Tag Archives: movie reviews

I Will Miss Game of Thrones

Hey 3.5 readers.

Just want to say that win, lose or draw after tonight’s episode, I will really miss Game of Thrones.

Not that you want to hear my life story, but the past decade was hard for me, due in large part to some not so bright moves I made at the end of the previous decade.  I spent the last decade digging myself out of a hole (or climbing out of a hole?) and long story short, this show was always the one constant I could look forward to.

Come spring time, every Sunday night, I could turn on HBO and for a solid hour I could forget about all my problems and just get lost in the fantasy.  Honestly, the time when Boardwalk Empire was on before it was great.  And for awhile True Blood was on, I forget, before or after it so really, Sunday nights were great for a while.

What is HBO going to replace it with?  Does anyone know?  Come to think of it, from the Sopranos to True Blood to Boardwalk to Game of Thrones, HBO has been my required Sunday night viewing for a long time now and I wonder what is coming next.

I know a lot of people are down on what happened with Khaleesi last week and it will be impossible to make anyone happy with the ending this week.  Part of the problem is that the show is, indeed, going to end and endings are always sad and leave you wanting more of what you can no longer have.

I do think the past couple seasons felt a little rushed but overall I have a feeling that the ending will be unexpected.

My prediction is that invaders from a yet to be explored land will come in and take it all.  Arya mentioned there is more unexplored land a couple seasons ago so it is possible.

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Movie Review – A Dog’s Journey (2019)

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.  So, this movie is the sequel to 2017’s “A Dog’s Purpose” and it continues with author W. Bruce Cameron’s tried and true formula of pulling on the heart strings of pet owners.  You might remember in the original, Bailey died and reincarnated over and over, becoming a different dog each time, helping a slew of owners along the way as he pined to return to his original owner, Ethan (Dennis Quaid).

In this go around, Bailey croaks again and again, reincarnating over and over so he can help Ethan’s grandaughter, CJ, as he finds her again and again throughout numerous dog lives.

You cry when the dog dies.  You rejoice when the dog lives again.  Honestly, these movies are one step above being Hallmark films but somehow they make you care about the characters and the dog and I suppose the message is we all need unconditional love in our lives and dogs are better at providing that than humans.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – John Wick 3: Parabellum

Prepare for war, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of “John Wick 3.”

John Wick was such a breath of fresh air when it came out so many years ago now.  I say that facetiously because the air was laden with a smelly, corpse stench but you know what I mean.  In a sea of sequels, prequels and reboots, it was something new to latch our hooks into.

And to date, Hollywood hasn’t managed to screw it up…yet.  This third installment doesn’t disappoint, though it does promise a fourth.  Truth be told, this one was good enough that I look forward to a fourth and I suppose that’s the name of the game.  When the movies start to stink, it’s time to call it a day, until the next reboot comes along.

Wick (Keanu Reeves) is on the run following a terrible offense he committed against the all knowing, all seeing high table of hitmen that, at least in this universe, control the actions of all assassins for hire.

The Adjudicator (Asia Kate Dillon of “Orange is the New Black” fame) is on the hunt for vengeance and she puts Wick’s fanboy, Zero (Mark Dacascos) to the task.  With martial arts flare, Zero and company track Wick on a worldwide hunt, with Halle Berry, Angelica Houston, Laurence Fishburne, that guy who plays Ser Bronn of the Blackwater on Game of Thrones, and Ian McShane either reprising their old roles or stopping by the first time, depending on who you might be referring to.

It’s a highly artistic, super choreographed blood bath.  The body count is high and all done with stylish flare.  It’s not something easily described so you’ll just have to watch it.

Overall, this is the best new franchise to come around in a long time, so I hope they keep it up but also manage to end it with the same style as they’ve employed in past films.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Every Which Way But Loose (1978)

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I’m still on my Clint Eastwood kick, 3.5 readers.

This time I rented his iconic comedy.  I’d been meaning to see it.  I heard good things and there have been so many references to it in pop culture, especially to Clint’s sassy pet orangutan, Clyde.

Gotta say, I was not impressed.  Seems like blasphemy as I like all the other Clint movies I’ve seen so far, but I didn’t really get the point of this movie, or if it even had one.

