Sunday, July 31, 2016

Weekly Trailer Recap: Well Some of These Look Interesting


Can someone say paycheck for Morgan Freeman? I have not been impressed by a single trailer for Ben-Hur. The trailers have been trying to appeal to different groups of people, but not doing a good job of appealing to anyone. The CG looks horrible, and the story has been told before in epic fashion. I’m not sure how this movie got green lit. It’s not a franchise and no one is clamoring for swords or sandals films. I won’t be going to see Ben-Hur unless the reception is amazing and everyone talking about says it is a must watch.

Office Christmas Party:

This trailer made me laugh, and hopefully it didn’t give away all of the jokes in the film. All of the actors I like, and the premise sounds funny. This is exactly the kind of movie I want to watch around Christmas, well minus the newest Star Wars film. I hope the future trailers don’t give many more jokes away and the movie can become a hit winter comedy.


The newest film by M. Night Shyamalan looks intriguing. I haven’t liked any of the past few Shyamalan films, like the vast majority of people. I didn’t see The Visit, but it had more of a positive reception than his other recent movies. This may be a return to form. James McAvoy performance from the trailer alone looks fantastic. The chance to change characters twenty three times for a film will be challenging, but I think McAvoy can pull it off. This is the first film from Shyamalan in a long time that I plan on seeing in the theaters.

The Accountant:

I’m not sure about this one. It looks interesting, and Ben Affleck has been on a hot streak, but the two different contrasting tones don’t mesh well with me. I’m all for an action piece where an account is the surprising action star, but not sure about adding the social anxiety aspect. It just seems like a strange paring, but I’m still interested in the movie. I’m just not sure it is something I will see in the theater.

Hacksaw Ridge:

If there was a trailer that stole the week it is Hacksaw Ridge. The film looks to pull all the right strings, and be a potential Oscar contender. Mel Gibson might not be a great person, but he does make good movies, and I’m interested to see how this film turns out. It is an interesting story to tell, and one which probably should be told. A solider who goes into battle, but doesn’t fire a shot, and wasn’t trained as a medic. I’m interested to see why the Army didn’t designate him as a medic if he didn’t want to fight.

The Great Wall:

Hey look, let’s try to capitalize on the growing Chinese movie market, and still grab some North American viewers by casting Matt Damon. This is all the trailer said to me. I like Matt Damon in almost everything he does, but this just screams money grab. Hopefully subsequent trailers explore more of the story and get me excited to see the movie. This trailer did not do its job in getting me excited to watch the film. 

Friday, July 29, 2016

Jason Bourne - Movie Review: Action over Substance

I’m a trained assassin who has stayed off the grid for years, but, man, a Vegas trip sure sounds nice. They don’t have many camera’s there do they?
Jason Bourne starring Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel and directed by Paul Greengrass. Jason Bourne is the fourth film in the franchise to star Matt Damon and is a solid action flick, but lacks the compelling story the other three movies had. Bourne is forced once again to match wits with the CIA, try to get away and expose what they are doing. This time he goes up against a new breed in Alicia Vikander’s character Heather Lee. Tommy Lee Jones plays the CIA director Robert Dewey who still is trying to control and contain secret programs which he thinks protect American lives.

The action in the movie is still fantastic. If you have been a fan of the other three movies, the two directed by Paul Greengrass in particular, you will enjoy the fourth installment. Greengrass does use shaky cam action shots, but I think he does it well. If you aren’t a fan of this type of action, you won’t enjoy much of Jason Bourne. I never felt lost during an action shot. Greengrass still controls the camera so the audience knows what is going on during a sequence. There are a few really intense and well done action sequences, and I enjoyed all of them. The story they tell to fit all of these action scenes in the film seems forced. The movie suffers from bigger sequel syndrome; thinking the need to go bigger and better with their car chases or fight scenes to make the movie stand out. For me what has always made the Bourne movies great is the well told story coupled with the good action. Make action on the exact same level, just tell a good story to go along with it.

The performances are also all good in the movie. Matt Damon is still great as the title character, and eases right back into his role. Alicia Vikander steals the movie, though her try at an American accent did bother me a little bit. If there is a reason to make more Bourne movies she it. One aspect of the story that was well done was her character. You never truly know what side she is on, and she is politically maneuvering the entire film. Her interactions with Tommy Lee Jones are really good. Jones turns in his standard performance. He by all accounts he isn’t a very nice individual to work with, but he is a good actor. There is one scene in particular with Vikander and Jones where his character has no dialogue, but just the acting he does with his eyes says everything. You don’t need any dialogue for him to convey what he is feeling and thinking.

The performance and action are good enough to enjoy the film. Where the movie fails is in its overall story. There has been a big time jump between the last Bourne film until now, and they don’t do a good enough job of explaining what he has been up to. It is hinted at, with the introduction of a character, but it leaves it as a mystery. The first films where all about Bourne trying to find out his identity and how he became the trained assassin. They try to give a compelling reason in this film for him to find out why he joined treadstone, but it just didn’t mesh well for me. They also shoehorn in another bad guy assassin. They give him more of a backstory than any of other assassins in the previous films, but it isn’t needed. Vincent Cassel does a good job in the role, but his backstory isn’t necessary for the story to work. They should have completely left one part out, or changed Bourne’s motivations for the film completely. The added backstory story tries to give Cassel’s character motivation, but the main arch in the film does this already. The decisions the character makes don’t make sense for a trained stealth assassin. Like planning an operation in Las Vegas, and a few others during the final part of the movie. This is where I think they felt they needed a bigger action set piece, and a smaller one would have worked just as well and fit the story and characters better.

Jason Bourne isn’t a bad film, but it isn’t up to the level of the first three. It is sadly, a noticeable step down in story from the previous movies.  I still had a fun time watching it, and could watch it again. If you a fan of the franchise this is a film is Worth Seeing, and worth seeing in the theaters. If you think the previous movies have just been okay, then you could wait for this to be available to rent.
Let me know what you think of the newest Bourne film if you have seen it. What is your favorite action scene from any of the movies? Mine is either the first car chase in the beat up mini, or when he fought with a magazine. Comment and let me know

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

When Should Kids Watch... The Bourne Identity?? - Movie Review

The spy movies which caused James Bond films to make drastic changes.
The Bourne Identity is the first film in the Bourne Franchise that has spawned three sequels starring Matt Damon and one with Jeremy Renner. The films are known for their fantastic action, intriguing internal CIA politics, and the mystery of discovering Jason Bourne’s past. When is a good age to introduce kids to these fantastic films? The action can be intense in the series and the story could be hard to follow for those who don’t pay close attention. The Bourne identity is rated PG-13, and a PG-13 film is somewhat of a grey area when it comes to the rating system. They can range from extremely dark and gritty pushing the R boundary, to extremely kid friendly with one or two words or situations which push the movie to the PG-13 status.

