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Hate movie spoilers? Good! You'll get straight to the point, quick, and spoiler-free movie reviews to help you spend your time and money wisely on movies. I'll give you the Good, the Bad, the Reason, and the Rating about each movie. ***Please disable any popup blockers***

Friday, July 14, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review


The Trailer:

Video Review:

The Good:
I really appreciated the introduction of this movie starting off with a very quick and efficient recap of the past two movies. If you only vaguely remembered the previous Apes films, that recap gave you just enough information to get you all caught up.

Probably one of the greatest strengths of this film are its characters and their development. The most amazing thing about this movie is that you will become invested in almost every single character (ape or human). Even the deaths in this film will feel meaningful. Not only that, but the characters are not one-dimensional. There are very few characters that are bad just to be bad, for example. They're all complex and so are their motivations.

I loved how the characters and the plot were not entirely predictable either. Certain characters will appear to be motivated to do something, but then end up doing the complete opposite of what you may expect. Their motivations really drive the story, and keep the characters from being stale or boring. Don't be surprised if you have a difficult time in trying to choose a side to root for or support.

One character you'll have no problem supporting is "Bad Ape". He was most definitely the much needed comic relief in the film. I really appreciated how they didn't overdo his character by forcing him to be too funny.

Director Matt Reeves should certainly be deserving of some praise for this film. (Dare I say he needs award consideration too!) I never paid a lot of attention to a movie's musical score until I heard a bad one in All Eyez On Me. (TuPac's death scene with the random gospel song.) That's when I realized how the musical selection can potentially captivate or detach you from the emotional impact of a scene. This film played just the right songs to match the intensity of battle, or drama of an emotional moment. Besides the score, there are some really great scenes that are captured through some excellent cinematography.

While the majority of this film and characters are mainly CGI, Andy Serkis needs to be recognized here. He used facial capturing technology to play Caesar, and he delivered a spectacular performance with what I like to call "Facial acting". (Facial acting is when someone can perform and convey ideas with just their facial expressions.) Without even using many words, you knew and connected with almost every single one of Caesar's emotions and inner thoughts. I'd be disappointed if Serkis didn't get some award recognition during award season.

As far as the story goes, it was probably one of the most dramatic and emotionally driven tales of all the Ape movies to date. It touched on so many themes that explored the impact of war, survival, oppression, and revolution.

The Bad:
The length of this film, which is almost 2.5 hours long, is kind of tricky. There were a couple of slow moving parts in the film that probably could've been skipped. I think there are just a few large gaps between the intense-action scenes, which may make the film feel like it's dragging a little bit.

I think part of the issue with the slow pacing has to do with the fact that this movie is not the action-packed, war film the trailer makes it out to be.  War For the Planet of the Apes is like 80% drama and only 20% of actual fighting. (The last battle is certainly the best one.)  Similar to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (the 2nd Apes movie), there just wasn't as much action as the trailer may have portrayed. So expectations will have to temper down a bit if you were expecting a lot of fighting.

Maybe this is nitpicking, but I could've sworn I noticed some apes hearing sign language. (Yes, you read that correctly.) For example, there's a scene where an ape is using sign language behind Caesar (and Caesar isn't looking at him), but yet Caesar acts like he knows what was said. This is probably easy to miss if you’re too busy reading the subtitles.

The Reason:
I must admit, I was really impressed with this movie. I was a fan of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2011), but not so much of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2014). War for the Planet of the Apes, however, is by far the best of the entire trilogy. This is probably one of the best emotionally driven films of the summer. (Maybe even the year thus far.)

This movie was so good that it made me start second guessing myself when I thought of the apes in the film. Like I started becoming more politically correct about what I thought about them. Saying "Oh, they're acting more human" just started to feel wrong or discriminatory. By the end of the movie I was saying to myself #AllApesMatter! (You may now commence judging me.)

This movie will be presented in 3D, but I don't think that it's necessary. There really wasn't anything in the film that popped out at you that really required it to be viewed in 3D. However, I would say that War for the Planet of the Apes is still a must watch. If a movie can grip your emotions, whether that be to hate certain characters or sympathize with others, then it has accomplished its goal. This movie achieves that and doesn't monkey around! (I welcome your tomatoes!)