Clint stars as Philo Beddoe, a hard living truck driver by day who fights in underground fist fights at night.  One night while at a club with his best buddy Orville (Geoffrey Lewis), Philo meets up and coming country western star Lynn Halsey-Taylor.

The tough guy falls instantly in love and upon learning she’s leaving town, he follows in the hopes of catching up with her again.

The rest is a road trip film gone awry.  While in pursuit of the babe, Philo offends the lamest biker gang ever as well as a pair of bumbling cops.  Both pursue Philo in the hopes of getting revenge and Philo stymies them at every corner.  Meanwhile, Orville’s foul mouthed mother, Ma. fends off more bikers with her profanity and her shotgun.

Clyde is utilized as an ongoing gag, making all kinds of fart jokes, sticking up his middle finger and so on.

I think had I been an adult in 1978 I might have laughed at this, though I’ve seen other films from this time and earlier that will billed as comedies that have made me laugh.  I think this one just falls flat.  The jokes are kind of cheap and though I hate to give the ending away, there isn’t really any kind of conclusion that makes you glad you watched the damn thing.

One thing that gets me is the 1970s were Clint’s prime years and he was in his 40s then.  So much lush hair.  I guess it really pays to work out and eat right and take care of yourself.

A young Beverly D’Angelo joins the gang as Orville’s love interest, Echo.  Think about it.

I get a lot of people like this movie but me, I don’t see it.  And to be honest, I can’t make this accusation for sure, but the whole vibe seems like it was a little too inspired by Smokey and the Bandit – just two hayseeds out trying to have a good time and stick to the squares.

Clint’s longtime girlfriend Sondra Locke was in a lot of Clint movies and she plays his love interest here.  I guess she was considered a hottie in her day and I’m sure she was a nice enough lady but I’m not sure I get her.  I’ve seen her in three Clint movies and she’s always cast as a character who is always pissed off at Clint, yelling at him and cussing him out.  Then again, their relationship did end with 10 years of litigation so maybe this foreshadowed that.  I don’t know.

STATUS – Hate to say it, but not shelf-worthy.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Escape From Alcatraz (1979)

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Hey 3.5 readers.  BQB here.

I don’t know if this will be much of a review.  Just that I have been on a Clint Eastwood movie kick lately.  He is one of my favorites and I only got to know him as an actor when he was old.  When he was young, he was so cool.  Shame what age does to us, though I suppose in many ways, he has retained his coolness.

“Escape from Alcatraz” is based on the real life escape by Frank Morris (Clint Eastwood) from the legendary prison.  In many ways, it is the same old prison story, though now I wonder if this wasn’t the film that started all the other prison movies.

Clint as Morris gets hassled by a pervert, makes friends, gets upset when one of his pals is wronged and ultimately, figures out an escape plan.  They do forget to elaborate on the evil doings that got him locked up in the first place.  Ironically, the escape plan mirrors the plan that happened in real life and as shown in Showtime’s recent “Escape at Dannemora.”  One wonders if those inmates had seen this film.

Good movie and a running theme in Clint movies is that he is tough and stands up for himself.  He doesn’t start shit but doesn’t accept it when shit is slung at him.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Avengers: Endgame (2019)

I think I might be the only one who thinks it stinks.

BQB here with a review of what will apparently be the last Avengers movie.

It’s good.  It’s flashy.  It’s got all the usual razzle dazzle.

By the way, they did a good job of keeping the plot under wraps.  There are some major changes that happen to the universe in this movie so if you haven’t seen it yet, you probably should not read on.

SPOILERS ABOUND.

So, it’s over three hours and there’s a lot of very confusing time travel.  Basically, Ant Man informs us of quantum technology which is used by the Avengers to go back in time and grab the infinity stones before Thanos can.

The result is sort of a quasi-highlight reel of the past films in the franchise.  The scenes aren’t all taken verbatim but the characters from the future are doing things while the characters from the past.  In some ways it’s cool and leads to a lot of poignant wrapping up of a number of character arcs.  In others, it feels like one of those final episodes of a TV show where the writers didn’t know what to do so they turned in a clip show.

