Tag Archives: movies

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the BeastI’m at Walt Disney World this week for one of the runDisney events. I’ve been trying to write this review for about a week now, but it’s hard when you’re feeling so wishy-washy about a movie. I thought being at WDW would make me feel more warmly toward B&tB, but…

Spoiler Alert – you’ve been warned.

Overall reaction: Meh. It’s one of those movies that so perfectly made that all the life was sucked out of it. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with any of it – the acting, the music, the choreography – all perfect, but there was nothing extra special, nothing to blow me away. I did see the animated feature when it first came out and it made me want to stand up and sing. This one didn’t even though I still can’t really find a flaw with any particular piece of it.

My one real gripe is Gaston. He’s supposed to be “roughly the size of a barge.” Luke Evans – not so much. With all the CGI happening, they couldn’t give Luke a couple of extra muscles? I’m not saying he can’t act or sing, but his intimidation factor was sub-bottom.

The extra touches were nice, especially the scene in Paris with Belle’s mother. Kevin Kline was hardly recognizable as Maurice (not that any of the supporting characters were recognizable until the end – but Maurice was human and stayed that way).

The yellow dress, however, was glorious! Kudos to the costume department. They really outdid themselves with the gown and the jewelry.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The Last JediI’ve been trying to keep up with Star Wars: Celebration. It’s hard knowing the con is so close and yet, I still couldn’t make it down there this year. Next year, I’m going to try again.

Spoilers for the trailer and some speculation.

The trailer. I’ve watched it and I’m still absorbing. Rey is manipulating the Force? Using a lightsaber – awesome! Is that Leia’s silhouette she see? Finn is still unconscious, poor guy, but not to worry – Poe is racing to pull him out of danger – YES, HE IS DO NOT DENY IT! And, Luke – my man Luke. You are NOT the last Jedi. You can’t be. Look, I know there are issues with The Force Awakens. I’ve tried my hardest to separate my love for the new characters (Rey, Finn, & Poe) with my disappointment in how they ended the relationships of the original trinity, but if Luke is the end of the Jedi, if the writers can’t promise us the Jedi will endure through Rey, then what was the whole point of Star Wars? I want more Jedi, I want Rey to lead them. I want at least Luke to survive, to remember, pass along the history of the original movies. At least give me that much, please.

I have a bad feeling though. My gut is telling me Luke is going to go the way of Obi-Wan. He’s going to battle Kylo, and then lift his saber while Rey watches and let Kylo cut him down. His force ghost will then continue to guide Rey through Ep IX.

Hidden Figures

Hidden FiguresI did see this opening weekend, but I’ve been so caught up with preparing for Coastal Magic Con that, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and really process what this movie is about. Story wise, this is one of the most perfect movies I’ve seen in a long time. Everything fit just right. It’s both inspiring and demoralizing at the same time. It’s about Math and Space, but it’s also about Privilege and what women of color had to endure to get white men into space. You don’t walk away from this movie without thinking of Katherine Johnson calculating all of those launching and landing, but also having to run a half mile just to get to the “colored” bathroom in the rain. The math alone made me dizzy with pride watching her show all those men how to get the math done to get John Glenn into space. John Glenn even says flat out, he won’t fly until “the girl” confirms the mechanical computer’s calculations.  The same computer no one could get to work properly until Dorothy Vaughn showed them how. Heck, the men couldn’t even get the computer through the door because no one bothered to measure IBM’s machine.

It took me a little while to figure out what it was that bothered me about this movie, though. It’s a small thing, almost not noticeable until Kevin Costner sticks a piece of gum in his mouth. In Virginia, 1961, most folks, especially the men, would have been smoking and ash trays would have have littered that office. Heck, there would have ash trays right next to the coffee pots Katherine Johnson wasn’t allowed to use.

Beyond that, I do wish that this movie had been nominated for more Academy Awards. It’s a crime that only Octavia Spencer got a supporting actress nomination, when all three leads should have been nominated for Best Actress. Hidden Figures should win all of the awards.

