Category Archives: Movies

Movie Trailer – The Disaster Artist

Hey 3.5 readers.

So, in 2003, a man named Tommy Wiseau put out, “The Room,” what is widely considered the worst film ever made.  Bad writing, bad acting, bad dialogue, a plot that goes nowhere, subplots that are never tied up and for some reason, during rooftop scenes, the city skyline is added via green screen even though, you know, getting to the rooftop of an NYC building is fairly easy for a movie crew to do.  Add in a bizarre sex scene where Tommy appears to get freaky with his female co-star’s stomach of all places and yeah, you’ve got a bomb that later became a cult classic, just because people have so much fun goofing on it.

Tommy Wiseau was over the hill, odd and awkward, using an accent no one could quite place, but somehow he teamed up with a much younger acting class student to get his movie made.

Yes, his movie sucked but then again, here’s a question for you.  Where’s your movie?  Yes, Tommy’s movie sucked the big sucker, but he can say he made a movie.  You should also strive to make a good movie but getting the movie made is half the battle.

James Franco’s, “The Disaster Artist” tells the story of how “The Room” was made.  Honestly, I don’t think I have 2 hours to devote to watching the room.  There are “worst of the Room” clips on YouTube that tell me what I need to know.  Somehow, this movie about the movie looks like it will be good.

I always like it when an underdog somehow comes out ahead.  Ironically, this film will probably give Wiseau more fame than the sucky film he made.

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Movie Review – Logan Lucky (2017)

Nascar!  Southerners!  A heist!

BQB here with a review of “Logan Lucky.”

The Logan Brothers (Channing Tatum as Jimmy and Adam Driver as Clyde) hail from a family with a long string of bad luck.  They believe they are cursed, destined to always be poor, broke, miserable, and never, ever happy.

Jimmy slaves away in a West Virginia coal mine only to be fired over a limp his company’s insurance carrier wants nothing to do with.  He barely sees his daughter because his ex-wife, Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes), traded up and married a richer man.  Clyde tends bar and laments the loss of his arm while he was serving in Iraq.

In short, they are fed up and want better.  Well, Jimmy does.  Clyde does too but he’s not interested in breaking the law, but ultimately does to make his brother happy.  From thereon, the brothers devise a scheme to rob the box office of a Nascar race.

First, they’ll have to bust veteran safe blower-upper Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) out of prison, no easy feat.  I have to admit, I was a little bummed as the promos for the film made it look like Craig was the star, whereas he’s a side character.  He’s a very interesting side character and ultimately, it’s kind of fun to watch a British man who is so British he was tapped to play James Bond morph into an angry redneck.

Overall, the movie is full of wit and comedy, giving us a glimpse of what life is like for poor, downtrodden Southern folk.  Seth MacFarlane has a cameo as a British billionaire who sponsors a race car but doesn’t know the first thing about racing and just comes across as a dick.

While I did like the movie, I have some complaints.  There’s a lot going on and I’m not sure I understood half of it.  There are a lot of leaps…a lot of planning and you wonder why people are doing things.  Sometimes you find out…sometimes I’m not sure if we find out or if I missed it.

There are some plot holes.  For example, Tatum, long suffering over the loss of his wife yet having to show up to her new husband’s mansion and accept he will never be half as good a provider, has a brief flirtation with a doctor.  SPOILER – the relationship never blooms and I mean…why?  My only guess is that the actress playing the doctor was, well…she was pretty but real life pretty, not Hollywood pretty…I can only assume Channing Tatum has a rule that he must only kiss Hollywood hot chicks.  (Probably not a rule but it would be funny if he did.)

The movie runs a bit long.  Hillary Swank is introduced towards the end to wrap up a pointless investigation that goes nowhere.  She feels almost wasted as a character.  Ultimately, I’m left confused about a lot of things, as well as the future of the characters.

Even so, it made me laugh enough and think enough that I can recommend it.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Trailer – Rampage (Or, The Rock Saves Any Movie)

 

Hey 3.5 readers.  BQB here.

When I was a kid, I loved the “Rampage” video game.  It was popular as an arcade game and later they made console versions.  You played as your choice of a giant ape, lizard, or werewolf and you made your character climb buildings, bash them, eat people, complete mayhem and destruction.  It was all very cartoonish with humor, i.e. you could eat people while they were sitting on the toilet.  Your character was usually a human that turned into a monster, so if you were injured, you’d turn into a human without clothes and slink away embarrassed.

