Movie Review: IT

I can only speculate about what Steven King who wrote the It: A Novel many years was thinking about, but I think that it had to be that he was fascinated about the bullying so many young people have to endure in school. As most of us have heard in this country, bulling is an epidemic and now its even worse than it has been because of social media and cyber-bullying. We have all heard about news reports where some young person has committed suicide because of bullying or have gone on school shooting sprees, killing many people in retaliation.

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Movie Review: The House

What is funny? Both Will Ferrel and Amy Poehler were two of the best to performers on Saturday Night Live for many years and they are both funny. Both Ferrel and Poehler are great in comedy sketches and Will Ferrel has the very rare talent of just making a face or doing something with his eyes and getting a huge laugh just for showing up. What is not funny is the movie both of these talented people are in, titled “The House”.

The premise of the House is a very good one. Two parents facing the nightmare of trying to face the incredible cost of sending just one child to a good college. Right at the start, trying to make paying for college funny is a daunting task because there is nothing funny about putting your financial future in jeopardy by taking a second mortgage out on a house or risking your health by working more than one job. The couple in this story try to pay for college by opening up an illegal gambling house and while this story may have started out a little funny, the whole idea took a very bad, unfunny and stupid turn and in the end turned out to be a pretty bad movie. This is too bad because both Ferrel and Poehler are very talented but the problem has always been finding both a screenplay and a great idea that actually results in a funny movie and in my experience this has been very rare.

I thought there was one scene in this entire movie that was funny, when Ferrel thinks that he has 401,000 dollars in his bank account and his accountant tells him that he is has a 401K account. That was a very good line, but unfortunately the only funny line in this entire movie. I thought it was unusual that the actor Jeremy Renner appears at the end of this movie, but the scene where he is set on fire was not funny and the scene where one of his thugs lost a finger and bleeds all over Will Ferrell was also not funny.

This movie should have gone right to DVD and should be missed.

Movie Review: The Circle

I have been very surprised to see the very low reviews on both IMDB (5.5) and Rotten Tomatoes (16%) for this movie.  I thought this movie was about average but not overly bad. The message of this film is a very good one, “when has technology gone too far”, or “when do the good things about technology infringe too much on basic human privacy”. This movie stars Tom Hanks, who probably has about 6 scenes and 20 lines and Emma Watson who is the real lead actor of this movie, so the trailers are somewhat misleading. The late actor Bill Paxton also has a small role in this movie as Watson’s father, who has Multiple Sclerosis. I found it rather depressing to see Paxton in this movie so soon after he died of a heart ailment at only 61 years old. The actor John Boyega also has a relatively small role in this film as a disgruntled employee of the Circle but he seems to be a character that was added on at the last minute, rather than having any significant reason to be in this movie.

As this film progresses we see that this huge internet company called “The Circle” hires Watson and very slowly demands more and more of her personal information and personal time and very quickly you can see she is living in an insane world that believes that information is everyone’s business. Tom Hanks plays the CEO of the Circle and early in the film, he introduces a new kind of camera the size of a marble that the company has placed all around the world. This sophisticated camera is not only able to create pictures from all around the world, but also record all aspects of the environment it has been placed in. Considering the small cost of creating such a small camera and the ease they can be placed anywhere practically anywhere, one can understand that a device like this can get out of hand very quickly.

I thought it was brave of the producers of this film to show the campus of the circle as looking almost exactly like the new Apple Campus that is opening this month, (see video below). As a producer, I would think that doing something like this would be too risky considering the possibility of litigation from Apple concerning the negative aspects of this story. I was impressed by the message at the end, which I thought was if the person who believes that all aspects of someone else’s private information are everyone’s business, how would they feel if that very same spotlight was turned on them? Another way of looking at something like this is; if the people who vote to send young people to war would have to go to war and get killed themselves, would they still vote yes?

Despite the obvious flaws in this movie, I give it a marginal recommendation.

The Circle – Book Amazon

Movie Review: Free Fire

So many movies have been made over the years that if you want to get a movie production greenlighted, it has to be different, sometimes very different. The challenge for any screenwriter, when you realize that so many movies have already been made about so many different ideas, is that you have to not only be different but also write a high-quality script. The movie “Free Fire” is without a doubt a very different kind of a movie when you recognize that the entire film is shot in a broken down warehouse after an illegal gun deal goes bad. What follows are people getting shot and killed and crawling around cursing at themselves and each other. I thought the dialogue throughout this film was interesting and unusual however not up to Tarantino standards. The action was good enough for this story but it’s impossible to make gunfire and injuries from gunfire any different that what we all have seen so many times in movies.

This movie stars Brie Larson who has made some pretty average movies since she won the Academy Award for best actress for Room 2 years ago, the most recent one was King Kong: Skull Island. Once you win the Academy Award and you’re at the top of the very fickle movie industry and in demand, it is so important to select high-quality movies. For this reason, I was surprised to see her in this film mainly because I thought it should be beneath not only her standards but below the standards of a very recent Academy Award winner. This movie also stars Armie Hammer, so perhaps there was some kind of a deal made to have 2 named actors in this pretty average movie.

This is a good movie as far as a violent gun play but there is not much of a real story here. The unusual differences with this film are not different enough to make me consider this as a good movie and for that reason, I am giving Free Fire a very marginal recommendation.

Movie Review: Unforgettable

from Dictionary.com:

A framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a scientific community.

It should be obvious now to anyone who goes to movies with any regularity that the very specific paradigm of some crazy woman who wants some other woman’s husband or boyfriend and then goes through an insane series of events to get him back, is something that producers in Hollywood believe will ultimately make money.