The Rating: 9/10
My [Loosely based] Ratings scale
10-9 = A Must watch at any cost. 
8.5- 7.5 = Theater worthy 
7-6.5 = Matinee/rental worthy at best
6 = Watchable (If it's free)
5 - below = Avoid at all costs

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

The Trailer:

Video Review


The Good:
As with any Michael Bay film we know that this movie would be nothing short of a lot of action and explosions. There were a number of chase scenes that included some great special effects, and to top it off the 3D visuals were really nice too. Throughout the film you'll notice some great scenes that literally pop out at you.

Probably the best part of this film will be the last 20 mins or so, when the Transformers are actually fighting one another. This time around we get to see some cool new weapons and some new transformers as well. My personal favorite was probably Anthony Hopkin's butler transformer. He had a number of humorous moments in the film.

Oh and while Megan Fox wasn't in this film, shout out to Director Michael Bay for having Laura Haddock look like her long lost twin.

The Bad
:

*Sigh*
I'm not really sure where to being. Oh I know. How about the fact that this Transformers movie, yet again, wasn't even about the Transformers. Instead this was a Mark Wahlberg movie. Optimus Prime shows up early in the beginning, and we don't see him again until maybe the last 35 mins of the film. I should also mention that this movie is about 2.5 hours long (and you will feel every pain staking minute of it.) The Transformers in this film were basically reduced to being supporting characters in their own movie. While they would have some lines here or there, they were pretty much background characters until the very end of the movie where the battle ensues.

Propelling Mark Walberg and the plight of the human race was probably one of the weakest story lines this movie could take on. Even some of the most fearsome Transformers were turned into mere pets. The story just comes off to be so unrealistic that it just stops being a "fun movie" anymore.

As a matter of fact, this movie was constantly trying to be funny. It was like watching a bad comedian on stage bomb joke, after joke, after 2.5 hour long bad joke. (This movie was so long.) -_-
Almost every character goes out of their way to say or do something ridiculously cheesy and corny that it's not even funny to laugh at how corny and cheesy they're being. The sadder part is that they actually got a comedian in Jerrod Carmichael to star in the movie, and even he wasn't remotely funny.

The story itself was a complete mess. While the premise of the movie was pretty simple (Bad Transformers want to destroy our world), the various subplots felt erratic and jumbled. The film keeps jumping from one scene to another, trying to tell one subplot only to jump to another. At some point you simply just stop caring.

At no point did I really care about the new villain. At no point was Optimus Prime's reprogramming even believable. And for those of you who hated that Martha moment in Batman v Superman, get ready for an equally bad moment like that in this film.

The saddest part about this movie is that we still really don't learn that much about the Transformers or their home world. This was a perfect opportunity for us to focus on more of the Transformers lore, but instead it was squandered for whatever the hell we saw in this film.

The Reason:
You know, I don't know why I do this sometimes. Maybe I'm a sucker for punishment. I thought I would've learned my lesson with the last Transformers movies. The writing was TERRIBLE. The Story was overly simplistic, uninteresting and all over the place. The characters SUCKED.

I can't recall ever seeing a movie that was so action packed that it also bored me at the same time. I want my money back. (I don't care if I saw it for free) The sad reality is that some people are still going to watch this and actually think this movie was good. In my opinion, the only way to really enjoy this film is to turn your brain completely off. Don't try to make sense of things. Just sit back and watch the shiny things explode and flick on the screen.

If you think you really have to watch this movie because you've been so invested in the previous four movies, don't feel pressured to see this. You can wait it out. Honestly, you'd probably be better off watching this when it comes on cable, or just reading the wiki for this movie instead. If you want to still go watch it that's fine. Everyone has a different tolerance level for certain films. Everyone's entitled to their opinion, and mine is that they simply need to stop making these films.

The Rating: 5/10
My [Loosely based] Ratings scale
10-9 = A Must watch at any cost. 
8.5- 7.5 = Theater worthy 
7-6.5 = Matinee/rental worthy at best
6 = Watchable (If it's free)
5 - below = Avoid at all costs
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Friday, June 16, 2017

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

The Trailer:

Video Review:

The Good:
Well let's start with the obvious first. Demetrius Shipp Jr. really does look like Tupac. He definitely shines in various moments of the film. He was able to capture Tupac's charm, wit, and exuberance. His best moments will probably be the times when he expresses Tupac's deepest thoughts and displaying Tupac's overall growth.