With the occasional exception, video game based movies usually suck.  So, when I heard they were making a “Rampage” video game, I thought Hollywood was really scraping the bottom of the barrel.  I mean, the game was fun, but it was pretty mindless and devoid of any plot whatsoever.

Then I saw the trailer and I have to admit, it looks pretty awesome.  Partly because they went all out with the special effects, but mostly because of the Rock.  From GI Joe to Fast and Furious, The Rock saves all.

What say you, 3.5?

 

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Movie Review – Justice League (2017)

Well, it only took two years and four films, but Warner Brothers has finally figured out a winning formula.

BQB here with a review of “Justice League.”

Character development.  It’s what the Marvel Cinematic Universe excelled at and what Warner Brothers failed at, even though the winning formula was clear – make a bunch of films starring the individual heroes, then make films starring the heroes working together…repeat.

Warner Brothers went a different way in March of 2016 with the pathetic flop that was “Batman vs. Superman.”  Technically, they started with “Man of Steel” years back, though at the time it didn’t appear as though there was an intention for that particular version of Superman to stick around…as far as I know anyway.

In B v S, we were flashed quick versions of Batman and Wonder Woman.  The plot was hacky, like Man of Steel, it was riddled with product placement, and Lex Luthor, greatest villain of all time, was turned into a nerdy wiener played by Jesse Eisenberg.

While critics despised “Suicide Squad,” I enjoyed it, though looking back on it, I’m not sure it really capitalized on its main asset – Harley Quinn.  A Joker and Harley movie is long overdue.

Bottomline – Marvel’s characters weren’t as well known to general audiences.  Thus, Marvel/Disney was able to make an Iron Man flick, a Hulk flick, a Captain America flick, a Thor flick, an Avengers flick, then press repeat, minus the Hulk flick because the green guy just can’t carry a film on his own, sadly.

But the character development in the individual flicks always paid off in the Avengers flicks.  We would see the individual characters suffer and face their demons and  then come together as a team.

DC’s cross to bear was that prior to this attempt to copy Marvel, Batman and Superman had been done umpteen million times.  However, while I still maintain that audiences didn’t need another origin  story for Batman or Superman, there could have been a film to introduce us to this grittier, older, depressed version of Batman starring Ben Affleck.  We didn’t need to see Bruce Wayne’s parents get capped after a night at the theater for the 1000th time, but it would have been nice to have seen a film where we jump into the new Batman’s world and see what he’s all about.  For example, a Batman vs. Joker and Harley film could have done just that.

Meanwhile, “Man of Steel” was yet another Superman origin film and as Supes and Zod punched their way through 7-11 signs and IHOP restaurants, the whole thing felt very forgettable.

June of this year’s “Wonder Woman” was Warner’s first critically acclaimed hit.  Wonder Woman has appeared in TV form before in the 1970s, but generally, she wasn’t as well known as Bats and Supes, so Warner had a chance to introduce her and tell us what she’s about.

Thus, in “Justice League,” the main continuity payoffs come from references to the earlier “Wonder Woman” film whereas references to B v S made me want to hurl, as I’m still doing all I can to forget that epic fail of a film.

Honestly, I feared that character development was not Warner’s forte.  It felt like they were rushing these films out, not taking their time, that we were a bunch of chimps who would put our butts into the seats no matter what so they just cared about money and not plot or telling us what made the characters tick.

Thus, it felt to me like “Justice League” was destined to fail.  We were introduced to new Batman and new Superman, albeit poorly, and we were introduced to Wonder Woman well, but introducing us to the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg all in the same film and somehow making us care about them seemed like a tall order and yet…they pulled it off.

Ray Fisher plays Cyborg/Victor Stone with just the right amounts of anger and sadness.  Cyborg, a young man rebuilt as part-man but mostly machine by his scientist father, views himself as an abomination, subject to the will of the technology that controls him, tech that he has little control over himself.  He must overcome self-hatred to serve a higher purpose.

Ezra Miller provides much needed comic relief as The Flash/Barry Allen.  The Flash has appeared on TV in the 1990s to not so great results, though a more recent return to TV faired better.  There were a variety of ways the film could have gone with Flash but here, they decided to go with an accidental bumbler.  Hit by lightning, the kid can now run really fast.  At the time of this film, he’s foiled a few petty crooks with his feet of fury, but he’s never gone toe to toe with a big bad and that leaves him scared shitless.  He devours entire pizzas in one sitting without gaining weight because his top speeds leave his body depleted and a scene where he thinks he’s about to shine only to realize Superman can run as fast as he can is the highlight of the film.

