Tag Archives: movie

Movie Review – Leap! (2017)

If you don’t leap, you’ll never learn how to fly.  However, if you don’t see this movie, you won’t miss much.

For years, Disney has been the behemoth to beat as rival studios vie to see who can produce a heartwarming child’s tale that has depth, range and becomes so touching that kids love it well into their own adulthood and share it with their own children.

The Weinstein Company is the latest studio to give this a go and…well, to quote Jon Lovitz’ the Critic, “It stinks.”

On paper, the plot has all the trappings of a kids’ story that should be beloved through the ages.  In the 1800s, two orphans from the French countryside, Felicie and Victor, escape their orphanage and head off to Paris to pursue their dreams.  Victor wants to become a great inventor, while Felicie dreams of becoming a ballerina.

Felicie beguiles her way into a ballet school but relies on ex-ballerina turned scullery maid Odette to teach her, paving the way for Mr. Miyagi style lessons as Odette gets her student to perform mundane tasks that cause her student to learn ballet.

With an interesting storyline and a historic backdrop featuring fights/chases on the scaffolding surrounding the Statue of Liberty and Eiffel Tower while they are being built, you’d think this would be a slam dunk.  Instead, it’s like the ball was pulled out of the hoop and flushed down the toilet.

I could go on and on about the problems in this movie but the main one is that this is a period piece and yet…there’s a lot of modern references.  Sure, Disney films aren’t exactly historical documentaries but they at least don’t go out of their way to break the period setting.

Meanwhile, this film contains a number of words/phrases from modern times that act like speed bumps, shaking up what might have otherwise a smooth ride.  The one that stands out in my mind is that the villainess of the film, the mother of a rival ballet student, chases Felicie around Paris with a hammer and shouts, “Stop!  Hammer time!”

I mean.  Seriously.  Holy shit.  Whoever allowed that line into this film, go stand in the corner and think about what you have done.

Worse, the use of modern pop music abounds.  The crux of the film rests on two rival ballerinas competing for a part in “The Nutcracker” yet during the final big dance routine, we don’t hear something like “The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies” but instead, Demi Lovato’s “Confident” blares.

Look, I have no idea how that decision was made but personally, I envision a dopey Hollywood executive shouting, “Oh no! Kids will never sit through classical music!  Crank up some Demi Lovato while this 19th century ballerinas compete!

Also, one of the ballerinas wears pink leg warmers and a headband that seem out of place.  Honestly, I can’t tell you for absolute certain that pink leg warmers didn’t exist in the 1800s but the kid basically walks around in an 1800s period piece looking like her mom dressed her with the help of the Target girls’ active wear department.

So…all in all, the Weinsteins had their chance and they blew it.  I know when I saw the trailers for this film I wondered if we might see a heartwarming, historic film that might make Disney sweat.  Instead, it was a pile of poop.

Say what you will about Disney, but they have their craft down and they keep in mind both the kids and the parents who bring them, creating a stories that work on different levels, reaching out to young and old alike.

Ultimately, that’s the key to whether or not an animated film stands the test of time.  The kids will like this and that of course is the most important thing, i.e. that the kids have a good time, but the parents who bring their kids are going to be looking at it as absolute drek.  Plus, when the kids who like it today become parents tomorrow, I don’t they’ll rush to show it to their kids as by then they will have grown up and realized that Demi Lovato songs ruin 1800s ballerina movies.

Perhaps the silver lining is that this movie will no doubt inspire a lot of extra sign ups for dance classes from little girls all over the country.  Good news for the girls, maybe lukewarm news for the parents who have to get up early and drive them to practice.

STATUS:  Not shelf-worthy.

 

 

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Movie Review – Life (2017)

Ryan Reynolds.  Jake Gyllenaal.  A murderous space amoeba.

BQB here with a review of Life.

Our tale begins on a happy note.  The crew of the International Space Station has received a sample of soil taken from Mars and returned via a probe.  It contains what seems to be a great scientific discovery, namely living bacteria – proof that life exists beyond Earth.

The crew seeks to study this life form but alas, said bacteria has other ideas in mind.  It’s essentially a high paced monster movie in space, as the crew try to save themselves while also trying to keep the life form from reaching Earth.

One observation is that this is really an ensemble cast.  Reynolds and Gyllenhaal are the two most recognizable stars, but they don’t drive the focus or action of the film.  Crew members Sho, Miranda, Kat, and Hugh (Hiroyuki Sanada, Rebecca Ferguson, Olga Dihovichnaya and Ariyon Bakare, respectively) all get their chance to shine.