Leia, Jyn, and Rey

I posted this to my Tumblr, but didn’t have the heart to post it here so soon after Carrie Fisher’s death. The shock of her sudden passing still hurts, but I’m coping by watching a lot of her interviews with her over the years and reading her books. Here’s what I posted:

(I’m issuing a SPOILER warning because the Captain said I had to)

I’ve been reading a lot of criticism of the new Star Wars movies, especially criticism directed against Rey and Jyn. Frankly, it’s pissing me off because it’s hypocritical in the worst misogynistic way.

(And before anyone jumps down my throat, I’m not dissing the OT. Luke, Leia, and Han ARE my Star Wars. They always will be. It’s the hypocritical nature of some of the criticisms against the female characters of the new SW films that’s upsetting me).

rey1. The whole Rey is just a mary sue because she knows how to fly anything, so why didn’t she just leave Jakku?

Where would she go? What would she do when she got there? Luke stayed on Tatooine for no other reason than loyalty to the Lars family who raised him. He would only leave if he had their permission. Once he got their permission he would go to the Academy. Think about it: Luke Skywalker, soon to become savior of the rebellion against the Empire was willing to apply to an Imperial Academy just to get off of Tatooine because he was bored with farming. If the droids hadn’t dropped into his life, would Ben Kenobi have let Luke join the Imperials? What would be the repercussions of letting Darth Vader’s Force sensitive son join the Imperial Fleet without at least warning him of who his father really is?

Luke had a plan. He had support, (though it was not completely unconditional from Owen, I suspect Beru would have been sending him care packages and asking him to come home for a holiday or two).

Rey chose to stay on Jakku because she had NO support system in place. No one would help her get into an Academy off-world even if they still existed under the First Order. She gained useful skills to stay alive, surviving on nothing but the hope that some day her family would return. Learning to fly spacecraft does her no good if she has nowhere to go and no idea where to begin looking for a support system. Leaving Jakku only wind up in an Imperial prison (or worse) and no hope of finding her family defeats the purpose of leaving in the first place. She learned a skill in hopes she could put it to good use later, but she was smart enough not to squander that skill on a reckless and ill-thought out mission.

jyn2. Where does Jyn get off leading seasoned rebels into battle? They don’t know her. The rebels might need her to lead them to Saw and eventually to Galen, but why would Cassian, his men, Baze, and all the others suddenly break with the rebellion and follow her?

This is so typical of Star Wars and I love it. It’s no different than Luke suddenly flying with Red Squadron in ANH even though he was just a farm boy who dropped onto Yavin from nowhere. I mean, I’m sure Leia and Biggs vouched for him, but what squadron commander would let a newbie from the wrong side of galaxy fly with his crack team of pilots before he could even so much as fly with them in a simulator? (And spare me the T-16 Skyhopper argument. You can put guns on a Cessna,  that doesn’t mean you can pilot an F-35). Even if they are flying against the Death Star, Luke could have caused just as much damage to the rebel fleet as he did to the Imperials from Red Squadron’s point of view (we, as viewers, of course know better – Luke can fly anything better than seasoned pilots).

The same thing with Han suddenly becoming a General. Think of it this way: how long did Princess Leia Organa have to work for the rebels before she earned the title of General? Why wasn’t she made General in ROTJ instead of her boyfriend? Wasn’t it Leia who gave Rogue Squadron their evac orders on Hoth? Yes, we as viewers we know that if anyone could deactivate the shield on Endor, it would be Han Solo, but did Leia really not feel the sting of the rebels not trusting her to lead the mission as a General after all of her loyalty and hard work and escapades that may or may not have involved Han? Did they even ask her?

So, don’t hand me this bullshit about Jyn not having the experience to lead men into battle. She was trained to be a child soldier by a man who just as crazy as Han Solo when it came to battle tactics. She knew what she’s doing and she had the charisma to get Cassian and his men to follow her. She’s no different than Han or Luke: When desperate times call for desperate actions, you work with what you have, not matter how rediculous or impossible it may seem.

3. The reshoots cut out a lot of Jyn’s dialog. She was supposed to be angrier, snarkier. She would have been more interesting if Hollywood allowed her to be angry and snarky.

I don’t know what did or did not end up on the cutting room floor. If Jyn really was supposed to be an angry, snarky young woman then I’m glad it all got cut. I’m tired of Hollywood mistaking “angry, snarky” for “strong”. There are plenty of angry, snarky heroines out there. Snark doesn’t make you a leader. Anger doesn’t make you strong. Luke proved that in his final battle with Vader.