There is not much foul language in The Bourne Identity. It does use its one allotted F word, and some other cuss words, but nothing which would prevent me from letting my twelve year old watch, or even anyone a few years younger than that. The film has one sexual situation, but we just see Jason and the love interest of the film Marie start to kiss. This isn’t anything which would prevent me from letting any age range watch. The reason the movie gets its PG-13 rating is for its intense action. There are brutal hand to hand fight scenes along with some gun violence. There are also a few graphic images from some deaths. These would be the parts of the film which would hold me back from letting younger kids watch. The two most shocking are when we see the poor land lady shot in the head, and when the assassin jumps out the window and we see him lying on the street. You don’t see the land lady get shot, nor do you see the assassin hit the pavement, if so this would have been an R movie, but it would still give me pause for anyone eight or under.

The main issue, besides the violence, I would have with showing younger kids The Bourne Identity or any of the Bourne movies are the complex stories the films tell. Is it complex for adults who pay attention? No, but trying explaining amnesia to a seven year old, along with brainwashing. They also have to understand the complex political situation going on at the CIA during the story. A secret shadow operation within the CIA creating programmed assassins is a fantastic concept to base a story around, but not easy to grasp for children. When I introduce my kids to a story I want them to be able to understand and enjoy most if not all points to the film. Yes an eight to ten year old would enjoy the movie for the sheer action, but might fail to grasp all of the twist and turns the story takes. The parts were they are trying to determine who the dead body is in the morgue, and why it is there could be hard to follow. I guess you could argue to let a child watch when they are younger and enjoy the action, and when they get older they can enjoy the complexity. I think doing this runs the risk of the kid being bored by the parts with no action.

I remember going to watch the Bourne Identity for the first time and not knowing what to expect. Matt Damon as an action star? Seriously? I thought the trailers looked good and I was a Matt Damon fan. I loved Good Will Hunting, Rounders and many other of his early work and this looked interesting. I remember walking out of the theater being blown away. Wanting to read the books the character was based on and hoping there would be more movies. It was one of the first times I remember buying a DVD as soon as it was released. Which now have updated to the Blu-Ray and digital versions. It is a film franchise I want my kids to enjoy and I’m happy I can share it with my twelve year old, if I can actually get him to sit down and watch them. All of the films starring Damon are re-watchable, and he pulled off being an action star remarkably well. He didn’t have to latch onto a superhero franchise, he carved one out for himself.

The Bourne Identity is a fantastic spy thriller, and is one which can eventually be enjoyed by all. I think the right age range for kids to watch is anywhere between 9 to 11 depending on the child. When would you let your kids watch The Bourne Identity if you have them. What age where you when you saw the movie originally since I’m becoming an old man? Comment and let me know. 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

San Diego Comic Con Movie Trailers Recap/Review/Thoughts: (You know Rambling)

Another San Diego Comic Con has come and gone. For those of us not lucky enough to attend we have to devour what the studios deem worthy to release to the public. Luckily there was a plethora (Thank you Three Amigos) of trailers to drop to keep the masses satiated. There was so much I’m just going to give my thoughts on the movie trailers which dropped during the four day nerdgasm.

Let’s start with a one I probably won’t see.  Blair Witch:

I’m not a big horror fan, and while I saw the original Blair Witch Project in the theaters, I couldn’t tell you anything about the movie other than it ushered in the found footage movie craze. I don’t remember anything about the actual movie other than I didn’t really care for it. Making a sequel which ties back to the original doesn’t really interest me. The trailer looks just like any other modern horror movie, which isn’t my brand of film. I know there are many who love this kind of movie. To those I say go have a great time with this film and I hope it is fantastic. Just not for me.

The second movie I’m not sold on is Oliver Stone’s Snowden (because you have to put Oliver’s Stone name in front of anything he does)

I think the trailer for Snowden looks good, and I might end up seeing it. I just haven’t been impressed with any Oliver Stone movie for quite some time. I didn’t hate Savages, but it still wasn’t a great film. Snowden could go either way, it could be Stone’s return to form, or another ho hum true life tale in which he puts his own unique political spin.  I want this to be good because it is an interesting and important topic. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is impressive in the trailer, but I have little doubt he will turn in anything but a great performance. The movie could still be horrible, but he will be good in it.  I’ll wait for the reviews on this one before I decide to make my way to the theater. It is interesting that this movie trailer even debuted at Comic-Con.

Now for some heavy hitters: First up Suicide Squad

The final trailer for the Suicide Squad did nothing but ramp up my anticipation for the film. Last week I was worried they were flooding the market with too much material, but this trailer was still fantastic. The film looks interesting. There is no better way to describe it. We saw the first footage of the film last year, way before they wanted us too, and now all that is left is for us to see the movie. I’m excited to see how it is received, and hope it is a fantastic cap to the summer movie season.

DC brought trailers to show from their next two films the first being Wonder Women:

I liked the Wonder Women trailer. I’m excited they set the movie during World War One. It’s a time period that hasn’t been focused on recently, and I’m glad it is being given a spotlight in a Super Hero movie. As a person with a degree in History (not worth much) I’ll hope some inquiring minds might take more of an interest in this time period (pipe dream I know, but a guy can hope).  The action looks fantastic, and Chris Pine looks like he will play off of Gal Gadot well. I really like Pine as an actor and think it was a good choice to pair him with Gadot who doesn’t have as much experience acting. I’m excited for this film and hope it delivers. The Amazon Warrior scene was a high point of the trailer.

Then we have the new trailer for Justice League:

I didn’t hate Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but I didn’t love it. The extended cut is a better version of the film, but it still has issues. None of which was the tone of the film. Super Hero films can be dark and gritty and still be good. At the end of the day they just need to have compelling stories. I love the Marvel films, but this trailer feels like they are trying to copy their tone. If they are making Justice League lighter and more fun in tone I’m okay with it. It just needs to have a compelling and well told story. A lighter tone film doesn’t make a better Super Hero movie, see Batman and Robin. Compelling characters and good stories are what begin to make good films, I hope this film has that. I’m still not sold from the trailer.

Next up: Kong Skull Island:

I’m not sure about this movie after watching the trailer. The cast is fantastic though. You can’t help but be intrigued with the talent they have assembled for the movie. I wasn’t all that impressed with the trailer though. It seemed fairly standard, and we got small glimpses of Kong. You don’t want to spoil him until closer to the release, and I would have been happier with even less of a glimpse of him. I think this trailer should have been for the Comic-Con crowd and not the public.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword:

A Guy Ritchie period piece about the Legend of King Arthur. I’m a fan of Ritchie so I’m already going to see the movie. The film looks to have his classic flair, and gave me vibes of a Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels in a medieval setting. Throw in some Merlin magic, with Jude Law performing it, and Charlie Hunnam as King Arthur and I’m intrigued by the first look we have at the film. The film was pushed from being released this summer until 2017. It was actually supposed to debut this weekend. Maybe all of the rework they did on the film will pay off and it will be fantastic. I like just about everything Ritchie does, so I’m hoping for another fantastic film and interesting take on the Arthur legend.

Time for some Animation Fun: Sausage Party:

I’ve been sold on this movie since the first Red Band Trailer was released, and the second trailer doesn’t decrease my anticipation. It looks absolutely crazy, and all in the right way. I’m not exactly sure how Seth Rogen got the green light to make a crude animation movie about food, but I’m all in. It looks like Rogen and his friends got together one night while partaking in some illicit substances and came up with this movie idea. This is the comedy I’ve been waiting for all summer, and next to Suicide Squad it is the film I’m most interested to see in August.