I was on the fence with Jason Mamoa’s “Aquaman.”  Aquaman, long panned as the lamest Justice League member due to his power of talking to fish, has always been a long haul to bring home.  After all, the cartoon version featured Aquaman riding two dolphins under his feet as if they were water skis.  Here, Aquaman is portrayed as a gritty merman, unsure of why he was cast out of Atlantis and left to protect a seaside community.  This Aquaman is very “Point Break-ish,” an extreme adventurer type, enjoying badassery, boastful of his manliness and so on.  I had mixed feelings about him throughout the film until a humorous scene with Wonder Woman won me over.

As in any film, there are flaws.  Bruce Wayne doesn’t seem to give a shit about revealing himself as Batman to every new team member he meets, though I suppose if he’s going to work with these people, he has to.  Also, the plot revolves around finding three boxes that hold the power to global destruction before the villain Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) can.  Something about those boxes made me think about Marvel’s tesseract, though I suppose similarities between comic worlds are inevitable.  There’s only so much of this shit that can be done before it all seems to mold together.

Ultimately, it’s a good ride.  Would independent Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman films helped?  Maybe…maybe not.  Honestly, I worried about that going into the film but somehow the movie manages to give us just the right amount of back story for these three heroes – not too much, not too little – perhaps independent films would have been overkill.  Now that we’ve given small doses of them to see what makes them tick, we might root for them more independently.

Amazingly, the movie finally even gets Superman right.  Superman has always been a tough one.  He’s the ultimate boy scout who does no wrong and basically has no flaws, so its hard to relate to him.  Further, even though he can fight like anything and survive, Hollywood rarely pits him against foes worth his time.  Superman shines here, though I think long term, the franchise will suffer because of the earlier decision to let Eisenberg play a geeky version of Lex Luthor rather than go with the traditional comic book version were Lex is the ultimate cunning badass.

Good story.  Good plot.  Good characters.  It had heart and humor.  I finally care about these characters.  It took awhile, but WB finally got it right.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Murder On the Orient Express (2017)

God damn.  Hercule Poirot is one bad ass baller.  Kickin’ ass, takin’ names and givin’ free mustache rides.

BQB here with a review of “Murder on the Orient Express.”

New life has been breathed into Agatha Christie’s long lasting tale of murder most foul.

Have you ever been to a murder mystery party?  A series of interesting characters are introduced, someone is murdered, and a wise detective spells out how he cracked the case?

Well, you can thank Ole Aggie for that.  Here, the classic formula is revisited.  In the 1930s, internationally infamous detective/Frenchman/mustache enthusiast Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) boards a train, headed for his next case.

Alas, our mustachioed friend can’t catch a break.  Instead of catching some “Zzz’s” on his trip, he catches a case when of the passengers is murdered.  Yes, murder!  Murder, I say!

Poirot is a cursed genius – a genius because he can focus in on key details that most gloss over, but cursed because this makes life very hard for him.  Most people are able to set aside life’s little flaws whereas Poirot sees disorder and disarray wherever he goes, to the point where it makes him uncomfortable to see a disheveled tie.

Throughout the investigation, he puts the screws to a rogue’s gallery of potential murderers.  It’s a star studded cast with the some pretty big names – Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dame Judy Dench, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, just to name a few.

Overall, it’s a fun walk back into time.  There are some social justice twists for the modern viewer.  The film largely takes place on the train so at times it feels like a play unfolding before your eyes.  Poirot is one of the more beloved characters in the mystery genre, perhaps even in literature, so Branagh has a big score in this role.

God, I remember having the hots for Michelle Pfeiffer when I was a kid, watching her play Catwoman in “Batman Returns.”  Now she likes Granny-ish, though honestly, she’s held up pretty good.  I’d still do her.  Call me, Michelle.

It’s fun, at times a bit dark and gloomy.  The story itself is a master class in how mystery stories are crafted so any aspiring writers out there should check it out.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Is Die Hard the Best Movie Ever?

Trick question.  It is.  Everyone knows that.

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Movie Review – Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

This movie was a trip…maybe even an acid trip for the eyes.