Jyn never was a young woman. She went from witnessing her mother’s assassination to a child soldier to an imperial prison. She gets rescued by the rebels, but her life still isn’t her own because they want to use her to get to her father. She would have every right to be angry and snarky, but I’m glad she had the maturity to see beyond that, to act on her own motivation. To look at the people around her, and take advantage of what they offered to craft her own goals.

And, yeah, I’m shipping Jyn with Cassian because he disobeyed orders from the organization that raised him to be a spy and an assassin, for no other reason than what Jyn says to him makes sense. She got to him and he finally realizes what type of man the rebels made him and he wants to change too, even if that change is only following a woman into battle instead of hiding in the shadows.

princess-leiaBesides which, we already have the Queen of snark: General/Princess Leia Organa. You don’t do snark better than her, but the difference between Leia and many other angry/snarky Hollywood heroines is that Leia knew when to dial it back. She knew Luke was hurting after Obi-Wan’s death, but instead of snarking at him about how she didn’t have time for his moping, she put a hand on his shoulder and offered words of comfort even as she mourned her own losses.

Jyn and Rey are following in Leia’s footsteps, but that doesn’t mean they have to be identical to her. Jyn followed her own path right to the end. I’m confident Rey will do the same.

And, that is the end of my rant (for now).

Rogue One

rogue-one-2I saw this movie Friday night and I’m still processing. I do know that I will see it again, and again, and again. Which is a very different reaction than the one I had for The Force Awakens. I saw TFA once. I enjoyed it. Really enjoyed it. I didn’t feel the need to see it twice. Rogue One, I need to see multiple times. It is, in fact, the true successor to Empire Strikes Back. How so? It pushed all of the emotional buttons that TFA didn’t push. It made my jaw hit the floor and ripped my heart out. TFA didn’t come close to making me feel all of these emotions and it should have.

Before I go any further: Spoilers will scatter through this post like an exploding death star. You’ve been warned.

I don’t ask for much from Star Wars: I want heroes, real heroes. I don’t mind if the hero is a little bit of conflicted about being a hero, so long as they come out on the light side in the end.

I want villians. Real bad guys you just cannot root for no matter how handsome or charming they may be. I want space battles, cool spaceships, blasters, alien worlds, and the good guys banding together to fight the good fight. If there’s a believable romance, so much the better.

I got all of that and so much more. This movie knew how to do what so many franchises fail at: acknowledge their legacy without beating the audience over the head with it. They did it by creating opposites:

Jyn Erso is the exact opposite of Luke Skywalker. Neither force sensitive nor whiney, she was honed into a fighter by a man who knows what war costs, who then left her behind when he came to care too much.

Cassian Andor is the exact opposite of Han Solo. In fact, I’d say he’s more like Princess Leia. His dedication to the rebels is unquestionable. He’d risk his life for the cause, instead of for money. He’d kill an informant rather than let him fall into the Empire’s hands.

K2S0 is the opposite of C3P0: Finally, a droid that doesn’t annoy the hell out of me. He’s more like Chewbacca, who follows Cassian and Jyn in a hopeless attempt to keep them safe. I do feel sorry for Alan Tudyk. This is the second time he’s been Washed-out (oooooh, sorry, too soon?).

The rest of the group is all the Seven Samurai – it’s the best explanation for their bond. Except Rogue One went all Game of Thrones and killed them all. Every single one of them and it hurts. All of it hurts. I was crying for Bhodi, and Baze, and Chirrut. They didn’t deserve their fate. Even Saw, staring at death, daring it to take him.

rogue-one-1And, I swear, at the very end, when Cassian takes Jyn’s hand as they
wait for death, I thought for sure there would be a ship racing in at the last second to rescue them. I WANTED THEM TO BE RESCUED AND HAVE A HAPPY ENDING, DAMN IT! I didn’t get that. You know they’re dead and there’s no bringing them back. Not as force ghosts and not through flashbacks, because there’s no one left to remember them.