The Lego Batman Movie:

Who would have thought we would be getting a Lego Batman Movie? The Lego Movie was a surprise hit, and one of the best parts was Batman. It was the perfect new take for the character, and a total success. I would question if they could take a side character and make an entire movie around him, but he is Batman. Both of the trailers have been fantastic. This trailer adds in Robin to the mix, and the fact Batman accidently adopted him is perfect. This isn’t my most anticipated Super Hero film of 2017, but I can’t say I’m not extremely excited to see the entire finished product. Hopefully the coinciding Lego Video game will be as fun as the movie.

Marvel only released on trailer to the public and it was for Doctor Strange:

I’m excited for this film. Both trailers have made me more interested in the character of Doctor Strange, and I think they found the perfect actor to portray him. The trailer shows more magic and more interdimensional weirdness. To think the Marvel universe has come from the world of Iron Man which closely resembles our own, to this, is amazing. I’m excited to see the finished product of this movie, and with the way Marvel makes films I have little doubt this will be a fun time at the movies.

My favorite trailer from Comic Con was Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them:

I admit the first time I heard this was the story being adapted I was skeptical. Knowing J.K. Rowling was the one writing the script eased my fears. The first trailer underwhelmed me a bit, but the last two have sold me on the film. I get chills when hearing John Williams score again. I want to learn more about these characters and the Wizarding world in America. This looks to be a fantastic new story with great new magical creatures and interesting new characters. If there is one thing Rowling’s does well it is creating interesting characters. She is a master, and this trailer highlights her new creations. I can’t wait.

Let me know your thoughts on any of the trailers from Comic-Con. Which was your favorite? Which one are you not looking forward too? Comment and let me know. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Star Trek Beyond - Movie Review: A Tribute to Nimoy

 Is it okay for a person to truly love both Star Wars and Star Trek?
Star Trek Beyond starring Chris Pine, Zachery Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Sofia Boutella, Anton Yelchin, and directed by Justin Lin. When I say it stars all of those actors, the movie truly does. Each one of them shines in the film, and it is an ensemble effort. The movie starts with the crew of the Enterprise three years into their five year mission. They have to dock with a space station for supplies, but must quickly depart again when an alien shows up asking for help in rescuing her crew. The Enterprise is the only ship capable of performing a rescue attempt and the crew quickly swing into action.

The best thing about Star Trek Beyond is its cast and the chemistry they all have with one another. They genially all look like they are having fun playing these parts, and are comfortable in portraying the iconic characters. Pine, Quinto, and Urban have from the start of the new movies, but the rest of the cast have grown into their roles. It also makes sense for the characters they portray to be more comfortable with one another. They have been in deep space for three years simply relying on themselves. They know how to work as a team, to accomplish a task, and have absolute faith in one another. If there is one aspect of the story this film does beautifully it is hammering this point home. Some might say it is too on the nose, but I enjoyed this story aspect immensely. All of the relationships have meaning in the story and seem genuine. Which comes from both the cast having fun with their roles, and the script Simon Pegg and Doug Jung wrote.

You can see Simon Pegg’s fingerprints all over the story. The dialogue is quick and witty, and at times very funny. Karl Urban steals the show with his deadpan humor, and had me laughing throughout the movie at just the right points. There was one line in particular that had the entire theater rolling. Along with the banter the dialogue between all of the characters seems natural. There is no part with the main cast that feels forced or untrue to the story being told. There is once scene in particular where most of the crew are working on a problem. They all each have an idea and contribute to the solving the issue. I noticed this while watching the movie, but not because it wasn’t well done, but due to how well the scene worked in the film.

The great interactions between the characters were spaced evenly with insanely good action. I’ve never watched a Fast and Furious film, they have just never caught my interest, but I now know Justin Lin can direct action. There are five or six fantastic set pieces in Star Trek Beyond. They each deliver something different, and I was on the edge of my seat the entire run time. Which is another plus of the movie along with the action the pacing never slows down. The film is always on the move, with the right amount of time to left for the story to develop before the next action piece. There was only one time where I felt the action scene wasn’t handled well. I got lost with what was happening on screen because of the lighting and the surrounding of the shots. It wasn’t horrible, but it just wasn’t as good as the other action sets which were phenomenal.

The only minor complaints I have with the film are its villain and the conveniences placed within the story. Idris Elba does a good job as the villain, and his is better than Eric Bana’s Nero from the first film, but I still felt his motivation were lacking. The story explains why he is fighting, but it just doesn’t feel natural or that believable. It is the only part of the film that felt out of place. He still is menacing and you want the crew to stop him. I just wanted a better reason as to why he was trying to destroy the Federation. I also found his story predictable, along with the way the rest of the crew make discoveries throughout the film. Some crewmembers just happen to run into certain areas to make big discoveries on a massive planet. However these are minor nitpicks, and they didn’t bother me much. It was just noticeable and stood out compared to how well the other parts of the story flowed.

One element that did not feel out of place were the tributes the film had to Leonard Nimoy and the character he made iconic.  There were three times in the film where the movie played tribute to the man. Each one touching and well done. I don’t think Zachery Quinto was acting when he delivered some of his lines in the film. He wasn’t talking about Spock but Nimoy. I’m glad they took the time to pay tribute to him within the movie. I have never been a fan of the original series, it was before my time. I grew up watching the original crew’s movies, and The Next Generation. Spock and Nimoy were a huge part of each. Some of the best stories in Next Generation had him in it. It was fantastic that he was a part of the new movies and was the perfect actor and character to bridge the gap between the two universes. He is still missed.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Anton YelichinZa. Who again, did a fantastic job as Chekov. He was taken too soon, but he shines bright in this film. There is a nice small gesture at the end of the film, and I’m sure others will be made in the next installments.
The movie overall is fantastic. It is well worth seeing. I plan on going back to the theater to see it again. For a summer with not many big blockbuster hits, Star Trek Beyond deserves to be praised. I’ve enjoyed all of the films with the new crew (yes even Into Darkness), but this one is probably my favorite. I’ll have to wait until repeat viewings, but I think it is the most complete and well-made of the three.

If you have seen Star Trek Beyond comment and let me know what you thought. If you haven’t seen it what are you waiting for? Go see it. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Star Wars Aftermath Life Debt Book Review: I Want an Ewok Therapy Helper

Chucks Wendig’s second novel in the Star Wars universe is a direct sequel to his first. Aftermath Life Debt starts a few months after the conclusion of the first novel. The ragtag crew introduced in the first book has been going on missions to capture high ranking Imperial dignitaries and officers.  The book opens up with one of their capture attempts and does a great job of setting up the rest of the novel. I was letdown by the first Aftermath, but I think it was due to the expectations I had for the book. I was expecting a story about Wedge and the establishment of the New Republic after Return of the Jedi. Instead the first book introduced new characters and told personal stories about how the collapse of the Empire had affected different worlds. I enjoyed the second half of Aftermath once the team of characters met up, but Life Debt was enjoyable all the way through.