I had a hard time following it and sad to say, it’s the first Avenger movie where I couldn’t wait for it to be over.

The ending is sad and sets up for new films with other characters taking the lead.

I’m not sure what they could have done differently and there are fun parts.  It’s still worth the price of admission and wraps up the series well.

I just…I don’t know.  Meh.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Hellboy (2019)

God, this movie sucks.

Let’s get this review over with.

I rarely give a movie a bad review.  After all, I’ve never made one before so any movie is better than my non-existent one, but this one is pretty bad.

The original two were great.  That was largely due to Director Guillermo Del Toro’s ability to make the scary and macabre seem beautiful.  The plots were well paced and succinct and you cared about the characters.

The reboot is garbage, like the writers weren’t sure what they wanted to do so they just threw a bunch of random crap into a blender and pushed the on switch.

It’s not just the deviation from the source material.  Though fans will be disappointed to see Abe and Liz didn’t make the cut in this one, I’d be totally willing to be cool with the franchise going in a different direction.  The problem is it went in like, 50 different directions.

David Harbour plays the titular demon gone good this time.  There’s a wrestling match with a vampire and a team of giant hunters.  The literal Alice in Wonderland and a were-cheetah are Hellboy’s companions.  There’s a ridiculous amount of exposition and large chunks of backstory are simply spoonfed.  There’s way too much telling and not enough showing.  Somehow, this all leads to a battle royale with a witch (Mila Jovovich) and a pig man.  How they are all interconnected?  Your guess is as good as mine.

I might be willing to forgive all of this.  Sometimes there are great properties that come out as steak and years later, all the studio is willing to give it is the potato chip treatment.  Potato chips are good, now and then.  At least they are tasty.

The problem is that amidst the lack of surety of which plot point the movie wants to focus on, there’s also some confusion over what it wants to be.  The entire theme is juvenile.  A big dope with filed down horns with potty humor galore.  That’s not necessarily bad, but then the F bomb is dropped with reckless abandon, often for no added effect, just because they could do it apparently.  I’m not against a good F bomb when it is timed right, but the first two put story over shock value while this one relies on swears and grossness.  At least Del Toro made the grossness beautiful.

Ultimately, it’s a simpleton movie with ghosts and goblins that is the kind of stuff that is geared toward kids but then again, it’s riddled with gratuitous cussing so you can’t take a kid to it.  This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem because shows like “True Blood” have taught us there is room for adult themed horror but the problem is the movie is so dumb that the adults who can handle the swearing aren’t going to enjoy it.  It’s too dirty for kids and too dumb for adults so who this movie is for I don’t know.

Ian McShane, who appears as Hellboy’s father, appears lost in this drek.  At one point, there’s a scene where his face gets grafted onto a monster and one wonders if he either fired his agent or decided the money is worth it.  At any rate, he’s too good for this and frankly, David Harbour is too.

I’m always sketchy about reboots, but done well, they can be great.  And I always try to leave room that updates to long beloved properties are done to reflect youthful tastes and I’m not the target audience.  Still, this just sucks.  Hellboy is better than this and if he sees this movie, he’ll probably bash it with his rock arm.

STATUS:  Not-shelfworthy.

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Movie Review – The Best of Enemies (2019)

And they say the Klansman’s heart grew two sizes that day.

BQB here with a review of The Best of Enemies.

Making this movie was a gamble in this day and age.  It’s based on the true story of how, in 1971, African American community organizer and civil rights activist Ann Atwater (Taraji P. Henson) and Ku Klux Klan leader CP Ellis (Sam Rockwell) came together and became unlikely friends and allies while working together on a committee that would decide whether or not to integrate a school in Durham, South Carolina.

Understandably, in this day and age, there is no forgiveness for racism, even for a racist who claims to have seen the light and claims to be reformed.  Ergo, while movies such as this or “The Green Book” have stories about a racist jerk who abandons his racist ways after spending time and coming to care about black people, an ex-racist isn’t going to get a medal today.  Sorry, but we live in a time now where you know not to be racist from the beginning.

Despite all that, the story does have a message that is worth noting, especially in today’s toxic political environment.  In the past, school integration was such a divisive issue that you might recall the Army had to be called in to watch the backs of African American students regarding the case of Brown vs. Board of Education.