Reynolds of Deadpool fame is snarky as always.  One day I’d like to hear the story of why a good looking dude (I’m not gay it’s just an observation) still tries so hard.  Handsome/beautiful people tend to coast on their looks – in my opinion.  Yes, I am discriminatory against the beautiful.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Worth a trip to the theater.

 

 

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Movie Review: xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (2017)

Explosions.  Destruction.  Mayhem.  Vin Diesel’s big bald head.

BQB here with a review of xXx: The Return of Xander Cage.

SPOILER ALERT…I mean, if you care about that sort of thing when it comes to a movie like this.

So, I came up with some alternate titles for this stinker:

  • “xXx: Xander Cage is Back…and No One Gives a Shit.”
  • “xXx: Do You Remember?  Vin Was in This Movie Fifteen Years Ago and He Played a Guy Named Xander Cage?  Aw, Come On.  Of Course You Remember.  Just Think About It.  Still Nothing?  OK.  Look It Up On IMDB.  We’ll Wait.”
  • “xXx:  Vin Diesel is Back to the Shit that Actually Makes Him More After Finally Realizing that Hollywood will Never Give Him an Oscar Worthy Role.”
  • “xXx:  Vin Diesel is Reviving the Movies that Made Him Money Back in the Day But He’s Too Old to Be Awesome and the People Who Would Have Liked to Have Seen More of this Franchise Fifteen Years Ago Are Too Old To Give a Shit Now”
  • “xXx: Our Crew Rubbed Some Peanut Butter on Vin’s Lips So We Can Get Him to Deliver His Lines Just Like We Did With Mr. Ed.”
  • “xXx: Bookshelf Q. Battler Wasted His Life Between the Original and This Pile of Drek.”

But I digress.  You know, despite my snarky titles, I actually did enjoy this film to an extent.  It’s pretty tight, as action movies released in January go, though I admit that isn’t saying a lot.

When the new millennium was young, Vin Diesel hit the scene with movies like The Fast and the Furious and xXx.  He was also in Pitch Black, arguably the best thing he’s ever been in, largely because the role called for a creepy, enormous dude with a deep voice.

Since then, he’s shown love to the Fast and Furious franchise by returning in Fast Five and now there are so many of those damn movies I have lost count. He’s shown love to Riddick but in my opinion, Riddick was at his best in Pitch Black and though 2013’s Riddick was acceptable, 2004’s Chronicles of Riddick was a giant stink burger.

Now Vin’s back with a new xXx installment.   Back in the early 2000’s, extreme sports were in.  Parachuting.  Dirt bike racing.  Bungie chord jumping.  All those things that beautiful idiots do because for some reason, the world looks out for them a little more whereas I stub my toe regularly while walking from the kitchen to the bathroom and thus I’m sure I’d die instantly if I tried to jump out of a plane.

I digressed again.  The idea behind the xXx character was that Vin would be an extreme sports loving, American badass version of James Bond, but with more appeal to the youngsters.

I don’t want to say the film flopped.  As I recall, it was a blockbuster.  But it was also forgettable.  Over the years, I’ve seen it while flipping channels and ended up watching it out of a feeling of nostalgia, mostly as it reminds me of a time when I could have made fun of Vin because I had more hair than he did.

Sigh.  Stupid hair.

Another digression.  This go around, Xander Cage is recruited back into action when…oh God, I don’t know.  You know how these movies are.  Some stupid thing has been stolen by some piece of shit bad guy and the good guy has to get it before the bad guy does evil shit with it.

Donnie Yen steals the show as Shang.  Is Shang a good guy?  A bad guy?  It’s complicated.  All I know is you get to see his sweet kung fu moves.  Donnie remains one of my heroes for proving that you can still be a badass even when you are no longer a member of the highly coveted 18-35 year old demographic.

A bunch of youngsters and one old dude are added to Xander’s support team.  I assume a bunch of Hollywood suits decided that Vin was getting a little long in the tooth and needed some fresh faces in the mix.  Honestly, the only one I recognized was Ruby Rose of Orange is the New Black fame.  Oh and I hear she’s big in Australia.  I have no idea what Australian films she’s been in.  As an American, I assume that Australian TVs show kangaroos fornicating with koala bears 24/7.

Toni Collette stars as…a good guy?  A bad guy?  It’s also complicated.  She’s made up to look like a hot blonde chick but kind of ends up looking like an old hooker that no one told there’s an age limit to hookery.  Although, do keep in mind I think that’s what the intent behind the character was.