One reason why I liked Life Debt more than the first Aftermath is that the characters are already established. Wendig did a good job of introducing all of the characters in the first book, and now you are invested in their stories. They are all interesting, with Sinjir being my favorite of the new characters introduced. He is one of, if not the most, complex character brought into the Star Wars Universe. He has a certain skill set that is valuable to the New Republic, but doesn’t like the way he feels when he uses it. Sinjir doesn’t see himself as a good person because of the things he has done and continues to do. He wants to move away from this life, but he seems to keep getting pulled back in. The complexities he adds to the book expands upon the universe and paints the galaxy in more colors of grey rather than black and white.

This is something which has been happening across many of the new cannon materials. Making many of the Imperials more relatable so you can understand their motivations. Grand Admiral Rae Sloan is a good example of this. I don’t root for her to succeed, but you can understand her drive because of where she came from. You also feel that the Empire may not be as evil with her in charge. It still wouldn’t be the government I would want to live under, but she isn’t inherently evil. Though she was pretty nasty to Wedge in the last novel. The new character who is pulling her strings is interesting. She sees him as bad for the Empire, but doesn’t see a way to beat him. I thought Wendig was going to introduce Thrawn with the way he setup the epilogue in the first Aftermath. We now know they had other plans for Thrawn, but this new character is interesting as well. He is calculating and his history is instantly intriguing. Wendig again in his epilogue tantalized and left me wanting more, because of this character.

One other major aspect Life Debt has over its predecessor is the inclusion of Leia and Han. We don’t get a ton of them, but they are in the novel much more than Wedge was in Aftermath. They tie into the story together nicely. Titling the novel Life Debt and not including much of Han, Leia, and Chewie could have caused unreal expectations again. The way the story is told makes how much they are in the novel a natural progression. Wendig does a good job in writing and portraying both Han and Leia, and I’m interested to see what he will with them in the final chapter of his trilogy. I’m curious if Luke will finally make an appearance in the final installment. If he does it might have some impact on events we see in Force Awakens and in Episode Eight.

The only drawback the novel has was that the conclusion was predictable, and an unneeded love triangle.  It doesn’t take away from the story, but I saw where it was headed. The only other issue I have with the novel are the interludes. I like every single one in the book, but they pull you out of the main story. I want to spend more time with the interludes instead of the small tastes given. It is great to see what the state of the galaxy is and how different walks of life are handling it. I especially enjoyed the story about the news reporter who was imbedded with Republic forces, along with the trooper who lost his leg on Endor and is dealing with PTSD. He is given a therapy droid, and turns down a therapy Ewok. I laughed extremely hard when I read this part of the story. Ewok’s would be perfect therapy companions and good on Wendig with coming up with the idea. It is perfect. The issue with the interludes is that they are too short. They deserve to be short stories in their own anthology book. Some of the best Legends books were collections. They could easily do this again with these stories and expand upon them. Then these stories would be given their due, and the main story of Life Debt wouldn’t be interrupted. My suggestion for those reading is skip the Interludes and go back and read them after you finish the main story.

I really enjoyed Aftermath Life Debt. Wendig’s characters are intriguing and you are invested in them after the first novel. He also writes action extremely well, and he captures the essence of Star Wars battles in both of his novels. The last part of Aftermath left me excited for Life Debt and Wendig delivered. This is a good addition to the new cannon of Star Wars, and I look forward to the conclusion of his trilogy.

What did you think of Life Debt if you have finished it? Comment and let me know. 

Streaming Spotlight: Bottle Shock - Movie Review

The lesser known of the two movies made about wine from the 2000’s.

Bottle Shock starring Chris Pine, Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman, Rachael Taylor, Freddy Rodriquez, and directed by Randall Miller. The film is based on the true story of a 1976 blind tasting competition between French and California wines. Bottle Shock focuses its story on one California vineyard in particular owned by Bill Pullman’s character Jim Barrett who is helped by his son Bo played by Chris Pine. They are a struggling financially and without producing a successful wine for the season Jim will have to sell the vineyard. Enter the British wine enthusiast played by the late great Alan Rickman who offers to put California wines up against the vaunted French. Rickman’s character, Steven Spurrier doesn’t really think the California wines have a chance, but he’s surprised by how good the wine is in California.

Bottle Shock is a simple light fun movie. There isn’t much depth to its story, but the film does try and add more to its characters. It’s about the romance of making wine along with the desire to do something with your life. Jim Barrett left a law firm to buy a winery and make wine. He knows what he is doing, but there is always a hint of him being lost in the process. Bo is a hippy who is still lost in the sixties, and doesn’t want to grow up. Rachael Taylor plays the girl interest for Pine and Freddy Rodriquez, and adds love triangle element to the story. She is probably the least developed character, but still plays the role well. I could have probably done without this story element, but it doesn’t hurt the movie either.  Rickman’s character Spurrier wants to prove he belongs in the wine circles in France and sees the competition as a way to become established. Most of the characters have something to prove to either themselves or the outside world, and while it might be a tad cliché, I found the story and characters engaging.

All of the actors in the roles do a fantastic job. Pine might seem out of place playing the hippy, but he does it well. There is a great scene with him going to a country club to ask for money from his mother and is beautifully awkward. Alan Rickman stands out above everyone, because of who he is. He plays the pompous British wine snob to perfection. There is a hint of his inner goodness throughout the film though. He has the façade of being a snob, but in the end you can’t help but like his character. I can watch this movie over and over simply because Rickman is in it and how well he acts in the role. The film is worth a watch at least once just to see him perform. Don’t get me wrong he’s not playing Macbeth, but he just does a great job. Pine and Rickman are the two standouts in the film for me, but Rodriquez does a good job with his part and adds an interesting Mexican-American element to the story. It might be a little heavy handed at times, but I still enjoyed it. The entire story might be a little on the nose overall, but with its light fun tone, it doesn’t worry about making big statements with its characters.

The backdrop and setting of the film is another reason why I enjoyed it so much. Setting the film in Napa Valley is fantastic. The characters travel around the valley quite a bit and why wouldn’t you use this as an excuse to shoot the fantastic scenery. Along with the scenery I found the musical score in the movie added to the tone of the film. I liked that Spurrier had a nice little French theme to go along with him, and Bo a rock. Then with the sweeping shots of the valley you get an appropriate musical score to accompany them. The score just added a bit more enjoyment to the light hearted good natured movie.

The only issue I have with the movie is that the pacing is a little off. It probably is about ten to fifteen minutes too long, and some scenes could have been cut to speed up time. They could have cut out the love triangle aspect and it would have sped up the pacing. The ending has one too many scenarios, and while parts of each story are probably true, the film could have cut back on one and it would have streamlined the ending of the film. Even with these problems I have watched Bottle Shock numerous times. I’ll stop and watch if I catch it on television at any point and watch until the conclusion.

