Tag Archives: movie reviews

Movie Review – Aquaman (2018)

So many fish, so little time.

BQB here with a review of “Aquaman.”

I’m just going to say it.  This movie is solid.  I think “Wonder Woman” was better.  There were some parts of this movie that were silly and it’s a half hour too long (two and a half in total) but it’s a feast for the eyes, very beautiful with a lot of colors and great action.

In other words, DC/Warner Brothers screwed the pooch by getting the super friends together first in “Batman vs. Superman” and “Justice League.”  Rather, they should have intro’d all the heroes in their own films with an ongoing subplot that ties them all together i.e. the Marvel model.

Oh well.  Perhaps now that the super heroes are doing the solo act, DC/Warner will be able to figure out their piece of the comic book movie pie.

Suffice to say, Aquaman aka Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) is half Atlantian and half human, the product of a lighthouse keeper (Don’t know the actor’s name) getting his fuck on with a runaway Atlantian queen (Nicole Kidman).

Note that this is the second movie in recent years where a human fucks a fish person so Hollywood might be into some pervery behind the scenes but I digress.

The hard task here was to make a likable Aquaman, one who is cool and awesome that you want to root for.  The problem is that Aquaman has always been the joke of the superhero universe.  You scoff but think about it.  Given your choice of superpowers, you’d surely choose flight or indestructibility or invisibility or any host of awesome skills before you’d say, “I want to be able to boss dolphins around.”

But the filmmakers lived up to the challenge here.  Arthur lives among humans, an outcast not welcome in Atlantis, using his abilities to save people and is fresh off of helping the JL save the world from Steppenwolf.

Alas, Arthur’s half-brother, King Orm (Patrick Wilson) (the product of a fish person fucking another fish person and call me old fashioned but that’s the way it should be) is solidifying his power with the other fish kingdoms with the help of another fish person king (Dolph Lundgren doing the most acting he’s ever done in his entire career) and seeks to lead a vast army to the surface world to destroy and conquer.

Ergo, it’s up to members of the Atlantian royalty to commit treason and help Arthur overthrow the king.  Those traitors include Vulko (Willem Dafoe who looks out of place in this movie and literally at any minute you end up wondering if he’s just going to look at the screen and break the fourth wall and say, “How the fuck did I end up playing a fish man in this schlock?  I was in Platoon, for Christ’s sake!”

And of course, there’s love interest, Mera, played by Johnny Depp’s one who got away Amber Heard.  Mmm boy, now there’s some sushi I wouldn’t mind in my take-out box.

Hmm.  That comment was probably inappropriate.  Oh well.  Good thing only 3.5 people read this blog.

Did I mention there’s a kickass fight scene in Italy with Black Manta (Yahya Abdul Mateen II?) I enjoyed the visuals but also the entire time as Aquaman and Manta pummeled each other I wanted to call my travel agent and book a trip to this exotic locale.

There are a few moments where it is absurd but the absurdity comes with a bit of self-awareness.  For example, SPOILER ALERT, Willem Dafoe makes a more skeptical than usual face when the long lost, thought to have been executed queen (Kidman) returns.  Heard shrugs it off and tells him, “It’s a long story.  I’ll tell you later.”

I took that as a wink as if the writers were telling me, a member of the audience, “Yeah, we’re sorry we couldn’t think of a reason why she’s back but aren’t you glad she is?  By the way, keep plunking down your ticket money and we’ll tell you why she’s back when we figure it out.”

Overall, the flick is a good time and a sign that if DC/Warner take their time and worry more about putting out good movies rather than rushing to put their characters together, it will pay off.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Mortal Engines (2018)

It’s the future and cities move…into my wallet and take my money…and give me a poopy movie in return.

BQB here with a review of the apparent flop, “Mortal Engines.”

I’m torn, 3.5 readers.  If you read the reviews, the critics are calling this flick an epic fail.  I must admit, my test of a bad movie is if, at any time, I reach for my cell phone to check the time just to find out how much longer I have to sit through this stinker.