Then, the epilogue. This is the Darth Vader I remember. This is THE Darth Vader, the scary bad-assed cyborg who cares not a whit about anything or anybody. You know he’s heartless because she’s there and he can’t sense her presence. Or, maybe he does and he still doesn’t care. She had to be there. I recognized the corvette. I recognized the set up. I couldn’t believe they were going to go there, but after bringing us a CGI Governor Tarken, and giving us that conversation between Bail Organa and Mon Mothma, I knew it was possible. And, there she was: in all of her white-gowned, cinnamon bunned glory: Princess Leia of Alderaan. My inner seven-year-old cried with me, but with joy this time. Princess Leia gave hope back to this viewer. A New Hope. I’m going to watch that one again right now.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

fantastic-beasts-sequel-03aug16

Disclaimer first: I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan. I’ve read the books and enjoyed them. I’ve seen the movies and mostly enjoyed them, though some are better than others. What I don’t have is an encyclopedic knowledge of J.K.’s world, so I’m sure there were a lot of details that went right over my head.

Spoilerumptious Continuous! (or rather, you’ve been warned).

Like Doctor Strange, the movie was very, very pretty, but had very little story to hold my attention. The first sequence with Newt scurrying after the Niffler annoyed me, the same way Dobby annoyed me. I strongly dislike incompetent characters, so Newt’s inability to capture and control the Niffler pissed me off rather than enticed me into the story.

Newt himself annoyed me, or rather Eddie Redmayne’s performance. The constant wide-eyed, bent over, shyness thing – it was too much, too overdone. I couldn’t find it in myself to believe this guy was going to save himself, much less New York. Granted he got help pretty quick.

Jacob worked for me, and after I saw Queenie was serious about her attraction to Jacob, she worked for me to. Loved those two together. Tina and Newt, though, I just didn’t feel the connection the same way I did Jacob and Queenie.

Graves on the other hand, creeped me out. Watching him grooming Clarence the same way a child molester would, made me shiver. That, more than the CGI, made the movie worth seeing. Kodos to Colin Farrell and Ezra Miller for giving the movie a dark, sharp edge.

I found out afterward there’s going to be four more of these. I don’t know that I’ll go out of my way to see the next one, but I won’t actively avoid it either.

Doctor Strange

doctor-strangeOh, dear.

I think this one is going to get me kicked out of the MCU fandom.

Pull out your magical spoiler marbles. This is going to hurt.

I almost never say this about a movie, but Doctor Strange needed an extra ten minutes. The oh-so-pretty CGI could not make up for the lack of depth in both story and characters. The fact is, I didn’t care about any of the characters by the end of the film. The Ancient One, played by Tilda Swinton, would have knocked it out of the ball park if we knew anything about her and her struggles.  We’re told she’s old and fighting a dark evil from another realm, but then again, she’s not. She’s like Yoda, but without the motivation. Without the motivation, I didn’t care much when, where, or how she died.

The same goes for Doctor Strange himself. He’s an asshole, and I’m sorry but Benedict Cumberbatch didn’t have the material to make Strange a loveable asshole like Robert Downey, Jr. did with Tony Stark. If we’d seen him struggle with his studies under the Ancient One, if Wong had to help him translate the writings from the library, if Strange had failed at something — at anything — because of he didn’t have the heart or the talent for it and not just damaged nerves, then I might have believed in his journey. As it is, you’d think he was the only genius on the planet. He’s not, and he’s not the only genius in the MCU.

Don’t even get me started on the romance. A perfect waste of Rachel McAdams.

I’m not saying every MCU movie has to have a deep, meaningful message like Captain America: Winter Soldier. Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man were about as meaningful as a McDonald’s menu, but they were funny and I actually felt for the characters, especially when Rocket Racoon lost Groot, and when Antony died. Those were small moments of emotion, but it was more than Doctor Strange felt when the Ancient One disappeared for the last time.

On the other hand, the Cloak of Levitation – that was funny. Give the cloak its own movie, please.

The Secret Life of Pets

GidgetNo spoilers this time. I needed something light and fluffy this week because I’m feeling overloaded as summer closes and autumn begins. You would think I would be all Team Chloe with her ‘tude and cat-like ways, but I found myself jumping ship for Team Gidget. What a badass. Never come between a bitch and her dog-crush. Would love to see her team up with Black Widow. For all of that, I’m so glad Snowball had a change of heart at the end. What a pushover.