For me Bottle Shock is an enjoyable fun film based on true life events. I think it is worth watching, and if you have Amazon Prime you can stream it as part of their video service at the moment. If you have seen it before let me know what you think. If not does it sound interesting? Comment and let me know. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Star Wars Celebration Recap: Rebels Steals the Show

There is little doubt anyone who attended Star Wars Celebration in London had a fantastic time. Just being surround by thousands of people who love Star Wars with a passion would make be an amazingly fun time. The actual news from the show was on the light side, at least on the movie front. Star Wars Celebration lead off with the Rogue One panel on Friday and bookended the event with the future films panel. As someone who did not get to attend the event the news, besides the announcement of Grand Admiral Thrawn’s return, was disappointing.

What is maddening is Rogue One’s panel shouldn’t have been disappointing. The sizzle real they released during the panel is fantastic and gives a great look at the feel of the film. It showed some great new aliens along with some exciting new locals. It also feels like it is set in the same time period as A New Hope. The disappointment comes in not actually getting a trailer. I don’t mind the people at Celebration seeing it while the rest of the world didn’t. I think people who go and pay money for an event should have exclusive content. The problem I have is Disney didn’t come out and shutdown the rumors that there was a three minute trailer being shown at Celebration first and then later during on television. It would have been easy to come out with a press release stating what was going to be released. The three minute sizzle real would have still gotten me to tune into the live stream. I watched the ABC event that night thinking they may drop the trailer still. I probably wouldn’t have watched that if I had seen the trailer, but I can’t fault them for driving ratings on their network station. Not getting the trailer was the disappointment. It wasn’t an earth shattering disappointment because the sizzle real is great, but a trailer seeing Vader would have started the weekend off in amazing fashion.

I’m not sure why they didn’t release a trailer to the general public. They may have held back because Comic-Con is next week. They may release the second trailer to stay relevant during the massive amount of news which will drop next week. This is the only thing I can come up with for not releasing something to the general public. Give the fans at Celebration more of Vader or something else special, but the hype machine for Rogue One should be building for the release of the film.

While Friday was a mild disappointment, Saturday was exceptional. Star Wars Rebels stole the entire weekend with its announcement of Grand Admiral Thrawn’s return to cannon. The season three trailer introduced the new villain. Dave Filoni teased the return of a Legends character a few times during the lead up to celebration; tweeting there is always some truth in Legends. If I had a short list of characters to make cannon from the Legends books Thrawn would be one or two, with Mara Jade being the other. I don’t see her being introduced anytime soon, so I’ll take Thrawn. It was a perfect way to blow the top off the panel. Then they followed it up with announcement that Timothy Zahn, the creator of the character would be coming back to write a cannon novel about Thrawn’s origins. I’m not sure I could have been any more excited or happy watching the Star Wars Rebels panel.

Thrawn wasn’t the only highlight of the trailer. Kanan looks to be on a new journey with his blindness. Maul is still pulling strings and trying to influence Ezra. Ezra is going down his own path and slowly descending into darkness. Kanan may be able to pull him back, but with more of his focus on himself Ezra will be left to his own devices. It will be an interesting overriding arc for the season. The other arc which might play into the season is the group investigating where the Empire’s resources are going. I think the crew may play a pivotal role in the Rebellion finding out about the Death Star. This would feed right into the release of Rogue One.

Sunday wrapped up with the new filmmakers panel. There was no new news to come out of the Panel. They brought out Rian Johnson and he talked about making Episode Eight. What would have really capped off Celebration would have been a title release for the next movie. I understand not wanting to take away any marketing from Rogue One, but I don’t think a title announcement would take much away. They did bring out Alden and talk to Lorde and Miller about the Han Solo movie, but everyone knew he was the actor cast. It would have been nice to get another Star Wars Story announcement, like an Obi Wan Movie

The atmosphere at Star Wars Celebration seemed amazing, and I can’t wait to experience one myself. The news to come out of it was just a little underwhelming compared to what dropped at last year’s event.  Without the announcements on Saturday there wouldn’t have been any major news. Thrawn stole the show, but it would have been awesome for him to be the icing on the cake with a trailer showing Vader on Friday, and the title for Episode Eight to close out the event. I’m sure Lucasfilm has a marketing plan in place, but it just seemed odd not to release more information this weekend, and dominate every day like they did on Saturday.

Let me know your thoughts on the news from Celebration. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ghostbusters (2016) – Movie Review: Well, I Laughed

Sony really needs to think about firing the team who
marketed this movie.

Ghostbusters starring Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate
McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, and directed by Paul Feig. The reboot
to the 80’s classic tells the story of two scientist who wrote a book about paranormal
activity, but then went separate ways. One went the respectable route, Erin
played by Kristen Wiig. While the other, Abby, played by Mellissa McCarthy
continued to try and prove the existence of Ghosts. Fate brings them together once
again when they encounter a Ghost, and then must try to prove what they saw is
real. Does this sound similar to the original Ghostbusters? It doesn’t because
it isn’t. The film tells a new story with new characters and does a good job in
doing it.

The trailers for this movie had me worried. They seemed not to
tell an original story and looked to have many of the same beats from the original
movie. It looked like they had a library ghost scene. They used the same lines
from the first film. They showed the fire station the first team used as a base
in the first trailer. What this film actually does is tell a new story with new
characters. While it doesn’t work perfectly, it is entertaining and stands on
its own. I don’t understand why the marketing team who promoted this movie
decided to try and rely on nostalgia to drum up excitement. It backfired in a
most spectacular way. There is a fine line with not giving too much story away
in trailers and getting people excited to see the movie. They should have
relied more on the differences this movie had from the original instead of its

The characters are all new and different from the first
cast. Kristen Wiig does a good job in playing the straight laced up tight
scientist. She is funny in the film and most of her jokes hit. Mellissa McCarthy
does well with her role. Paul Feig seems to always get the best most reigned in
performances from McCarthy, and does so again in Ghostbusters. I loved Kate
Mckinnon’s crazy nut job scientist Holtzman, but she is going to be polarizing.
Either you are going to love what she does or hate it. I don’t think everything
she did worked, but most of it did. I was most worried with Leslie Jones in her
role, but she was funny, and wasn’t as over the top as she seemed to be in the
trailers. I do wish they would have made her some type of scientist. The show
stealer for me was Chris Hemsworth who played the receptionist for the new
business. He was fantastic. Every joke he had made me laugh.  He had great comedic timing.  I even liked what they did with him in the
third act of the film, but it was one of the only things story wise that stood
out in the end of the movie.

The story falls apart at the end of the film. The
motivations for the main villain are not explored enough to be clear, and the
ending feels rushed. There is also major chunks missing from the last part of
the movie. It is painfully obvious a major scene or two is missing from the
last third of the movie, but there is supposed to be a director’s cut of the
film. I’m not sure why they would have cut these scenes unless it would have
pushed the movie to R status.  I would be
surprised if what was cut would have pushed that particular barrier. I’m not
sure if adding a few of these scene back would have fixed the final part of the
movie, but I think it would have helped. I liked the setup the story was going
for in the first part of the film, but it goes off the rails at the end.