But that’s me and the problem is, this movie wasn’t made for me.  It’s a YA tale geared towards teenagers and it checks off all the young adult boxes and then some.

Teenagers who are in, for some reason, highly important positions of authority? Check. Adults are villains? Check. Reluctant romance between the hero and heroine where they dislike one another at first but then as the drama unfolds they fall for one another? Check.  Possible developing love triangle? Check. Teenagers save the day despite having little, if any, combat experience? Check.

Ergo, I am reluctant to call this a stinkburger because again, it wasn’t made for a crusty old fuck like me.  It was made for the kids and I’d imagine if I had been born around the turn of the century I would have found this to be a good time.

The plot? It’s a thousand years into the future and people now suffer life in a world ruined by the ancient ones (SPOILER ALERT: we, all of us, right now, are the ancient ones).  Humorous allusions to our stupid and slothful ways and our pop culture worship provide comic relief.

Cities are now mobile.  Some, like London, have become enormous tank-like monstrosities, moving across the planet on giant treads, looking to conquer other mobile cities because, well, all the world’s resources have gone to shit, so now, stealing another mobile city’s shit is the only way to survive.

Other cities move in the air.  Sorry.  I forgot the name of the city that flies in the air.  I’m an adult and I’m too busy worrying about making my next mortgage payment.

Against this dystopian backdrop, young Hester Shaw (played by someone too new for me to remember her name) seeks revenge for her deceased mother and in doing so, attempts to murder the chief muckety muck of Mobile London, Hugo Weaving.  Him I know because I saw “The Matrix” in the theater and I have the gray pubes to prove it.

Blah, blah, blah, the plot fails, Hester ends up escaping with some teenage historian who has studied up on the ancient ones’ ways (reading all about how we got fat while writing posts about our lunch on Facebook I assume) and they go on an adventure, they run around the wasteland, they fly around in sky and shit an so on.

The beginning has some good action.  I was borderline asleep for the middle.  A sub-plot where Hester is pursued by Shrike (Stephen Lang, him I know from “Avatar”), some type of hybrid human-zombie-robot who wants to turn Hester into a human-zombie-robot and she calls bullshit on that and doesn’t want to become one.

This is a Peter Jackson flick and the visuals are hella tight.  The special effects are awesome.  And honestly, it’s hard to knock the plot because unlike many other movies, there is one.

Where it lags is, in true YA fashion, you have to learn a lot of shit fast.  Personally, as an adult, when I read YA, I feel like I’m suddenly being hit with all these definitions, and rules, and new words, and “Those people are the Hoopy Doops and they believe this” but “Those people are the Weeble Worps and they believe that” and so on.

Like I said.  I’m old.  I have a tube of Preparation H in my medicine cabinet.  This movie wasn’t for me.  I did enjoy the effects and pretty colors and admit if I were younger, it would have captivated me.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy, though I don’t have any interest in watching it again.  However, if you’re a steampunk, this movie will be your Super Bowl.

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Movie Review – The Mule (2018)

Go ahead.  Make my day.  But slowly.  Because I’m old.

BQB here with a review of Clint Eastwood’s “The Mule.”  (SPOILERS).

I must admit, 3.5 readers, when I first saw the trailer for this movie, I assumed it would be a ripoff of “Breaking Bad.”  Similar to Bryan Cranston’s Walter White, Clint’s Earl Stone is presented in the preview as an old man who has lived a shitty life and now, with little to lose in his declining years, decides to say, “Fuck it” and get into the drug game to make some fast, sweet, sticky cash, all the danger be damned.

Despite the similarities, Earl is his own man.  He’s super old and though he has no diagnosed terminal illness, he’s in his nineties and therefore likely to croak if a cool breeze hits him the wrong way.  He’s no mastermind genius like Walter.  He’s just an old man who lost his job and finds another one.