In 1971, the community of Durham took a different approach.  It was decided to hold a two week meeting in which community leaders, black and white, got together to discuss their differences on the topic of integrating the local school in the wake of a fire that made the school for African American students unsuitable.

CP Ellis, the local head klansman, naturally hates the idea.  Meanwhile, Ann Attwater, a tireless voice fighting for the rights of African Americans, argues the community can’t expect African American kids to learn in a burnt out husk of a ruined school building.

As the two weeks long discussion group progresses, both sides get to know each other and the underlying lesson is that if enemies would just sit down and break bread, they might realize the other is, despite all their flaws, human and compromise might be had.  True, asking for a compromise with a klansman is pretty unreasonable to say the least but the message seems to be that because both sides sat down and talked rather than meet on picket lines to hurl insults, progress was made.

There’s no redemption for Ellis in today’s woke America, and no one’s arguing there should be.  Still, as he sits with his arch nemesis Ann and gets to know her as a person, and then starts to get to know other African Americans, he starts to learn their plight and how wrong his actions as a klansman have been.  Meanwhile, though Ann is the underdog hero in the fight and doesn’t have anything to prove to Ellis, she does get to know him and when she learns of some of his personal problems that led him to become such a hardened bastard, she starts to pity him.

I don’t know.  The movie is a tough sell and the idea that a klansman could ever be welcomed back into polite society isn’t going to win much applause.  However, the message that political opponents should stop hurling insults and threats and start sitting down and actually talking and finding out just what it is that the other side fears, be those fears rational or irrational, a path toward a solution might be presented.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – The Highwaymen (2019)

Nyeah, a couple of old cowboys are going to take down Bonnie and Clyde, see?

BQB here with a review of Netflix’s The Highwaymen.

It’s the 1930s and murderous boyfriend/girlfriend duo Bonnie and Clyde are tearing through the country and Texas in particular, machine gunning their way to fame and fortune one bank at a time.

You’d think people would be disgusted by that sort of thing but remember, it was the Great Depression, and many an American had been ousted out of their home by the banks.  Ergo, Bonnie and Clyde were cheered on as celebrities, a new version of Robin Hood, though they didn’t give their dough away to the masses and they gunned down a multitude of lawmen, often in instances it wasn’t necessary for escape but they just thought it seemed like a fun thing to do.

Enter Frank Hamer and Maney Gault (Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, respectively), a couple of old cowboys in a world that doesn’t want them anymore.  In their younger days, they rode the open range on horseback as Texas Rangers, roaming all over the American territories, jurisdiction be damned, just to get their man.

Both are old men living quiet lives but wracked with guilt over the blood they spilled in the name of justice.  Frank married a rich younger woman and works as a security consultant for an oil company.  Maney didn’t luck out as well.  He lives on the couch in his grown daughter’s house.  Depression has got the best of him and he feels like a burden.

With the introduction of cars and interstate travel, America has entered into a sort of Wild West Part II phase.  Cowboys like Hamer and Gault may have tamed the West, but now, with multiple jurisdictions, state lines, and highways that can take a driver anywhere, the powers that be are clueless how to stop a two-person murder crew.  Even worse, they can’t or won’t share information with each other.  Add in the FBI with modern tech (for that day) and you’ve got a lot of people investigating but not communicating.

Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, the governor of Texas at the time (Kathy Bates) begrudgingly allows Hamer and Gault to be reinstated, even though the Texas Rangers are considered an old relic of a long forgotten past.  Hamer and Gault are old, achy, sore, in rough shape and Gault needs to stop every five minutes to take a leak but they are experts on one thing that the younger breed of lawman isn’t, namely – tracking.  Find a clue, follow it to another clue, then follow that to another one…and follow it across state lines if need be.  After all, no one claimed a jurisdictional beef on their horseback days, but now, they’ll have to sneak around the backs of the Feds, Sheriffs, police chiefs, etc. as they move state by state, keeping their investigation to themselves as Bonnie and Clyde have been known to buy the loyalty of many a corrupt official.