I did however enjoy many of the ghost fight scenes found in
the last part of the movie. Holtzman in particular has a fantastic fight and
all of the new toys she creates in the film get put to great use. I liked the
CG Ghost in the film. Many probably won’t, but I thought they looked great, and
where used well throughout the movie. The ghost fighting scenes are some of the
best parts of the film and this with most of the comedy made Ghostbusters a
treat to watch. It is far from a perfect film with the way they tell the story
and the constant cameos jammed in the movie. They could have done away with the
Bill Murry character and a few others and the movie would have been improved. I
get having the cameos, the characters created just don’t fit the tone of the
film, and they all stand out instead of fit into the movie.

This being said I liked the film. It was enjoyable and I
could see myself watching it again. I for one never hated the idea of a new
Ghostbusters movie. I did wish they would have made it connected to the
originals, but I was okay with a reboot. I was just happy to get more
Ghostbusters, which is something I had been wanting since the second film was
released. Nothing is going to ruin my enjoyment of the first two films. The
first is close to perfect, and I still really enjoy the second. So maybe it’s
not surprising that I enjoyed this one. I think the film is Worth Seeing, and
worth seeing multiple times. I know many don’t agree, but if you give it a
chance I think you can enjoy the new imaging.

Comment and let me know
what you thought of Ghostbusters if you saw it. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Star Wars Rebels Season 3 Clip & Daisy Ridley wraps Episode 8 Shooting.

The Star Wars show today dropped a juicy first look at the upcoming season of Rebels. It was a great clip and showed the crew of the Ghost rescuing Hondo and another prisoner from what looked to be a Imperial Prison of some sort. 

The biggest takeaway from this small clip is the look of Ezra. He looks like Kanan and has taken over leading the team. This of course leads to the question of where is Kanan and how Ezra is managing his anger we saw at the end of season two. Ezra in the clip easily dispatches some Stormtroopers with his blaster and then with his lightsaber. 

The small clip gets me extremely excited for season three. The finale was so well done last year I can't wait to see where the crew of the Ghost goes from there. Will Ezra fall to the dark side? How will Kanan deal with the loss of his eyesight? I was always reluctant to say Ezra would be the one to fall, but they certainty set it up this way in the season two finale. 

I wonder how much more information we will get for the upcoming season at Star Wars Celebration. I hope they don't release the entire episodes on Disney XD early and then wait until October to start releasing the other episodes. Keep the hype machine going and open the season strong in October and keep going after the premiere. 

The other small bit of news that dropped today is Daisy Ridly has wrapped up shooting on Episode Eight. Most of the crew had already finished shooting, with wrap parties going on last week. Daisy still had some scenes to shoot and apparently finished them up today. She announced it with a fantastic Instagram picture. 

It is just amazing to think there are two Star Wars movies finished with principle photography at the moment and in post production. There will be reshoots for Episode Eight, but at the moment the movie is done filming and is moving onto editing and adding the special effects. 

We are a year and half away from the release of the film. I am now really wishing they wouldn't have pushed back the release date to December.  It would have been great to see Rogue One in December and then follow it up a few months later with Episode Eight. 

It just means they have more time to make the film great. Again I wonder if we will get anything about Episode Eight at Star Wars Celebration. They may just release some footage for people there and nothing to the general public so they can continue hyping Rogue One. I'm hoping for the title, but I doubt we get it. 

Let me know what you thought of the clip for new Season of Rebels, and what news you think we may get at Celebration for Episode 8. 

When Should Kids Watch... Ghostbusters (Original)?? - Movie Review

Weren’t theme songs for movies in the 80’s just the best thing ever?

The 80’s classic Ghostbusters starring Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, and directed by Ivan Reitman. It has many great qualities. An interesting story, great effects for its time, fantastic characters, and a good comedic acting. It is one of the first movies I wanted to introduce to my kids because of how good the film is overall. When should you introduce kids to this classic film? While it is a comedy, it also can be scary and could cause some children to be frightened while watching.

There really isn’t bad language in the film. There might be one or two cuss words throughout, but nothing to prevent me from letting either of my children watch. The same can be said for the violence. There is violence in the film, but it is always directed at spiritual creatures. Any action throughout the movie always takes place when the team of misfit scientists are fighting ghosts. They never go up against other humans, well not ones who don’t also turn into dogs. There is also one minor sex scene with a ghost, but I never understood this scene until I was older, and most children won’t either.

The only drawback the movie has before letting kids watch is the scary concept. For me personally when I was a kid I was hardly ever able to make it past when Dana is floating above the bed. I would watch the film constantly on VHS up until that point, and then have to turn it off. It’s funny to think this was the scene which I couldn’t get past. It is just her floating above the bed, nothing more, and it totally freaked me out. The transformations of Dana and Louis into the terror dog creatures is also fairly scary. I can see kids who can become frightened easily being afraid to watch Ghostbusters.

The story is what draws everyone in. For kids the idea of a group of people going out and to capture ghosts is instantly intriguing. There is a whole reality television concept now around the idea. The pseudo-science they use in the film is fantastic, and the tools they use to catch ghosts are instantly things any kid would want to play with. Who doesn’t want their own proton pack? The story of the movie is also easy to follow. The Ghostbusters catch ghosts and there have been more sightings because of the coming of Gozer. We even get great expositions about what is going on because Peter never studied in school. Ray and Egon have to explain things to him so he understands. Which is great for him and us as the audience. Even if kids don’t understand all of the ins and outs of the story they can still just sit back and enjoy all of the action fighting the ghosts.

The special and practical effects in this movie still hold up remarkably well for a movie released over thirty years ago. Some of the scenes with the terror dogs stand out as not looking great now, but everything else still looks fantastic. The scene with Slimmer still looks great, and so does the scene in the Library. The Stay Puff Marshmallow man still holds up and causes just as much awe inspiring joy as it did when I was a kid. Can I now tell some of the scenes with him used miniatures? Yes, but it doesn’t take away from the movie. For a film made before the advent of massive CGI use it stands up extremely well to modern movies. Any kid who watches still can be mesmerized by all of the creatures and ghosts used in the film.

Ghostbusters simply resonates well with people of any age. It is the perfect mix of story, comedy, and action for kids to enjoy. The cool theme song doesn’t hurt the movie either. My twelve year old new the song way before he ever watched the movie, and now my four year old does as well. The movie was on television a few months back and we stopped to watch. My four year old became instantly engaged and we ended up watching the rest of the film, but I put in my DVD so we could skip past commercials. He didn’t get afraid and loved the entire movie.

Four is probably a little young, but he wasn’t afraid and didn’t have any nightmares so maybe it was okay. I think an appropriate age range for viewing the film is anywhere from four to seven depending on the kid. There are scary elements, but if the kid doesn’t scare easy there is no reason not to let them watch. I’m glad both of my boys have enjoyed the movie and will watch it with me whenever I want to put it on. Even though I’ve seen it countless times there is something about Ghostbusters that never gets old.