Blah blah blah.  Shit happens.  They fight.  There’s some bad CGI that looks like it was drawn in crayon.

Throughout the film there are numerous jokes and references that harken back to the first and second films.  Although they are meant to be humorous, I just sat there in the theater wanting to hang myself because I have lived such an uneventful life low these past fifteen years that my brain had plenty of room to recall moments from a forgettable, throwaway 2002 film.

Samuel L. Jackson (Augustus Gibbons, xXx’s handler in the first two films) and Ice Cube (Darius, or the agent who took over as a xXx agent in 2005’s xXx: State of the Union) provide the best cameos of the film.  They were so good in fact that it made me wonder why the Hollywood suits didn’t just cut out the supporting cast and come up with a blockbuster script revolving around Diesel, Jackson and Ice Cube worthy of a release date outside of January.  Then again, not to spoil it, but there’s a part at the end that leads me to believe they may go that way.

There’s a scene where Vin flirts with CIA tech nerd Becky (Nina Dobrev).  It’s played straight and humorous but in my mind it looked like an old man trying to pick up one of his daughter’s friends or some shit.

Sigh.  I worry about Vin.  One day he’ll age out of these action roles and it’s not like Hollywood will ever let him do Shakespeare so I don’t know what he will do.

Oh wait.  He’ll roll around in all of his money.  Good for him.  You know, I’ve never really known what to make of Vin Diesel.  Part of me thinks he’s this big, hulking, dumb cro-magnon jock that just gets to be in movies because of his muscles.  Then again, his face is kind of ugly and he doesn’t exactly have a look that Hollywood normally welcomes, so as the ambassador of the #OscarsSoPretty movement, I applaud the Vinster and I hope that yes, one day Hollywood will let him perform Shakespeare and/or be in something that could potentially lead to him getting a gold statue that is as bald as he is.

“Forsooth…uh…uhh..someone get the peanut butter.”

STATUS:  Borderline shelf-worthy.  Worth a rental.

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Movie Review – Moana (2016)

Water!  Pretty colors!  A stupid chicken!

BQB here with a review of Disney’s Moana.

OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING

The short version is that Moana (Auli’i Cravalho), demigod Maui (The Rock) and Moana’s incredibly dumb pet chicken set sail on a quest to return the island goddess Te Fiti’s heart (in the form of a jade stone) that Maui once stole because he’s kind of a jerkface.

Monsters big and small are fought. Moana’s chicken remains stupid.

Oh and lots of singing.

There’s not much else I can say without giving away the whole thing, but if you’re looking for something to do with the family this Thanksgiving weekend, you can’t go wrong here.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy and though I’m not a fan of 3D, it is worth seeing in 3D due to some awesome animation sequences where all kinds of crazy things happen with water.

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What is Your Favorite Halloween Movie?

Hey 3.5 readers.

What is your favorite Halloween movie?

I don’t mean the Halloween series with Michael Myers, per se, although you could mention one of those.

In general, what is your favorite scary movie to watch around Halloween time?

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Movie Review – Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)

I saw this movie by accident, I swear, but since I did I’m going to review it anyway.

SPOILERS ahead but really, who cares.

BQB here with a review of the R rated comedy, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.

I actually meant to see The Infiltrator because I’m a big Bryan Cranston fan but a mistake I made in reading the movie times lead me to the East Randomtown Cineplex only to find it wasn’t playing.  So I settled for Mike and Dave instead.

The commercials looked funny enough, but on its own, it just didn’t look like something that would have gotten me out to the theater.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, the plot is in the title. Mike (Adam Devine of the Workaholics crew) and Dave (Zac Efron), after years of destroying one family gathering after another with their hi jinx, are ordered by their parents that they will only be allowed to attend their sister’s wedding if they find dates who will go with them and keep them out of trouble.

One Craigslist ad and thousands of responses later (because being their dates comes with a free trip to Hawaii), Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) weasel their way into the picture.  They are, in truth, terrible, horrible people whose own exploits make those of Mike and Dave seem tame in comparison, but they fool the duo into thinking they are nice girls in order to get a free vacation.

Blah blah blah, raunchy shenanigans ensue to threaten the wedding, everyone has to work together, that’s about it.

Oh, and you might see Aubrey Plaza’s butt.  I can’t confirm it. Whenever I see a butt on screen I don’t automatically assume it belongs to the celebrity because celebrities have been known to use stunt butts.  Either way, Aubrey has been missed since Parks and Recreation so it was fun to see her in action.

