wanting to learn Karate. From this point on, the story goes from run of the mill, to unexpected and then into a strange direction, that for me, did not make any sense. Its OK to be different and unusual but illogical and strange should not be what follows.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for The Art of Self-Defense is a high 83% but my rating is only 60% because of the strange story and ending. For those reasons, I do not recommend this movie.

Movie Review: Stuber

The thinking in Hollywood California about the idea of pairing actor Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista was probably that they are such an unlikely pair and so different culturally that this would lead to a new buddy-cop-comedy team. Nanjiani was so funny in the movie “The Big Sick”, that he will be funny again in this movie. Unfortunately the movie The Big Sick had a great script and Nanjiani was funny, because the dialogue and situation was funny. This is not the case with Stuber. Everything starts with a great idea, then a great story and screenplay and there are never any shortcuts.

The story of Stuber starts out impressively with some very good action scenes that were very effective, but not believable given that two characters fall from heights of over two stories, which is supposed to kill any human being. The Karate expert Iko Uwais is in these scenes, and he is arguably one of the best movie Karate experts of all time. Once the movie is past the opening scenes, what follows are some boring chases and a story-line involving corrupt police officers that we have all seen thousands of times before. Some attempts at comedy with Uber driver Stu, played by Nanjiani and a police officer Vic, played by Bautista mostly all falls very flat. The actress Mira Sorvino also appears in this film in a small role and it was nice to see her in a movie again, but its too bad that her white hot career of some 15 years ago is at least for right now, a distant memory. The comedy movie test that I always use also failed, because there were almost no laughs during the almost 2 hours of this film.

I agree with the low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes for Stuber that are a low 46% and I do not recommend this movie.

Movie Review: Crawl

The new movie “Crawl” gets high marks for originality. A father and daughter are trapped in a basement during a major Hurricane surrounded by very large Alligators. I have to admit, I have never seen something like this before. The only problem with this story, is the same problem with all movies like this; people do stupid things more for Hollywood drama rather than because they are panicked. If someone panics and does something stupid because they are about to be eaten by a huge Alligator, then this makes sense and is understandable. However, some of the decisions in this movie, especially towards the end are just plain dumb and are only for increasing the drama, rather than enhancing what is a pretty good story. Crawl delivers what it promises, I just wish it could have done this with some more common sense and intelligence.

The Rotten Tomatoes are a surprisingly high 88% for Crawl, but my grade is only an average 75%, mostly for the very well done special effects than the story and some of the very bad decisions the characters make to try and survive.

Movie Review: Wild Rose

There should be more movies like “Wild Rose” made, for the millions of young people who aspire to move to Hollywood to be an actor or a famous singer. The odds are very long and what this film shows, is the truth about these long odds. The reality of the luck involved, the disappointments and heartache, the breaks that are needed and might never come. It all amounts to gambling with your entire life. There are the lucky few and the thousands who never make it. It doesn’t matter that you work hard to achieve your dreams or that you may actually be the most talented, like the singer in this movie. What matters is that Rose-Lynn has been the absentee single mother to 2 kids starting at age 18. Her talent will always come in second to her children.

The lead character of Wild Rose,Rose-Lynn is played by Jessie Buckley, who is not only an outstanding actor in this role, but a great singer as well. Her mother Marion, played well by Julie Walters comes to her daughters rescue frequently because of the late nights and drinking that come with her daughters life as a lounge singer.

This movie takes place in Scotland, a very unlikely location for a singer who wants to become a country singer who lives in Nashville. One problem wit this film is because of the very thick Scottish accents, many times it was impossible to fully understand what people were saying.

The message of this movie is a good one. Just because the odds are long and probably impossible does not mean to not try to achieve your dreams.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for Wild Rose are a very high 94% and I agree with this assessment and highly recommend this film.

Past Movie Reviews: Harrison Ford and Kevin Costner

Neither Kevin Costner or Harrison Ford have ever won an Academy Award for best acting, but just based on these two scenes below, they should have won for best actor for Ford and supporting actor for Costner. In terms of showing real emotion in a movie, it does not get better than these two scenes from “Air Force One”, released in 1997 and Molly’s Game, released in 2017.

Movie Review: Spiderman: Far From Home

The newest addition to the Spiderman franchise, “Spiderman: Far From Home”, I thought was a very solid addition to the series, directly connected to the last Marvel Film, “Avengers Endgame” – where Ironman/Tony Stark dies. The time travel and loss of half of humanity is explained at the start of this film by calling what happened “A blip” in time. As I stated in my review of the Avengers movie, everybody has to suspend all sense of common sense and logic to buy into the time travel idea in Avengers Endgame, where half the worlds population is rescued using time travel.

There is a twist in the story of Far From Home, that I thought was too far fetched to believe that most of the science could be pulled off by the villain in this movie played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Samuel L. Jackson is once again in another Marvel movie, adding to his long record of super hero movie appearances playing the Nick Fury character. Spiderman is once again played well by Tom Holland, in his second appearance in this franchise.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for this film is a very high 93% and I would rate it at about 80% mainly due to the convoluted story idea. I recommend Spiderman: Far From Home.