Though I’m one of Clint’s biggest fans, I have to admit the premise is thinner than his present day hair and it saddens me as with some tweaks to the haphazard plot, it could have been as lush as his 1970s “Dirty Harry” mane.

Honestly, the first twenty minutes of the film feel less like an Eastwood movie of old and instead, more like a glorified Lifetime Channel for Women movie, you know, the one that your Grandma watches to feel hip and young without having to be bogged down with anything that makes sense.

Earl is a horticulturalist.  For many years, he chose the road over his own family, missing birthdays, graduations, weddings, funerals, anniversaries and so on to drive across America in his old, beaten up pick-up truck just so he could put his latest rare flower on display and socialize with his fellow green thumbs.

I know.  WTF, right?  Not to give away a spoiler, but in the first few minutes, Earl, already having been divorced from wife, Mary (Dianne West), is finally ostracized from the family for good when he chooses yet another flower show over the wedding of his daughter, Iris (played by Clint’s real life daughter, Alison.)

SPOILER ALERT (in fact, spoilers abound in this review so look away): As I watched Clint at the flower show, buying drinks for his flower growing friends, a sad look on his face like he knew he was doing wrong for picking horticulture over his child, I called bullshit. Just absolute bullshit.

But then I thought about it.  The man needs a reason why he was estranged from his family.  And I suppose if he’d been a workaholic stockbroker or a lawyer or businessman, that would have been already done before, not to mention, he’d have no need to do illegal deeds for money.

FYI that’s how he becomes a mule.  Oddly enough, though his granddaughter, Ginny (Taissa Farmiga, sister of Vera) throws a pre-wedding party.  Clint attends, is kicked out by mom and grandma.  Though granddaughter still loves him and shows no signs other than that she is a solid, upstanding young woman, for some reason that can only be describes as bad writing, there’s a shady drug cartel associate in the wedding party who sees Earl is down on his luck after his flower farm is foreclosed on and introduces him into the world of mulery.

At this point, I start to get it.  You have to bend over backwards to get it.  The movie’s writing style starts out as “tell, don’t show” with characters dumping key plot points in dialogue and eventually moves to “Stand on your head and twist around three times to get it.”

You see, it was never about the flower shows.  Earl just sucked as a human.  He was selfish.  No, he wasn’t out cheating on his wife or anything like that.  He was just stuck in his own head.  He loved driving in his truck.  He loved meeting and talking to people.  He loved going to parties and having fun and being the center of attention in his little flower world.  He lacked the emotional capacity to handle it when life got real, to not be around a wife and kid with needs and feelings.  He regrets not being a good dad and husband, but lacked the fortitude to be one.

Muling is his second chance to renew that cross-country traveling lifestyle.  He meets “the boys” i.e. oddly kind and chatty drug cartel chop shop operators who joke around and talk Earl’s ear off as they stuff his new and improved truck (a Lincoln that is the real star of the movie) full of cocaine.  He then drives off into adventure, stopping at roadside stops to meet new, interesting folks, often risking blowing the whole operation just for the chance to make a new friend.

Alas, the job starts to suck when the stakes get higher and higher.  You ever have a job that started out great and then one day, you get a new boss and you’re told you’re being watched and the slightest fuck-up will be punished with extreme prejudice?  Yes, another spoiler but suffice to say, eventually being a mule stops being fun when oddly kind drug cartel boss Andy Garcia is taken out in a coup and replaced by hardasses who have no patience for Earl’s desire to stop along his route to help strangers with flat tires or to find the world’s best pulled pork sandwich.

SJWs and the politically incorrect alike will find reasons to cheer, maybe even come together.  Earl openly tells off-color jokes and uses centuries old slurs in routine conversation.  You’re torn between being grossed out and wondering if maybe an old man who doesn’t know any better really needs to kicked completely out of society if he truly didn’t mean any harm and didn’t understand how times have changed.