You might also see like the top half of Anna Kendrick’s butt. However, I again am unable to confirm if this is the real top half of Anna’s butt or if it is, in fact, a stunt butt.

Personally, I really think that somewhere in the credits, movies should list whether the butts displayed actually belonged to the celebrities or if they were, in fact, stunt butts. Otherwise, I have no way of knowing whether or not I actually saw a stunt butt and it leaves the entire experience with an asterix.

It’s a moron movie but it’s funny.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy but not theater worthy. It’s a rental.

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Movie Review – Now You See Me 2

Abracadabra!

Hollywood just made two hours of my life disappear.

If you don’t want SPOILERS to appear, look away.

BQB here with a review of Now You See Me 2.

Some critics made fun of it but I actually liked the first Now You See Me.

Sure, the plot, the “magic” and everything that happened in the movie was highly unlikely…but in a time of rebooted reboots of sequels to reboots, IT WAS *GASP* AN ORIGINAL IDEA!

If you missed the first one, check it out. Basically, a group of magicians (the Vegas performer kind of magicians, not to be confused with pointy hat wearing wizards) called “the Four Horsemen” use their magic skills in Robin Hood style, robbing from a corrupt/rich insurance company tycoon played by Michael Caine and giving to the poor.

So I was up for a second one and…meh.

Yeah. I’m sorry but “meh.”

Razzle dazzle was the original’s hook.  The magic shows/tricks were fun to watch and in your mind you try to figure out how the performers did it. Plus, they convinced me that Michael Caine’s character was douche-tastic enough to deserve to be robbed.

But in the sequel, they kind of just went back to the same well. Michael Caine is still the villain, but this time his son, played by Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame, does most of his dirty work.

I don’t want to be part of the “let’s all typecast Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter so he never gets another acting job again” movement. I realize he’s been in other movies since Harry Potter.

This is the only one I have seen and in my opinion, he did well in the role.  Of course, the role was of a British nerd, so yeah, Daniel did just fine.

That’s not a dig on British nerds. We love you, nerds across the pond.

I have a complaint about an issue that I wish I knew more about.

Isla Fisher played the female horseman or “horse woman” in the original and she didn’t return for the sequel.

I don’t know why and wasn’t able to find any info on it.  I don’t know if it was a case where she didn’t want to return, the studio decided to not have her return or what have you.

Lizzy Caplan joins the group as the new female horsewoman.

She’s very funny and in many ways, the star of the show, but it does send a message that females are interchangeable in movies.

It happens a lot in big ensemble movies like this one.  All the dudes return but for whatever reason, they just swap out one hot chick for another hot chick.

The movie suffers from crammage – too much going on packed in to two hours and not enough time to address it all.

Mark Ruffalo returns as an FBI agent/magician (which continues to be an unlikely pairing of abilities). Magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) continues to be a pebble in the Horsemen’s shoe (magic debunker continues to be a unlikely career occupation, IMO).

Really. Who wants to be a magic debunker? Talk about pooping in the punch bowl.

Still, there are some great scenes. In particular, there’s a card throwing scene in which…well, I’ll just let you watch it. I enjoyed that part enough to be left with the feeling that the movie wasn’t a complete waste of time.

Maybe just 97% of a waste of my time.

Woody Harrelson was also pretty funny playing his character from the first film as well as that character’s obnoxiously evil twin brother. It’s the first time I have ever seen a movie in which Woody Harrelson made a conscious effort to become someone other than Woody Harrelson.

I also liked the exotic locations. Macau, China (the Vegas of China), London – lots of globe trotting. Made me want to do some traveling myself.

Among my many complaints, the top one has to be that they really should have come up with another villain/plot other than, “Damn it! Michael Caine’s up to no good again!”

If they do go with another sequel to make a trilogy, they have got to come up with another villain.

Do you need to rush out to the theater to see it?

No.

Is it worth a rental?

Yes.

But if there’s going to be a Now You See Me 3, they really need to up their game.

STATUS: Meh. Not shelf-worthy but not quite toilet worthy.

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Happy Memorial Day – Favorite Book/Movie About the Military?

Happy Memorial Day, 3.5 Readers.

Favorite book about the military?  Hmm.  I read Flags of Our Fathers about the soldiers who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, written by one of their sons, and thought it was pretty good.

It stands out to me because I remember a part where the author did some research and determined that few humans are able to comprehend death.  We are aware that everyone dies and we know it will happen to all of us one day, yet all we know is life so our brains keep telling us that we’ll make it through somehow – i.e. despite the evidence to the contrary, many soldiers believe they won’t be killed.