There are a number of other actors that deserve some recognition too. Danai Gurira (played Afeni Shakur) certainly did a wonderful job of portraying Tupac's mother. While she didn't necessarily overtake the film, she most definitely made a significant impact whenever she was on screen. You could easily see how much of an influence her character made on Tupac through Gurira's performance. Both Gurira and Shipp shared pretty good on-screen chemistry that really sold the mother/son relationship. Other supporting characters contributed positively too. Kat Graham did a nice job of playing Jada Pinkett. Those haircuts really helped sell the look too. Dominic Santana also delivered a solid performance at portraying the very intimidating Suge Knight.

It goes without saying that the musical component to this film is also something to look forward to. There's an assortment of Tupac's most famous songs, so that will be sure to at least entertain audiences. As far as the story itself, it there was an intentional effort to elevate the young rapper in a positive light.

The Bad:
Remember Demetrius Shipp Jr and how he had various moments to shine? Well there were other moments where he simply didn't. I can't fault him too much only because he's never acted before this. However, I do place some blame on Director Benny Boom. No disrespect to him, but he was simply not a good fit to direct this movie. With an inexperienced actor like Shipp Jr., you need a more experienced director to help make up for the Tupac actor's weaknesses. There were just a number of scenes throughout the film that felt like the director should've said "CUT! Nope. Not gonna work. Do that again!".

Another issue was the decision made with Snoop Dogg. Rather than casting another look-a-like for the minor role, or at least someone who sounded like Snoop, they opted to do a voice-over instead. It IMMEDIATELY cheapened the entire production quality of the film. It's hard to say whether it was left to be intentionally funny or not, but at that rate they would've just been better off casting the real life Snoop Dogg himself.

For those who have known Tupac through the media and his music, one thing that you'll probably know is that Tupac always kept it real. That means whether it was good or bad, what you saw from him was authentic. This movie in my opinion tried too hard to be safe about the controversial figure. It just didn't come off as the raw Tupac people started to either love or hate. As a result, it was difficult to really capture the full complexity that made the iconic rapper so captivating to both his fans and his opponents. While the movie did try to touch on the various issues and beefs the rapper encountered, it really didn't dig deep into them either. I mean we don't even see Puffy at all. We never see that real Tupac spitting in the camera of the media. The story just felt way too safe.

One of the biggest things I wanted this film to tackle was Tupac's death. (Spoiler Alert) I wanted to see if it would captivate me into the flood of emotions similar to the way Straight Outta Compton did for Easy E. In my opinion, this film slightly missed the mark. Maybe it was the gospel song selection that played in the background, or something else.  Either way, Tupac's death scene just didn't hit as deep as I would've hoped.

The Reason:
Okay, I know what you're going to ask. "Was this better than Notorious?" "Was it as good as Straight Out of Compton?" "Should this have been a Lifetime movie instead?" Well, to me, the Notorious movie was forgettable minus the fact that we acknowledged that Jamal Woolard did a nice job playing Biggie. All Eyez On Me was not "trash" or on the level of a Lifetime or BET movie. However, let's take a moment and be real for a second. A "Tupac movie" SHOULD be equal or better than Straight Outta Compton...and this doesn't come close to that.

The biggest threat to this movie is the expectations that will come along with the musical icon that is Tupac. In other words, if you're going to do a Tupac movie, that movie better live up to be just as great as Tupac himself. Unfortunately, with such expectations, almost any attempt would set this movie up for some level of disappointment.

It's difficult to say whether or not this movie should be seen in theaters or not. On one hand, if you're a Tupac fan, you've been waiting for this for decades. On the other hand you've got the issue of simply supporting movies that portray and are created in accordance to your social group's perspective. Because without any support, the film industry simply relies on the idea that there's no need to make these types of movies.

So when it comes to my recommendation, I will only resort to saying that this movie is watchable. (Take that however you wish.) I'm not going to tell you to pay full price, see it as a matinee, or even for free at home. It's watchable in the sense that while it has some highs, it definitely also has some lows too. I don't think that it lives up to the hype it should have, but the reality is that some people are still going to be entertained by this movie. I fully admit that I didn't grow up listening to Tupac, so you could say I'm just a casual fan of his work. I will say however, that if you were unfamiliar with him, one thing that this movie may do is inspire you to go out and learn more about him. Listen to his interviews, and the lyrics of his music. While All Eyez On Me may not have lived up to his elite status, the film certainly doesn't take anything away from Tupac's legacy either.