Meanwhile, Earl takes full advantage of his elderly white privilege, moving mass quantities of Columbian nose candy to and fro with reckless abandon, sent merrily on his way by unsuspecting cops who simply assume they’re in the presence of a doddering old fart while the aforementioned cops then immediately turn around and run Earl’s younger Hispanic associates up the river if they so much as make a funny look.

Bradley Cooper and Lawrence Fishburne round out a star studded cast, but honestly, I can’t say it enough.  The writing blows goats and really, the only reason to stick through it is to watch an old man down on his luck suddenly fall into a world where he can make mad cash, bang hot hookers, and not give a shit about jail or STDs because fuck it, he’s 90.  Not gonna lie.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Clint just slapped this flick together just so he could charge off scenes with hot young babes on the studio’s dime.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy, only because it’s Clint.  At times, you see a little glint in Clint’s eye, such that you can just tell if it weren’t for his tired old body, the Clintster would be tearing shit up in this strange new world.  It makes some valid points.  A running joke is that Earl has to constantly fix broken things because all the young people are too busy getting on their smart phones, looking up how to fix the broken things instead of just trying to actually do it.  Point taken.  People used to get out and live life.  Now we’re living life through a screen.  The writing is epically lame.  Plot holes the size of Earl’s truck that you’d never put up with.  If you can suspend disbelief long enough, it’s nice to see Clint have fun.

 

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Movie Review – Widows (2018)

It’s a heist film that stole nearly 2 and a half hours of my time!

BQB here with a review of “Widows.”

When I saw ads for a film about the wives of dead criminals who get together to pull of a heist of their own, I thought that idea seemed like a cool idea for a movie.

Problem is, I went in expecting a tight action movie and got something different altogether.  Frankly, it’s less about the heist and more of a study and meditation on life in inner city Chicago, how a corrupt system keeps people down and out, forced into a life of unhappiness and people can only break out of it if they lie, cheat, steal or you know, commit a massive and unlikely to succeed heist.

At the outset, the movie has a great pedigree.  Gillian Flynn of “Gone Girl” fame co-wrote the script with the flick’s director, Steve McQueen of “12 Years a Slave” fame.

The cast includes Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall, Michele Rodriguez, Colin Farrell, and well, more stars than I can mention and the surprise is somehow all these big names were talked into sharing the limelight.  It’s an ensemble cast where no one really gets a lot of time in the sun but rather, each is a cog in the machine, doing their part as you wait to see what the final output will be.

Viola Davis leads the squad of women who need to pull off a robbery in order to appease the gangster their late husbands stole from.  Along the way, they’ll have to face their own demons.

Veronica (Viola) is a teacher who always kept her nose clean and had lied to herself, telling herself her husband wasn’t a thief but some kind of businessman though she always knew the truth and she clearly despises the world of hoodlums and losers she will have to wade into.

Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) seeks the independence of owning her own clothing store, though her husband had racked up so much gambling debt that she loses it.  She wants it back.

Alice (Elizabeth Debicki) has grown use to a life of being beaten by her ex-husband, having convinced herself that attaching herself to a rich man like a barnacle is the only way to survive, but hopes the robbery can break her out of this life.

Besides those three, there are multiple sub-plots and characters, all who intersect, Colin Farrell as a third generation Chicago politician forced into a life he doesn’t want by his father, Duvall, and being challenged for his seat on the city council by Brian Henry, the gangster the babes owe money to who is looking to move out of the world of underworld crime to the world of political white collar crime, strangely a step up.

It’s pretentious.  Full of itself.  It has a lot of twists for the sake of twists.  There are twists where you are like “Holy shit I didn’t see that one coming!” followed by “Hey wait a minute, this twist doesn’t make sense.”

Gillian Flynn built her name on the super-twisty “Gone Girl” but I hope she doesn’t fall into the Shamalan trap of trying to build a twisty career.  Hitchcock might have been able to keep the twists going forever, but few can and sometimes it is necessary to move on and seek a non-twisty career.