Let me know when you first remember seeing Ghostbusters. Did any part scare you? When would you let your kids watch Ghostbusters? Comment and let me know

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Lego Star Wars The Force Awakens Video Game Review: A Fun Time

Lego Star Wars The Force Awakens is the standard Lego video game, but the tried and true method shines for this adaptation. TT games also introduces a few new wrinkles from their standard format which enhance the standard parts of the game. The game follows the plot of the film, but adds the subtle lovable brick humor found in most of the Lego games. It pokes fun at Star wars, but in way that is reverent to the film franchise. The game is just an overall fun experience and is a welcome addition to the Star Wars universe.

The overall gameplay doesn’t change from other Lego games. You run around collect studs, shoot bad guys, solve puzzles, find hidden minikits, and unlock a plethora of characters. Each level in the game is immensely enjoyable and I am looking forward to going back and finding all of the collectables. The new addition to the game is shooting from cover during parts of a mission. It has a Gears of War type cover and fire system (Yes I did just compare Gears of War and a Lego game), and each time the event happened in the level I wanted to play more of it. The regular Lego game play is fun, but it is nice they are adding different concepts into the game. This didn’t feel out of place, and added to the overall experience of playing.

Ship flying was the other new standout for the game. There have been flying missions in other Star Wars Lego Games but none as fun as these levels. They were spaced out perfectly for the game. They expand upon the fights found in the film, and do so in a fun fashion. There are also races within the levels which are fun to find and compete in. Nothing is too challenging if you have kids who want to play along with you. My four year old helped me through many of the levels, and did fine with most of the game play, even the flying missions. I did switch to the inverse flight controls, and wish this setting was permanent other than having to switch during level. It is probably a global setting I need to switch, but haven’t taken the time to look yet.

There are also hidden levels to unlock, which expand upon the backstory of the film. None of the adventures are official Star Wars Cannon, but I’m going to enjoy playing the level where Han captures the Rathtar and many others. The unlockables are what make the game fun to go back through and play again. I am a nut about collecting all of the minikits, red bricks, and unlocking all of the characters. I need to make sure the game is at 100%. I’ve done it with almost every Lego game I have played. The ones I haven’t managed to yet still make me want to go back and finish. It is one of the great concepts of all of the Lego games which keeps the replay value high. I have to figure out where all of those things are, and usually have to play through a couple of times to get them all.

The other big surprise for the game is they got Harrison Ford to do the voice over work. I can’t imagine him doing this ten years ago when the original Star Wars games were coming out. Along with the main cast the other voice acting is great, and adds fantastic humor to the game. I laughed out loud on numerous occasions with the little side conversations going on in the background. There was one in particular with a couple of Stormtroopers about target practice which got me laughing fairly hard. When they first started adding voices to the Lego games I thought it might hinder some of their comedy, but it really hasn’t, and they were spot on in this game.

Some of the Lego games have hard puzzles to figure out, but I didn’t find any in this game to be difficult. It’s another reason why this one is great for the younger kids who enjoy playing the games. I know my youngest probably wouldn’t have been able to get through Lego Indiana Jones, some of those puzzles gave me a hard time. I don’t really have any complaints for this game. It gave me everything I wanted from it, and will continue to give me more with the replays of the game. I even splurged for the add on pack which I never do, but glad I did for this one. There wasn’t any part of the game which caused me frustration. This isn’t to say all the puzzles were easy. They still make you think a few times as to how to get around a situation.

Lego Star Wars The Force Awakens is just a fun all-around game. If you are a fan of other Lego games this is a must own. If you are a Star Wars and have a console you should at least play it. I think the game has enough to even sway people who haven’t previously been fans of Lego games, but that is probably stretching it. If you have played Lego Star Wars let me know what you think. What percentage of completion are you on now? 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Streaming Spotlight: Defending Your Life - Movie Review

So I’m convinced the founder of Chipotle came back from Judgment City with the idea for his restaurant.

Defending Your Life starring Meryl Streep, Rip Torn, and Albert Brooks who also wrote and directed the film. The 1991 movie tells the story of Daniel Miller who dies in a car crash and wakes up in Judgment City. Judgment City is a stopping point where lives are put on a pseudo trial. If the person has lived a life facing fear and conquering it they can advance to another plane of existence. If they failed this test then they get to go back to Earth and try again.

Honestly I’m not sure how Albert Brooks got this film green lit. It has a completely unique look at life after death, merging some Eastern ideals with Western ones. Brook’s character, Daniel, lead a fairly normal North American white male life. He had a job, but wanted more money from it. He had a wife and had been divorced. He was also a bit of a klutz, which might be part of the reason why I loved this movie so much when I was younger, because I’m a huge klutz as well. It’s a little weird that I found myself watching this film every single time it came on HBO when I was a kid. I would have been eleven when it made it to the paid channel, and I can’t imagine my eleven year old liking this film. Maybe it was the love story and the chemistry Meryl Streep and Brooks have that always kept me engaged.

At the core of the film and its strange setting is its love story. Streep plays Julia, who unlike Daniel has lead a life unquestioningly facing her fears. There is never really a doubt about her moving on or going back to Earth. She is going to go forward. She had a great life and is ready for the next test. She seems to have everything together, but is instantly drawn to Daniel. Watching it again I still bought into their love story, but the two characters are opposites. It goes to just how strong the acting, writing, and directing is for the film that we never really question how these two very different people can fall so quickly in love.

The setting might have also helped with the believability of the love story. Judgment City feels like a convention town. The people with their life on trial can go anywhere in the city and get amazing food quickly. They just ask and it is immediately available and is prepared perfectly. There are no repercussions on what you can eat. You will never gain any weight, because well you’re dead. There are touristy things to do around the city, like the past live pavilion. The individuals who are defending their life can view the people they have been in previous lives. It is one of the best scenes in the film, and has always stuck out to me when remembering watching it. It still holds up and I chuckled through the scene again while watching it.

Everything is so seamless in the film, and you buy into the world Brooks creates without much question. This is helped along with the actual full time residents of Judgment City. The defenders and prosecutors who try each life also serve as a de facto guide for the people who have died. They explain what they will be doing and why the process is the way it is. It is a great way for the film to give the audience and the character an exposition dump and clear up some sticky points about certain issues with the process. Where are the kids Daniel asks? Which his defender, played by the great Rip Torn, responds when a child dies they just move on. How many chances do you get to go back? No clear answer is given, but there is a limit, and then a soul is just retired. There is no hell in this afterlife scenario and the only segment of people not mentioned are violent criminals. Watching it when I was younger I didn’t notice this, and now it is easy to assume those souls just get retired and don’t get to exist anymore. 

I have a soft spot in my heart for this film. It is one that has stuck with me because of the great concept and love story in movie. If you haven’t seen it you can watch it on Netflix right now. I think any generation can enjoy the film even if the décor is very late 80’s early 90’s.  It even has a mini-mall joke which is dated, but still funny. I would say this film is well Worth Seeing simply for its unique take on life after death. Give it a watch if you have never seen it.

If you have seen Defending Your Life did you like it? When was the last time you watched it, and does it still stick out in your mind? Does it sound interesting if you have never heard of the film before? Comment and let me know. 