Grab your hammer, 3.5 readers.  It’s time to review “Thor: Ragnarok.”

Ragnarok.  If you’re an Asgardian, it’s a word that scares you shitless, i.e. the destruction of Asgard itself.

As it turns out, Thor has a long lost sister, Hela, (Cate Blanchett), an evil bitch on wheels who wants to fill the power vacuum post Odin (Anthony Hopkins.)

It’s up to Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to save the day, and he wants to but alas, he’s been marooned on Sicario, a messed up world of slaves bent to the will of the eccentric despot known as the Grand Master (Jeff Goldblum.)

The Grand Master holds gladiator style fights and Thor is forced to do battle with the toughest champion of all, yes – The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk’s better half, Bruce Banner.)

Rounding out the cast is Tessa Thompson as Valkryrie, an enemy the God of Thunder charms into an alliance.  Idris Elba and Thomas Hiddleston reprise their roles as Heimdall and Loki, while Karl Urban joins as Heimdall’s replacement, Skurge.

This movie is the best of all of the Thor films (a series that has been getting progressively better overall whereas I would argue, for example, the Iron Man trilogy starts out strong in 1 but sucks butt by 3.)

It’s a symphony for the senses, an awesome sound track, lots of colors and special effects and even the story line is good.

My one criticism – I wish it had been kept a secret that the Hulk was the Grandmaster’s champion.  I don’t think this is a spoiler because Marvel has advertised that pretty heavily for a long time now.  The trailer shows Thor about to fight an unknown enemy in combat and then he is pleasantly surprised when it turns out to be his ally, the Hulk.

It was a tough call for Marvel/Disney.  It would have been hysterical for me, the way its built up through the movie that Thor doesn’t stand a chance against the mysterious champion, only for it to turn out to be his old green buddy.

On the other hand, Hulk being in the film is a selling point that Disney I’m sure wanted people to know about.  Ironically, there have been two standalone Hulk films since 2000.  Both more or less sucked, but this Avengers version of the Hulk with Ruffalo is solid enough that I wonder if a third standalone might be the trick.  Hulk himself gets some lines and some understanding on the screen here.

Overall, these movies keep building on themselves and the build up pays off.  If you haven’t seen the previous ones, you’ll still enjoy it but it does pay to invest in watching them all as there capitalize on each other.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.

 

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Tremors (1990)

Man-eating, prehistoric snakes!

BQB here with a review of “Tremors.”

You know 3.5 readers, even in the early 1990s, people were complaining that movies stink, lack of originality and so on.  The sequel, reboot phase had yet to begin but as always in the horror genre, it seemed like it had all been done before.

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Then Tremors came along.  First, it was funny because the heroes weren’t experts at all.  They were two broke-ass dummy handymen who just happened to stumble across a situation where killer pre-historic worms of immense size were terrorizing a small, southwestern town.  That’d be Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward.

A little bit of knowledge comes to us from college student Rhonda (Finn Carter), there to study seismic abnormalities.  She has some basic theories about the monsters but the dimwitted townsfolk expert her to know everything and view her smarts as worthless since she can’t fully diagnose what the hell these things are, seeing as how no one has ever seen them before.

Like any good horror movie, there are rules.  Kill the zombies with a blow to the head.  Kill the vampire with a stake to the heart.

Here the rules are simple yet they make the movie.  The worms are underground.  They can sense when someone moves above ground.  If you walk on the bare sand they’ll pop out and eat you.  Ergo, the movie becomes quite clever as Kevin and Fred and Co. figure out new and inventive ways to move around without walking on the ground – i.e. pole vaulting across boulders, hiding out on rooftops, riding bulldozers etc.

Michael Gross and Reba McIntyre round out the film as a couple of crazy doomsday preppers.  They’re made fun of for their survivalist ways until an awesome, somewhat hilarious scene in which one of the snake monsters break into their house and the couple pulls off one gun after another off of their walls (more guns than anyone would normally have) and unloads into the beast until they finally destroy him.  Thus, they become the unlikely heroes of the movie as their prepper ways have finally paid off.

“You broke into the wrong rec room didn’t you ya bastard?!”

Gross really shines because up until this movie, he was best known as the mild-mannered, liberal/former Woodstock flower child turned father Steven Keaton on “Family Ties.”  That Gross was able to go from that laidback role to this one (i.e. gun toting survivalist) proved his acting skills.