It’s good.  It’s worth your time though I think a half-hour to 45 minutes could have been chopped off without missing much.  The heist is cool but they do make you wait and wait and wait for it.

If you came for a tight, solid action flick, you will be disappointed.  If you wanted to learn how the system sucks and how it sucks people in and leaves them with no choice but to do bad shit to get by, you came to the right place.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Skip the theater and rent it.  You’ll need your couch to be comfy on this long time commitment.

 

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Movie Review – Creed 2 (2018)

Hold onto your zhopas, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of “Creed 2.”

It’s funny. After “Creed 1” I was like, “Ha! Now Creed Jr. should go to Russia and kick Ivan Drago’s ass to avenge his father!”

Well, turns out Hollywood thinks just like I do.

Hard to believe, but I remember being a little kid in the movie theater watching Rocky and Ivan go at it and now so many years later I am watching their sons go at it and then returning to my blog to tell my 3.5 readers about it.

In case you forgot, in Rocky IV, during the 1980s Cold War era, Apollo dies in a fight against Ivan.  Rocky, Ivan’s couch, failed to throw in the towel and blames himself for Apollo’s death.  He then returns to Russia to train and fight Drago and bring back victory to America.  USA, USA, USA!

In this go around, we learn that the 1980s loss to Rocky caused Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) to lose his standing, respect, and wife.  He had to flee to the Ukraine and live in poverty.  Among the ashes, he trains his son, Viktor, to rise and become a great boxer.

Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), Rocky’s protégé, is challenged.  Blah, blah, blah, Rocky says no, Creed says yes, shit happens, will he live or die etc.

By now, the Rocky formula, after 8 films, is ingrained in our heads.  Someone ones to fight.  The fight looks insurmountable.  Death and destruction is likely in store for the hero.  The hero stands his ground.  He gets knocked down but he gets back up to take more punishment, thus a metaphor for life.  In the end, he wins the unlikely victory.

Hard to believe Rocky flicks are still being made after all these years but they are still going as strong as ever.  And after each one I’m like, “I can’t see how they could think of another one after this” but now I realize they will.

To the film’s credit, the Dragos are humanized.  In the original, Drago is shown to be a cold, uncaring monster, a product of Communism, the result of a government that was willing to divert all of its resources away from the poor and into a fighting machine that would wage war for the USSR’s honor.

In this installment, we see that Russia doesn’t like a failure.  While Rocky was able to walk away from boxing and open a restaurant, Drago has become a joke and wants his reputation back.  Viktor has trained his whole life for this and it hurts him that his mother (Brigette Nielson) left him.  Both are fighting for respect and it is weird…though you root for Creed, you also want an ending where the Dragos will be accepted by their country again.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  In theory, the idea of a sequel to Rocky IV in which the sons of Creed and Drago fight to avenge their fathers sounds idiotic and childish but in reality, they managed to pull it off, give it heart, and make it worthwhile.

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Movie Review – Robin Hood (2018)

He stole from the middle-class (i.e. me and my ticket price) and robbed me of 2 hours.

Or did he?

BQB here with a review of “Robin Hood.”

Yeah, I know.  That line above was catty and it is more or less what other critics are saying.  Truth is, I had a hard time with this one because there are parts of it that are quite awesome and overall, it is an enjoyable popcorn flick that had the potential to be truly great had it just been tweaked in some areas.

Taron Egerton, Hollywood’s favorite Brit these days, plays Lord Robin of Loxley, forced to leave an idyllic life of schtupping Maid Marion in his fabulously swanky castle to go off to war and fight the crusades in Arabia.