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates - Movie Review: Waste of Time

At least all of the actors and hopefully crew got a bit of a paid vacation.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates starring Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick, Adam Devine, Aubrey Plaza and directed by Jake Szymanski. The movie tells the story of two screw up brothers who need dates for their sister’s wedding. Their family thinks if they can get the boys to bring nice girls to the wedding it will calm their antics down. Thus begins the hunt for two nice girls. They end up finding Anna Kendrick’s and Aubrey Plaza’s characters who pretend to be nice clean cut girls to get a free trip to Hawaii. Seem farfetched? Yep it does, but I thought the trailers looked funny and decided to give the film a chance.

Too bad all of the funny moments were wasted in the trailers. I laughed out loud a total of two times during the film. When the moments from the trailer play in the movie I didn’t even crack a smile. Within the context of the film these scenes were not funny. It could be because I had seen the trailers so many times that these moments lost their luster. When a comedy fails to make you laugh that is a major problem for the movie. I just couldn’t get into the goofy story being told, and I never truly believed any of the actors were the screw-ups they were portraying.

The actors didn’t do bad jobs with their roles.  It is just the story they were put into. Anna Kendrick stands out the most. We are meant to believe she is a screw up bad girl, but at the same time getting over a certain life event. They seem to want us to believe she is the normal Anna Kendrick character, but also a bad girl. The mesh just doesn’t work. I could never buy into her being the bad girl. I think Anna Kendrick could pull off this type of role, but they only went half way with her character in this film. I think it would have been better to let her play the Aubrey Plaza character in a complete role reversal from the characters she usually plays. They do the same thing with the Zac Efron character. He is the more down to earth of the two brothers. Which I guess the writers felt the script needed, but then when the wacky plot happens you don’t understand why the down to earth characters act the way they do.

There are also characters that just don’t need to be in the film. Alice Wetterlund is a total waste in the movie. None of her jokes hit, and the character adds nothing to the story or comedy. She is a good actress and again I don’t think it is her fault. The writing for the character is just bad. When she enters the film it jars to a stop. Maybe they cut many of her scenes from the final version of the film. They either should have put more back in to give her character more context or left her out completely. Mary Holland plays the maid of honor, and I actually wanted more of her character. She gets lost in the shuffle and I feel she could have actually added something more to the story.

This film just didn’t have enough of a story to keep you engaged in the comedy. The movie should have embraced the complete ridiculousness of the characters and not tried to shoehorn in a standard love story. This or they should have spent more time developing a better story to be more invested in the characters. The best comedies either have great characters or story, without either the film falters. These characters and story overall were generic and didn’t offer anything to be invested in. The pacing is also slow. I kept looking at my watch wondering when the film was going to be over. One other nitpick was the audio in the movie seemed to be off. I felt they should have had some more ADR for some scenes, because there were parts that the audio was really quite. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates just isn’t a good movie.

When I first saw the trailers for this movie they got me excited. I like the entire cast and was hoping this film could be a surprise summer comedy like Neighbors was a few summers ago. Sadly the generic story and mashup of characters leave this one as a total dude. I can’t recommend seeing this film at all. I wouldn’t even recommend stopping to watch it on a cable channel. It is not worth your time and is Not Worth Seeing. I almost got up and walked out of the theater, but since I got to see a free early screening of the film I stuck it out.

Let me know if you are going to take a chance and see this film. If you have seen it what did you think, did you think it was as bad as me? Comment and let me know. Let me know a comedy you went into and were pleasantly surprised by

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Star Wars Comics Review/Recap: Han Solo #2 and Poe Dameron #4

This week in Star Wars comics we have our fill of charming rogue pilots in Han Solo and Poe Dameron. Both issues this week were enjoyable reads and leave you wanting to know what happens next.

The second issue of Han Solo picks up with the Falcon and the other pilots in the Dragon Void Race having to escape a mine field setup by the race designers. While I didn’t necessarily enjoy the setup in the first issue of Han Solo, everything was great in the second installment. I was interested to see how the race would unfold along with the secret mission Han and Chewie were undertaking for the Rebellion. The race portion of the issue did not disappoint. I enjoyed the inner monologue from Han and how he figured out a way through the mine field. The entire issue showcased everything there is to love in the rogue smuggler. His unique since of morality is on full display.

The writing for the comic feels like Star Wars. Marjorie Liu nails Han Solo and the banter he has with Chewie is spot on. The side characters created feel natural to Star Wars and I want to know more about the other pilots created for the race. The art is also great for the comic. I never got lost following the action in the issue. I love the cover for this issue, and the art for the rest of the comic doesn’t disappoint. While I may have not liked where the team started the comic, they have hit a definite stride in the second issue. I am excited to see what happens in the next episode with the Empire coming down to arrest Han and the rest of the pilots of the race.

I have a feeling the people of the planet are going to revolt unless the pilots can continue the race. They helped Chewie escape the bar with the Rebel informant, and they will probably riot unless the race is allowed to continue. I want to know why the Empire decided to arrest all of the pilots. Do they know anything about the Rebel Mission? This is before Han is known to the Empire so they don’t know who he is. The story is intriguing and the first two issues of this comic have me hooked for what happens next.

The other release of the week is Poe Dameron #4. I have yet to be impressed with the writing or story told up until this point. I’m still not sold on some of the writing, but the story is more engaging than a giant egg being protected by religious nuts. The issue starts out with Poe being harassed by Hutts without any context. We flashback to the Resistance base after Black Squadron finished its last mission and waiting for Poe to tell them what to do next.

The interactions with all of the pilots and dialogue between them is still not ringing true to me. It seems like the author is trying to write Star Wars instead of it being natural within the universe. I like getting to know more of the pilots in Black Squadron, and like seeing why Poe is the leader of the team. The one interaction I liked was with Poe and L’ulo. It showed why Poe is the leader of Black Squadron over the older pilot. I also like that the author tied this issue back to when L’ulo was introduced in Shattered Empire.

The other pilot interactions seem forced. I know they are trying to develop the characters and build up the squadron of pilots. I’m just not interested in any of them yet. The scenes between the crew just didn’t flow well in the comic. The story is trying to spoon feed us these characters instead of naturally developing within the story. I would have rather seen the pilots in action, instead of in locker room setting. Though they tried to do develop them this way in the last issue and it didn’t flow well there either by shoving in a random love story element out of nowhere.

The rest of the comic sets up the second adventure and was very well done. I like the story and where it is going. Being trapped on a prison world with the only way to escape and get the information needed is to break out a Hutt Gangster. The team also has to go up against the First Order agent they faced from the first mission. I didn’t dislike Agent Terex when he was introduced, but I wasn’t sold on him either. This new adventure at the prison seems more interesting. Terex isn’t in control of the situation either and it will be interesting to see how both sides compete to get the Hutt out of the prison if they can.

I’m glad the Poe comic is picking up and glad the story seems more like a normal Star Wars adventure. The Han Solo comic looks to be a fantastic short series on par with Lando which has been my favorite so far. Let’s hope both comics continue on their current track.

Have you read either comic? Have you been letdown by the Poe comic up until this point, but like this issue? Did you like the Han comic? Comment and let me know.