Star Trek Beyond

James T. KirkSet phasers to spoilers.

Just as a reminder – I’ve only ever seen about three episodes of the original show, so my love of the TOS is mostly from what I’ve seen in prior movies.

What can I say? ST:B is a perfectly decent Start Trek movie. It makes up for drek that was Into Darkness. Captain Kirk did what Captain Kirk always does: get himself and his crew into and out of and back into and out of trouble again and again. He angsts and grouses about the politics of captaining a starship, but once the action starts, he’s in his element & kept too busy to bang any of the female co-stars (thank heavens). Seeing him working with Chekov hurt so much because they were so cute together and you know you’ll never see it happen again.

This time we also got see the lovely dynamics of the Spock – Bones relationship. Karl and Zachary made their snark feel like you were listening to a family soundtrack. Kudos to the writers for handling the death of Original Spock so well.

Pairing Uhura and Sulu together fell flat. There was no chemistry between the two, no spark. I don’t mean romantic, but just something a little deeper than a couple of colleagues trying to stay alive. Uhura played the token “strong” female bit as best she could, but John Cho had about as much personality as a rock. It would have been nice to see him mention, angst, or show some sort of concern for his family which is on the space station they’re trying to save, but no, there was nothing there.

At least Jayleh had personality times ten that played very well with Scottie. They mutually managed to keep each other alive, and you actually felt sorry for Jayleh when Scottie said he had to take away her home in order to save the Enterprise crew. And wouldn’t you know it — her taste in music saves the day.

What ST:B lacked was a strong villain. Idris Elba tried, but there was no rhyme or reason for Krall to do what he was doing. Putting aside the always dubious ST science, by the end of the film, I still had no clue as the purpose of sucking the life/souls/energy out of people who crashed on his planet. And the whole bee thing? He had them, but then got a gadget that made more of them? None of it made sense, so I let it go so it wouldn’t wreck my birthday movie.

Why yes, it was so nice of Bones to throw a surprise birthday party on my birthday. Thanks for that.

So, what did all of you think of Star Trek: Beyond? Don’t hold back now.

Movie Trailer Round Up

Wonder WomanMost of these came out of the San Diego Comic-Con, but others have been out for a while and I’ve only just now had a chance to see them. Since trailers are the back cover blurbs, I can only give my first impressions and what I hope I’ll see in the movie themselves.

Justice League – The wounds of despair still haven’t scabbed over, much less healed, after the travesty that is Bats v. Supes, so I’m can’t quite generate any real enthusiasm for the Justice League movie. It’s nice to see the humor. It’s nice to see that Ben and Gal still have chemistry. Flash was a nice touch, but I’m withholding judgement on Jason Mamoa. He’ll have to do a lot better than look mean and growl to make me a believer.

Wonder Woman – Am I the only one who thought of From Here to Eternity with that first shot? You know what scene I’m talking about except with the roles reversed. I didn’t think there would be so much WWI action, but I loved it all. There still isn’t a whole lot of one-on-one dialog between Diana and anyone else in the film, so I’m still wondering if Gal can act the part, but the action absolutely has me sold.

Suicide Squad  – I can’t root for bad guys on a good day, and I find the Joker boring no matter who’s playing him, but clearly the marketers should get an award for best use of a soundtrack. I watch the movie, but I don’t know how much I’m going to enjoy it.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – Oh, dear. As much as I’m all over a shirtless Charlie Hunnam (or, the actor who should have been Aquaman), this trailer screams glorified music vid. Not sure about this one.

Doctor Strange – Much better trailer than the first one. More action shots, but I have a better feel for the other characters other than Strange. Also, the trademark MCU humor is intact. Nice job. I’ll see it.

Star Wars: Rogue One – This was a sizzle reel rather than a trailer, but if I wasn’t already sold on Rogue One, I am now. The slow motion tracking, the action shots, the behind the scenes shots. It’s a three minute, gorgeous package that expands the SW universe in the movie medium which is where my main interest lies.

What movie trailers have you seen and are you sold?