Bonnie and Clyde themselves are seen very little, and that’s likely by design.  Although the two with their tommy guns are iconic, there have been movies before where the duo are romanticized as free love birds sticking it to the man.  This one is more on the nose, that they’re just two assholes who don’t want to work and are having fun and don’t value human life enough to not gun down whoever crosses them.  Thus, to give them big scenes where they’re tearing up scenery with their gats would probably be to give them more attention than they deserve.

Accordingly, this one’s on the duo who caught them, and perhaps even an ode to the old folks who are struggling to keep up with a changing world yet are still needed because they remember how to do things that aren’t done anymore – which sounds useless until you need that thing done.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

 

 

 

 

 

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Movie Review – Dumbo (2019)

Elephants can fly, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Disney’s latest remake of one of its classic cartoons, Dumbo.

This was always going to be a hard sell because the original Dumbo from the 1940s did not age well.  It was about a little elephant with big ears and everyone made fun of him because he was different and was essentially a tale about how kids shouldn’t do that to other kids, somewhat woke or its time.

But then again, Dumbo also had friends, one of whom was a crow who was a stereotypical caricature of an African American named Jim Crow after the laws that kept African Americans down at the time.  He was also the BFF of a mouse who he got accidentally drunk with only to hallucinate and see all kinds of crazy shit in a fever dream montage so…yeah.  I know that montage scared the crap out of me as a kid.

Also, though the anti-bullying message holds up, the elephant’s actual name is Dumbo in that people just called the little guy dumb and it stuck and no one thought to change it so he could have some self respect.  Oh, and circuses don’t have elephant shows anymore because somewhere along the line we decided as a society that it was uncool to watch live animals get paraded around and forced to do drinks for our amusement.

Ergo, Disney had a lot, and I mean a lot, to change here, so much so one wonders why they didn’t just leave this one to remain in the vault next to Song of the South.

In this version, Colin Farrell plays a soldier who returns home from WWI without an arm…and oh, by the way his wife died while he was there and also his children were being raised all the while by the circus performers he used to perform with as a trick shooting cowboy.  So, yeah, a lot of misery straight out of the gate.

Danny DeVito is the ringleader and the circus is struggling as times are changing.  Blah, blah, blah, enter baby Dumbo who everyone hates at first because he has big ears but then it turns out he can fly, so the moral of the story really hasn’t changed i.e. don’t be mean to kids who are different because one day they might turn out to have special skills that make them rich and famous and they’ll leave you in the cold but uh…if they don’t have any skills and just have to go through life with a deformity then….it’s ok to make fun of them I guess?

Oh well.  It’s not perfect.  Blah, blah, blah, long story short, Dumbo is discovered by an evil, big corporate theme park owner played by Michael Keaton (Apparently, no one at Disney saw the irony).  Devito is scammed into giving up his intellectual property rights to the elephant (No one at Disney saw the irony) and when Dumbo is separated from his mother, he bands together with Farrell, the kids, and a French acrobat (Eva Green) to burn the big corporate theme park to the ground  so Dumbo and his Mom can return to India and Devito can create a new park where performers are treated well and their dignity isn’t sacrificed on the altar of the almighty dollar (No one at Disney saw that irony.)

Sidenote – actually, Dumbo just escapes but in his rage at being bested, Keaton’s character accidentally burns his park to the ground but ok, enough spoilers for this review.

STATUS: Borderline shelf-worthy.  The best that probably could have been done to remake a movie that didn’t hold up over time.  The irony is that the original and the remake are both critical of how the entertainment industry sacrifices performer dignity, chewing them up and spitting them out, just sucking the money out until the next big thing comes along and uh, maybe uh, you know, in that line of thinking, Dumbo could have been left to the history books, stuff that cartoon fans could have watched with a modern critical eye but the remake to suck more money out of it could have been skipped.

Because at the end of the day, despite all the wokeness that was crowbarred into a story that was not woke the first time around, some Hollywood somewhere decided that the elephant still had to be called Dumbo and couldn’t get a new name because, you know, it isn’t cool to call the elephant dumb.  You couldn’t call it Jumbo and still get the fan recognition ticket sales.  Oh well.  Michael Keaton’s character wins.

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