The Rating: 6.5/10
My [Loosely based] Ratings scale
10-9 = A Must watch at any cost. 
8.5- 7.5 = Theater worthy 
7-6.5 = Matinee/rental worthy at best
6 = Watchable (If it's free)
5 - below = Avoid at all costs
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Friday, June 9, 2017

The Mummy (2017) Movie Review

The Trailer:
Video Review

The Good:
From the very beginning of the film, it definitely isn't shy about setting the tone for the amount of action that will be on display. Most of the action scenes look very similar to some of Tom Cruise's Mission Impossible films. There were plenty of explosions, and chases, and of course Tom Cruise running. (Man, does he love to run.)

Besides the action, it was really interesting to see how this film was able to tap into its horror roots, so to speak. There were plenty of jump scares and "Zummies" (zombie mummies) to help create some really tense moments in the movie. I think they did a pretty decent job with the CGI effects for the most part. To top all of that off, there were some humorous moments of comic relief that may get a bit of a chuckle out of you here or there.

I think that without question one of the biggest highlights of this movie was Sofia Boutella who plays the Mummy. She was simply captivating every time she was on the screen. Dare I say, she was more intriguing to watch than Tom Cruise's character for the most part too. She was able to carry a sense of terror and beauty simultaneously.

The Bad:
*grabs some coffee & a Tylenol*
This movie tried to do way too much all at the same time. While it did have a mixture of action, horror and comedy it simply didn't blend well. (It reminds me of when you're trying to make a healthy shake without all the ingredients mixing well. Then when you drink it, there are lumps and chunks of random things you can no longer identify.) There were just one too many cheesy one-liners from Cruise in my opinion. Rather than allowing someone like Jake Johnson's character to shoulder the comedic relief, I think it was a misstep to have Cruise take that on as well.

Unfortunately, I can't go into detail, but I am not a fan of what they did with Tom Cruise's character. The way they end the movie, in my opinion, feels like the wrong direction if this will truly be a new "monster universe" film franchise for the studio. Cruise's character is left to make a decision by the end of the film, and I just don't think it made a lot of sense. Honestly, it was just really impractical and unbelievable. One of the reasons why is because of the forced and unrealistic relationship between Cruise and Annabelle Wallis' character ("Jenny Halsey"). Both of their characters have a rushed and unauthentic relationship that doesn't help make any sense of the actions taken later on in the movie.

I suppose it was also bit disappointing in regards to the lack of originality in this film. As I mentioned before, some of the action scenes looked really familiar to Tom Cruise's past films. In addition to that, there's a scene of the mummy that looked almost too familiar to the latest Power Rangers movie and Rita Repulsa's character coming to life. To make matters worse, the film's marketing probably didn't help with the spoilery trailers. They revealed, I think, too much with Russell Crowe's character. Even when we finally do see Crowe, his character is a bit underwhelming. They could've left his character as a shadowy figure that operated behind the scenes. Otherwise, some of his scenes could've been deleted and the movie wouldn't have skipped a beat.

The Reason:
The movie studio is clearly trying to use The Mummy as a setup movie for their future "monster universe" films where they will be introducing more characters. (ie: Wolfman, Invisible Man, etc)  It's really hard to see what direction this franchise is about to take. I can't tell if it wants to be something like Hellboy, Suicide Squad, or random monster movies in general. Given what we saw in The Mummy, I'm not all that excited to see what happens next. The story and the easter eggs just felt like they were all over the place and overexerting themselves to promote future films.

Unfortunately, I don't think that The Mummy will live up to the hype or expectation of a typical Tom Cruise movie, nor to the success of the the past Mummy films in the late 90's or early 2000s. While on paper this should be a solid home-run film, I think it's more a bunt play. (Whether they make it safe to 1st base will be your call.) If you're interested in the potential universe they are trying to create, then you obviously will have to watch this movie.

Oh and the 3D was simply not present enough to warrant seeing it that format. You get a few scenes here or there that pop out at you, but afterwards you forget you're watching a 3D movie. I think this movie is something you watch when your local theater is having a discount showing or matinee. At that point you can probably enjoy it a bit more. I think some people may still enjoy this film and ignore its many flaws, so I would just say go in with low expectations, avoid the trailers, and pass on the 3D. If you do that, you'll probably enjoy the film for what it's worth.