An early scene shows Robin and co. dressed in garb that straddles the line between ancient and modern and an inner city battle is a bit reminiscent of what American soldiers might have seen when they fought enemies in the Middle East in recent years.  I assume this is intentional as a commentary on modern war but then again, there are a number of touches, dialogue, and unfortunate clothing choices that make the viewer wonder if the film’s historical expert was out to lunch for most of the production.

In other words, this is not just Robin Hood.  It’s Woke Robin Hood.  When John (his real name is unpronounceable by the average English speaker for comedic effect), played by Jamie Foxx, an Arab who explains to Robin that this war and all wars since the beginning of time are scams designed to make the rich richer off the backs of the poor (I suppose we could debate this back and forth forever), Robin returns to England and dawns the hood.

From thereon, he becomes a superhero style fighter.  By day, he remains Robin, using his wealth and influence to gain the Sheriff of Nottingham’s trust and by night, using that trust against the evil, war tax collecting politician by stealing his ill gotten gains and distributing them to the impoverished masses.  He’s like a Batman of long ago.

To its credit, it does have a powerful anti-war message and viewers might be struck with the irony that politicians have been pulling on the citizenry’s emotional strings to support wars since the beginning of time and it is a cycle we may never be free of.  Unfortunately, the way it is done is a tad heavy handed, a bit too modern for a historical piece, and at one point where there is a casino night where the wealthy wear elaborate, Hunger Games rich people style garbs as they play roulette, those sticklers for historical accuracy will cringe.  If you can keep saying, “It’s just a fantasy” then you’ll be ok.

STATUS: Truly, there are many cool scenes, awesome fights, stylish goings on and so forth.  Egerton, Foxx and cast do their jobs well.  It’s worth the price of admission but like I said, it’s a good film that you’ll watch and then never care to see again and that’s too bad because a few plot changes and some more attention to historical details would have made it a great film with long lasting appeal.  Alas, in time (like my books) it is destined to hang out in the Sherwood Forest of the 99 cent bin forever.

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Movie Review – The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2018)

Thrills!  Chills!  Vacuum bags!

BQB here with a review of “The Girl in the Spider’s Web.”

Off the bat, I’m going to address some of the criticism I’ve been reading about this movie.  The reviewers have been saying this is a cheap reboot, a makeover in the age of superhero movies, turning the great Lisbeth Salander from a deep character to a cookie cutter heroine that can be mass produced for endless sequels.

Balderdash, I say.  In the late 2000s and early 2010s, Stieg Larrson’s “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series about a young goth punk chick hacker and bitter middle aged journalist Mikael Blomkvist who team up together to fight crime in Sweden was all the rage.

Alas, for whatever reason, no American sequels were made immediately after 2011’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (featuring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara).  The original Swedish films starring Noomi Rapace live on, chronicling the entire three book series and I found them enjoyable and in some ways, better than the American version as they were more authentically Swedish (obviously) though they lacked the big budget explosions and effects that Hollywood can provide.

Back to the critics, I think they misunderstood the film.  Salander’s character isn’t dumbed down into a superhero.  Far from it.  Unlike every time there’s a new Batman movie and some Hollywood suit insists that half the film be spent on watching young Bruce Wayne’s parents get gunned down on the way home from the theater for the 1,000th time, this movie is an immediate continuation of the 2011 film, just with new actors.

In other words, the audience isn’t treated as a bunch of dummies.  Salander’s whole history isn’t rehashed, her relationship with Blomvquist isn’t explained, you, the viewer are expected to already know the past before you walked in, either from seeing the first film or reading the books or at least having heard something about the series before.  At any rate, Superman flicks might need to keep showing that space pod crash down on the Kents’ Iowa farm for the millionth time and Spiderman movies will always show young Peter sad that he didn’t stop Uncle Ben’s killer, but here, you are trusted to not be a dummy who already forgot the first film.

Claire Foy is great in the role.  Blomvquist, on the other hand, is given a total makeover and turned into a young studmuffin (Sverrir Gudnason), thus proving my point that Hollywood has reached a point where it will never again portray anyone over 40 as being either useful or good or productive or admirable in any way, shape or form.