Funny, I remember seeing this movie in the theater as a kid and I remember having a good time.  It seemed new and different and you know, I was like 11 at the time so to me it probably was.

They’ve made like 4 or more sequels, though the second one is the only one I’ve bothered to watch and I don’t remember much about it.  The rest I believe went straight to video.

It just goes to show that if you are a writer and you are tired of zombies and vampires, you can create your own monsters, just decide a) how they attack b) how the heroes are boxed in and c) how the heroes can fight back.

Fun fact – the girl who is terrorized by dinos in the original Jurassic Park plays a kid terrorized by giant worms here.  Someone decided this kid was only able to be in roles where she is terrorized by giant monsters.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

 

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Zombies and humor.

BQB here with a review of “Shaun of the Dead.”

It’s ironic that this film is a comedy as it has stood the test of time to become one of the must see flicks of the zompoc genre.  It’s probably lasted as long as it has due to the fact that is pairs great writing with humor and heart and overall, the characters are relatable and you really worry that they might become zombie lunch.

Simon Pegg, in the first role I remember seeing him in, plays Shaun, a 29-year-old loser who wants to turn his life around but can’t figure out how.  He’s stuck in a lousy electronics store job that’s meant for teenagers.  His girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) is tired of being disappointed by Shaun’s loser-ness.  His flat-mate is fed up that Shaun keeps coddling Ed (Nick Frost) his buddy who came over for a party once several years ago and then just stayed without offering to pay any rent or even lifting a finger to help around the house.  His Mom loves him unconditionally but his step-dad thinks he’s an epic loser.

Enter the zombie apocalypse.  England has become overrun with the undead.  Finally, here is Shaun’s big chance to save the day and prove to Liz that he is responsible, to prove to his parents and the world that he is worth something.  He takes charge, leading Liz, Ed and friends to safety, but, you know, because he’s an average guy of average strength and abilities, he screws up often and in hilarious ways.

That’s kind of the whole point of the film.  Throughout the movie, various people in the party shit on Shaun, telling him he’s a loser and his plans stink and he’s so dumb that he’s going to get everyone killed.  The situation is an allegory for life.  Some people at least get up and try and yes, they fail when they try.  People who never even try will happily point out when someone who tried failed.  That’s why it sucks to be Shaun.  He’s trying, really hard, and no one around him will try and yet they never pull a punch when it comes to telling him what a loser he is.

Also, awesome scene when Shaun goes up against zombies with an old Winchester rifle (and when the gang beats a particular tough zombie with pool cues to the tune of an old song.)

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Sleepers (1996)

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

BQB here with a review of “Sleepers.”

In the 1960s, four wayward boys growing up in Hell’s Kitchen end up in a reform school where they are abused in unspeakable ways.

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In the 1980s, after “sleeping” or lying in wait for years, they strike against the guards that abused them.  Shakes (Jason Patric), a newspaper clerk, serves as narrator/orchestrator of the grand plan while prosecutor Brad Pitt throws a case to get friends Tommy and John (Billy Crudup and Ron Eldard) off the hook for shooting the most abusive guard, Nokes (Kevin Bacon) in a restaurant in plain sight of multiple witnesses.

It’s a tale that weaves across several decades, proving that pain knows no time limit, nor the desire to settle the score.  While the plan to give the guards their comeuppance is masterful, it is somewhat sad to see that revenge, even when carried out to perfection, doesn’t always heal old wounds.

There is, of course, the moral debate.  Did the guards deserve their comeuppance?  Yes.  Did they deserve murder?  Debatable.  On the one hand, they were terrible people who did terrible things.  On the other hand, we do have a criminal justice system and perhaps the boys turned adults could have exposed their crimes instead.

Rounding out the cast is Robert DeNiro as the priest who stood by the boys in their youth and again in adulthood.  He must make a choice whether or not to lie under oath and it is clearly a choice he does not take lightly.

“The Count of Monte Cristo” features prominently in the story, the Count having once been a prisoner who lied in wait for years before finally getting his revenge.

One thing that struck me is this film has a number of actors who went on to do bigger things but played bit parts in this film.  I can’t think of their names but rather just their later characters.  Bunchy from Ray Donovan is a bully in the reform school, Roger Sterling from Mad Men is an English teach who introduces the boys to the Count of Monte Cristo, Michael from Burn Notice is one of the guards and Bunk from the Wire is a gangster that helps with the revenge plot.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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