The Rating: 6.5/10

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My [Loosely based] Ratings scale
10-9 = A Must watch at any cost. 
8.5- 7.5 = Theater worthy 
7-6.5 = Matinee/rental worthy at best
6 = Watchable (If it's free)
5 - below = Avoid at all costs

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Wonder Woman Movie Review

The Trailer:

Video Review (Spoiler-Free)

The Good:
First and foremost, if there were any doubts about whether Gal Gadot could carry a movie, she certainly should put those concerns to rest. She did a wonderful 😉 job of portraying the iconic super heroine throughout the movie. You get to see Wonder Woman's emotional growth and maturity through Gal's performance. What I really enjoyed about this movie was the fact that we finally got a DCEU movie where the character is developed and relatable in a proper way. We get to see the certain events and situations that shape her mindset and her motivations that mold her into the hero that we've all known her to be.

I personally liked the mythological background of Wonder Woman's story. As with most superhero movies, it was fun to see the different Amazonian culture, her fight training, and Wonder Woman's discovery of her powers. It was interesting to see how her background influenced aspects of her character such as her sense of duty and morality.

The movie's got some solid action scenes that will probably remind you of the film "300" almost immediately. (It's really hard not to see Zack Snyder's influence all over this movie.) Unlike in Man of Steel with the blurry and hard to follow action scenes, Wonder Woman utilizes slow motion fight scenes that were much more pleasing to the eye.

As far as the story or plot, I appreciated the fact that it was rather straight forward in regards to the origin story. We do get a surprising twist, and there are nice humorous moments that keep this movie from going too dark. Wonder Woman's social interactions are probably one of the funnier moments, especially when she interacts with Steve Trevor (played by Chris Pine). Speaking of which, Pine also does a pretty good job with his character who was surprisingly better than I expected.

The Bad
:


Maybe it's because I've seen a ton of comic book movies before, but the origin story does seem a little redundant. You may see some very familiar situations through her discovery of powers similar to other superheroes we've seen in films. (i.e. Spider Man, Super Man, etc.) So unfortunately this kind of made a lot of the movie a tad bit predictable. The pacing in some parts also kind of drag a bit in my opinion. Personally I would've simply wanted more time spent showing her on the Amazonian island rather than the outside world. I just think that there was a bit more to explore and learn about their culture rather than speeding up to the events of the outside world.

Another issue is probably the main villain of the movie. I can't go into too much detail about the villain without ruining things so I'll just say that I would've really preferred a different actor for the role. While the build up to the final showdown certainly was executed effectively, the actual fight itself was a bit lackluster. At one point I felt like I was watching an X-Men movie from 2006 or something. The fighting itself was a bit disappointing when you compare it to the cooler fight scenes earlier in the film. Don't get me wrong, it gets the job done at the end of the day, but the way the battle ends didn't leave me wow'd.

The Reason
:


I think there are couple of things to consider with this film. The first thing is that this movie was a bit cookie cutter in terms of a superhero movie. I'd probably venture to say that this was not intended to impress comic book movie fans. Instead, I think this movie is geared towards people who probably are new to superhero movies and at least have heard of Wonder Woman in general.

The other consideration is that this movie is clearly appealing to a more female demographic of all ages. That doesn't mean men can't enjoy the film. I think it's just a matter of what this movie and the character of Wonder Woman represents. She was created to be a symbol of female empowerment and a feminist (in terms of gender equality.) One thing that I realized is that there are going to probably be certain scenes in this film that will intentionally resonate with women more than it may with some men on average. I noticed this in my own screening where some women applauded and cheered during those certain scenes.

At the end of the day, whether you like this movie or not, one thing that cannot be denied is that Wonder Woman will carry an intangible quality that will resonate with fans one way or another. This movie will be a dream come true for some. It may empower others. Either way, I think it's safe to say that this is the best DCEU movie to date. As a matter of fact, Wonder Woman is what "Man of Steel" (Review) should've been. Her character is much more relatable and developed than the current Superman we have now.  If I had to compare, this movie is easily Captain America: First Avenger + Thor + Man of Steel. It's absolutely worth watching in theaters.

The Rating: 8.0/10
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My [Loosely based] Ratings scale
10-9 = A Must watch at any cost. 
8.5- 7.5 = Theater worthy 
7-6.5 = Matinee/rental worthy at best
6 = Watchable (If it's free)
5 - below = Avoid at all costs

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