Salander has hit her stride in this film.  After the buildup in the original, Lisbeth has perfected her ability to use her hacking skills to be the avenging angel of battered and abused women all across the Nordic lands.  Meanwhile, Blomvquist must decide whether to put his career above or below his friendship with the hacker.

Critics have complained that Salander is supposed to be a feminist hero but alas she’s been turned into some kind of male tough guy action star and I think they miss the point here.  Salander isn’t just a feminist hero but also, a realist hero.  Sure, she makes doors open, cars crash and causes all sorts of mayhem with the push of a cell phone button, and that is a super power as unlikely as the Flash’s speed, but whenever her hacking skills won’t save the day, she improvises by doing what mere mortals in her situation might do, i.e. stick a gun in a bad guy’s face or zipping away on her motorcycle and side swiping a cop car in the process because, no human, man or woman, is perfect.

Perhaps the gild is off the lilly for this series in some respects.  Something can only be new and fresh for so long before it becomes old and comfortable and familiar.  In its heyday, this series was considered quite original.  But at any rate, I think fans will be pleased that the film stays true (for the most part except Mikael isn’t a bitter, washed up old man anymore) to the source material.

Plot?  Salander is hired to steal a program that would give its user complete control over all nuclear missiles in the world.  She’s hired by the program’s inventor, who regrets ever making it and feels it should be in the hands of no one.  Alas, “the spiders” i.e. a criminal organization run by the family she escaped from steal it from her and she’ll have to enter a world she thought she left behind in order to get it back.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Critics are dumb.

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Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Scaramouche, 3.5 readers. Scaramouche indeed.

BQB here with a review of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

As a young man, Farrokh Bulsara had a ridiculous, almost supernatural and unwavering level of confidence in himself.  Where most of us reach our late teens and early twenties and decide selling out our dreams in exchange for financial stability is the safest way to go, Farrokh, who later changes and embraces his new name, Freddie Mercury, has talent and believes in himself intensely.

All he needs is an opportunity and he finds it in the form of a struggling band.  College students Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon are on the rocks and about to call it quits when Freddie confidently sings a few notes in front of them and the rest is history.

Freddie is a showman’s showman and the front man to end all front men.  As Queen’s star rises, he engages the audience, gets them involved, makes them feel like he is singing to all of them individually.  He goes to war with the music industry establishment, fighting the good fight to convince them that his rock opera style (music that tells stories) will be a hit.

Comedian Mike Myers has a cameo as Ray Foster, a music industry big shot who tells Freddie his 6 minute song “Bohemian Rhapsody” sucks and will never make it.  This is ironic, given the fact that Myers, in his 1990s movie, “Wayne’s World,” introduced Queen’s music to a whole new young generation.  I can tell you I had never heard of Queen until Mike and Co. started banging their heads to Bohemian Rhapsody in their car.

Freddie struggles with demons, both in the music industry and in his personal life.  He adores Mary Austin, the love of his life, but it can never be because he’s bisexual.  Worse, as he gains fame and fortune, he collects a contingent of hangers-on who feed his ego, urging him to indulge all of his vices – rampant, indiscriminate sex and drugs, drugs and more drugs.

His cross to bear is that he believes himself to be a genius (right in many ways) and so wants to hear he is right no matter what, even when he is wrong.  He wants to hear non-stop that he is  and wonderful and special and there are plenty of yes men who tell him this but this leads to behavior that ruins his life.  He is better off with his bandmates, who are his family.  They clash and fight but they also tell him the hard truth – that he needs to clean himself up, get away from drugs, find a solid relationship instead of a different sex partner every day and so on.

This is a breakthrough role for Rami Malek who, for years, I recognized as a familiar face, but never learned his name until now and like the character in his film, his portrayal is genius.  Hopefully unlike his character, the success won’t go to his head.