There have been so many movies like the movie “Unforgettable”, and it all started with the first film, which was the only good one of this type that was released 30 years ago, Fatal Attraction. Probably the main reason why Fatal Attraction was the only good movie is that it was the original and all the clones that follow are just pale imitations. I am more amazed that this exact story has been made so many times, with a storyline and action scenes that are so similar to the other movies. There is always a crazy unstable woman, this time played by Katherine Heigl and always a nice woman who is the victim, played by Rosario Dawson. There is always a scene where the two women fight, sometimes to the death. There are always several scenes where the insane woman plots to discredit or ruin the relationship of the other woman. There always seems to be some young child involved who can possibly be harmed during this insane conflict. There is nothing new in this entire story, other than to try and explain why Heigl’s character is so crazy because of her overbearing mother who is played by Cheryl Ladd, who looks extremely good for her age, 65. The comedian Whitney Cummings also has a small part in this movie as the advisor and friend to Rosario Dawson and she seems completely out of place in this story.

This film could be considered some kind of a comeback attempt for Katherine Heigl and it’s a shame she chose this bad movie to make but perhaps due to her problems in the past this was her only option. I have not seen Rosario Dawson in a movie for a while and perhaps she was in the same boat as Heigl and had no other options. The title for this bad film “Unforgettable” is unfortunate because not only will everyone forget this movie very quickly, you actually want to forget you made the decision to see this film while you are watching it. A better title for this bad film would be “Missable”.

I thought this movie is not the worst of all of the many clones that have been made in the 30 years since Fatal Attraction was released, but it’s definitely a film that should have gone straight to DVD.

Past Movie Review: The Godfather

Before the release of Jaws in the summer of 1975 there really wasn’t something like a summer blockbuster type of movie. Jaws, is based on the Peter Benchley book and was the first movie of its kind and the very first summer blockbuster. Horror movies and scary movies we had, but nothing like this. Nothing where a Giant Great White shark terrorized and killed several residents of an east coast beach town. And nothing like the opening scene of this movie where a woman is killed by a shark at night while swimming in the ocean. Accompanying all of this was the music of John Williams which was brilliant and never more effective than the now famous music when the shark would start to attack someone. It is hard to imagine more perfect theme music for Jaws than the musical score for this great film.

Over the years we all have learned through documentaries and stories we have read about the extreme difficulty everyone who worked on this film had with the mechanical shark that they named “Bruce”. To get past many of the non-stop mechanical shark problems, the director of Jaws, Steven Spielberg eventually realized that showing less of the shark would be more terrifying than showing more and this, in fact, made the film even more scary than it would have been otherwise. In the end, despite so many production problems and the film constantly being overbudget, Jaws became the greatest box office movie hit up to that time.

All of the main stars in this movie were all at the peak of their acting skills, Richard Dreyfus, Robert Shaw and Roy Scheider and all of them probably thought at the time that the movie would be a bomb, mainly due to all the problems with the mechanical shark. Perhaps the greatest scene in the movie was the exact moment in time where the Great White shark showed his face for the first time, as Scheider was pouring blood into the water to lure him to be captured and killed. His slow backward walk towards the middle of the boat and his now famous line to Quint, played by Robert Shaw, “We are going to need a bigger boat”, is the one line in the entire history of all movies that has been repeated more times than any other.  I cannot even begin to count how many times I have heard someone say, “We are going to need a bigger something” in a movie. Another standout performance for me was Murray Hamilton’s portrayal of the town mayor, who throughout the entire movie, cared more about the money the township would be losing, rather than saving lives. His acting and bad decisions during so many arguments with Richard Dreyfus and Roy Scheider provide some of the most frustrating and funny moments in the movie. Hamilton’s character is a politician and a personality that all of us have had experiences running into and disliking.

The ending of Jaws including several scenes of Hollywood overkill and showing some things that a shark would never do, including launching its entire body into the sinking boat, but the big explosive ending created the satisfying blockbuster ending we were all waiting for. The concept of a summer blockbuster had to start somewhere and Jaws started it all 42 years ago.

Movie Review: John Wick Chapter 2

Keanu Reeves has been around for 30 years now and after the Matrix franchise of 3 movies ended 13 years ago he can call his own shots and do whatever he wants as far as acting or producing any movie. Since the Matrix Reeves has been making mostly action movies, with the exception of, “The Lake House” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Now, with the 2nd installment of the John Wick franchise and the extremely impressive reviews on IMDB (87%) and Rotten Tomatoes (90%), Keanu has found a movie franchise that could be the equal to the Mission Impossible franchise has been for Tom Cruise.

Like the first John Wick movie that came out in October 2014, this one has the same simple story, followed by extremely violent, bloody and one of kind hand to hand and gun fight sequences and action at a very intense almost insane level. Even if you hate violent movies like this, you cannot help but be impressed with the amount of preparation, training, stunts and risks the producers of both movies have taken to create so many dangerous action sequences. Both of these movies have perfected the art of the rapid-fire handgun shooting and a very high percentage of the people shot in this movie were shot in the head. Of course, the logistics of these action sequences are absurd. Thousands of bullets are shot at John Wick and even though he is wearing body armor, he is rarely severely injured or even killed and this is despite Wick killing probably 100 people in this film outdoors, indoors, in underground tunnels and even inside a series of rooms covered with mirrors. Wick is also hit by a car and then thrown no less than 2 times and is able to get up and continue fighting, which is ridiculous. He is also able to continue fighting after getting stabbed and even shot. If you forego the logistical problems in the action sequences and appreciate the choreography then this film will keep your attention during the entire two hours.

The actors Common and Laurence Fishburne both have strong performances in this film.

Go to this movie if you appreciate a great action film but not if you expect a good story. I recommend John Wick Chapter 2.