I have no idea if that’s true or not.  I imagine many people in a bad situation (say, being ordered to storm Normandy) know the odds of making it out alive aren’t good but they do it anyway.

But in theory I get it.  When all you know is life, not being alive is difficult to comprehend.

I think about death sometimes but then it makes me so sad I convince my mind to change the subject. I feel like that’s probably what most people do. It’s not that we don’t believe it’s coming, but rather we do our best to avoid thinking about it for as long as we can.

Favorite movie? There have been a lot of good ones. I’d say the one that stands out in my mind is We Were Soldiers (2002) starring Mel Gibson. Learned a lot about the Vietnam War and particularly how it was the first war that depended on helicopters.

Anyway, Happy Memorial Day 3.5 Readers. If you are or were in the military, a guy with a website dedicated to the entertainment of 3.5 readers thanks you.

And which books/movies do you recommend?

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Daily Discussion with BQB – Who is Your Favorite X-Man?

X-Men: Apocalypse is coming out soon.

So I’ll pose this question to my 3.5 readers – who is your favorite X-Man?

I think I have to go with Psylocke and all that gratuitous booty.

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Top Ten Warning Signs Your Girlfriend Might Be a Romantic Movie Fanatic

shutterstock_3277737Oh Hollywood.  When will you ever learn that every time you put out another cheesy romantic movie, you’re causing the women in our lives to hold us up to ridiculously high standards?

Men, are your women way into romance flicks for YOUR own good?

From BQB HQ in fabulous East Randomtown, here are the top ten warning signs your girlfriend might be a romance movie fanatic:

10.  She watched Serendipity then erased her number from your phone and wrote it down in a copy of the book, Love in the Time of Cholera.  She sold the book to a used book store and then informed you that you will never talk to her again unless fate sees that the book with her number in it makes its way to you.  You call her the next day and you are all like “Seriously babe I remember your number because we’ve been dating for years” and she’s like “Why do you ruin everything?”

9.  Whenever she watches Sleepless in Seattle, she demands that you meet her at the top of the Empire State Building.  After doing this once or twice, you sit her down for a talk in which you explain that while you do love her very much, you’re going to end up in the poor house if you have to take time off of work, fly to New York City and then stand around on top of the Empire State Building like a jackass every time Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan are on TV.  She laments your total lack of Tom Hanks in his prime charm.

8.  Ever since she saw Notting Hill she greets you with “I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her.”  It seems sweet at first, but then she starts demanding you speak with a Hugh Grant-esque British accent.  You could do it to keep the peace if you wanted to.  It’s mostly just going “um um um uh” a lot but you refuse to demean yourself.  You’re an American, dammit and she can take your regular voice or leave it.  (Psst…she’ll probably leave it.)

7.  My Best Friend’s Wedding leaves her disappointed if get togethers involving your family don’t break out in a spontaneous song and dance rendition of I Say A Little Prayer For You.  You try your best to make it happen but your Aunt Edna can’t hit the high notes.

6.  Her love of Say Anything requires you to stand outside her window in a trench coat whilst holding a boom box in the air.  She won’t make any reasonable concessions about this.  You still have to wear the trench coat in August and no matter how heavy the boom box gets, she won’t let you hold up your iPhone with Pandora blaring on it instead.

5.  Chasing Amy has led her to believe your relationship would improve if a) she were to become a lesbian and b) you tried to look more like Ben Affleck.  The lesbian thing is doable but the Ben Affleck thing is unlikely.

4.  Ever since you two watched The Notebook, she asks if you’d spend a large chunk of your life in a depressed funk if she were to ever leave you.  You realize it’s for your own good to say yes but deep inside, you know there are other fish in the sea.  Most won’t require you to climb up the side of a ferris wheel like a dumb ass either.

3.  She has long dreamed that you’d become more like Patrick Swayze in Ghost and sensually work a pottery wheel with her in perfect time with her hands.  You try your best but the apartment just ends up covered with sticky gobs of clay.  Part of you just wants to give her five bucks to go buy a damn ash tray, flower pot or whatever she’s always trying to make with that thing.

2.  She made you watch Love Story.  You’ve been on anti-depressants ever since.

  1. She’s a big fan of Titanic, so much so that you often find her butt naked on the couch, breathlessly urging you to “draw me like one of your French girls.”  You grab a paper and pencil and do your best to sketch a stick figure with circle boobs but she invariably just puts her robe back on and storms off in a huff.  Seriously dude, take an art class.
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