Although it is early in the season, I smell Oscar potential.  Few of us will ever experience Mercury’s level of fame, but the lesson may be that a little confidence in ourselves can go a long way towards finding success.  Further, maintaining humility and loyalty will help us keep that success once it is achieved.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

 

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Movie Review – Hunter Killer (2018)

It’s a coup!  BQB here with a review of “Hunter Killer.”

A US sub is lost.  Gerard Butler plays a sub captain sent with his crew to investigate.  Shenanigans ensue.  The Russian President is taken hostage by his military and if that subversion is successful, well, I don’t want to give it away but suffice it to say the stakes are high and it becomes in America’s best interests to save the Russki Prez.

The investigation mission becomes a rescue mission and it’s action galore.  There are some undertones of Hunt for Red October though this film is all on its own.  I’ll give it to Gerard Butler.  His performance in “300” was great and after that I always thought he was kind of wooden, but he excels here as the captain who earned his stripes the hard way, by working his way up through the ranks as opposed to those who went to officer school and were awarded a high rank without getting their hands dirty.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Bad Times at the El Royale

This movie may be about bad times but if you see it you’ll have a good time.  Zing! I’m so witty.

BQB here with a review of Bad Times at the El Royale.

3.5 readers, I’m just going to say it.  This is the best movie I’ve seen all year and frankly, one of the best new films I’ve seen in a long time.  I went into it thinking it would be decent but was blown away by its style and originality and I love it when I can give a glowing recommendation right off the bat.  Go see it.  Go see it now.

The El Royale is a hotel that straddles the California and Nevada state lines.  In the 1960s it was a hot spot for the rich and famous, though by the 1970s when this film takes place, it has been long forgotten.

A series of guests check in at the same time.  There’s the obnoxious traveling salesman (Jon Hamm doing his best Foghorn Leghorn impression); the lounge singer (Jennifer Hudson in the role she’s been waiting for); the Catholic priest (Jeff Bridges); and the rude hippy (Dakota Johnson).

If I were to tell you much more, I’d ruin it all for you.  Suffice to say, in each room, there’s a mystery underway.  Every guest has a troubled past and each mystery will come together in a big way.

There are times when it takes awhile for the story to build up, but the promises of big plot paydays are made and paid with interest if you hang on.

The Oscars have been under fire the past few years as being a stodgy institution that just pays attention to obscure art house flicks that no one watches.  This film would be the Academy’s chance to buck that trend.

While each character has their moment to shine, Bridges and J-Hud shine particularly bright.  Jeff Bridges turns in his best performance in over 20 years since the Big Lebowski.  What range.  Two decades ago he played a mellow dude who never let anything bother him and today he’s playing an aging holy man whose violent past has caught up with him.

Meanwhile, I’ve always admired J-Hud.  While most singers rely on skimpy outfits, gimmicks and scandals, Hudson has always let her pipes speak for themselves.  She turns in her performances in public and then her private life is her own and she doesn’t try to blend the two.  She’s had a number of parts in films over the years but this the most memorable since her turn as Effie in Dreamgirls launched her career.

I know it’s still early and most Oscar films don’t come out until the end of the year, but I hope the Academy will consider this film.  It is not a traditional Oscar flick by any means but the story grips you, the performances are great and Bridges and Hudson deserve gold statues.

Is J-Hud seeing anybody?  Feel free to move into BQB HQ anytime Miss Hudson.

STATUS:  Totes shelf-worthy.

EDIT: Hey, I don’t feel like rewriting this review but it was just brought to my attention by Twitter that J-Hud wasn’t even in this movie.  Cynthia Erivo plays the singer in this movie but hell, give her an Oscar because she’s also great. There are a lot of actors/actresses that look alike.  I know fairly recently there was an actress I kept mistaking for Jennifer Lawrence, for example.  Maybe I’m losing my mind or I’m not keeping up with pop culture.  Oh well.

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