Monthly Archives: September 2018

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Movie Review – The Predator

Category : Movie Review

Director: Shane Black

Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Jacob Tremblay, Olivia Munn

Year: 2018

The original Predator is such an icon, even if it is slightly campy.  It could have been worse, they definitely didn’t jump the shark, and the team even supported the film with great music, cool sets, memorable weapons, and one of the best movie monsters to ever hit the screen.  The acting might have been bad, it’s an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie after all, but it hardly mattered, the sci-fi content being enough to bolster the story through murky waters.  Sequels have been attempted, crossovers have been crossed over, but nothing has ever compared to the first, and I don’t think anything ever will.  But, I do think that The Predator gave us its best shot, not even caring how many sharks it jumped or lines it crossed on its way to becoming an intentionally bizarre and unintentionally strong take on the franchise.

Having known about the Predators for decades, the US Government has kept a close eye on the sky with an appropriately named Stargazer program, designed to keep a watch through the long night.  And good thing somebody’s up, because we just made contact, again.  A rogue Predator comes crashing to Earth, ruining a special ops drug bust in the jungle, and leaving some of its gear in the possession of Quinn McKenna, a soldier who now has seen things he wasn’t supposed to.  The government boys sweep in quickly, detain McKenna, capture the Predator, discover that it came to our world for some purpose, but can’t quite figure out what that purpose is.  Scientist Casey Bracket will help unravel the mystery, until the Predator breaks free and starts on the rampage.  She’ll have to team up with McKenna, whose son has gotten his hands on the missing alien technology, in order to save the day, the planet, and our species.

The best way to make a genre flick is to commit totally, to hold nothing back when it comes to the style, however insane that style might be.  That’s what The Predator does right, it refuses to apologize for being dumb, for being a gory, silly, bumpy, mostly-ripoff of movies we’ve seen a thousand times; the point is that no one involved seems to care.  They just don’t care, it doesn’t bother them that their product is wacky beyond even the level that alien sci-fi is usually wacky, and more than that, they ran with the style in a way will make audiences want to run right along with them.  The action is overt and in-your-face, the firefights are wild, the creatures are grotesque, the weapons are plentiful, the comedy is forced, nothing is offered politely, and we all go home happy.

In a shocking turn of events, and apart from the inherent camp of the story, the acting was perhaps the strongest part of the film, and yes that feels as weird to type as it does to think.  I don’t mean to say that there are Oscar-worthy performances here, I mean that the actors throw themselves completely into their characters is such a way as to win audiences over, and that other casting choices might not have worked out as well.  Holbrook is the real deal, not just a comic book or sci-fi guy, but a real, high talent professional who can do anything.  Sterling K. Brown is on the same level, a transcendent talent who doesn’t feel out of place in any role.  Even Olivia Munn was on point, and she’s no good at all.  They worked because the movie worked, because it was obvious that everyone involved was simply having a wonderful time, and didn’t really care if their product was half a joke, because the other half was pure entertainment.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Review – Predator

Category : Movie Review

Director: John McTiernan

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura

Year: 1987

I’m old enough to remember the Nintendo video game; that’s where I learned to spell Schwarzenegger.  This film was a big deal in the late 80s, and even into the 90s; Arnold was an action star on a level of which I’m not sure we’ve seen since.  Not in pure, unmitigated, unapologetic adrenaline anyway; modern action movies seem to be focused on ridicule and farce instead.  Very recent action films have pushed toward actual, high-quality entertainment (take Fury Road for example), so maybe there’s some hope, but there’s still no dude like Schwarzenegger.  He was big stuff, literally and figuratively, a colossus on screen, and it didn’t matter that his accent was weird or that his acting wasn’t amazing, we loved watching anyway.  Thankfully, Predator revisited is just as awesome as Predator remembered.

When the US government finds themselves in a tricky situation in a foreign jungle somewhere, fighting guerrilla soldiers and propping up a friendly dictator, they call in Dutch & his team of special ops, because they know he can get the job done, no matter how messy.  Dutch has been in many a tough spot, has blown his way out of many a deadly trap, and can be trusted to get in & out quickly without exposing his government to political fallout.  His most recent mission is to extract hostages from deep inside a South American rebel camp, or so he is told.  But there’s more going on than meets the eye, as Dutch’s old buddy Dillon well knows, since he’s no longer a soldier but a CIA operative.  He’s not telling the team the whole truth, and even he doesn’t know that there’s a wild card roaming the jungle, a hostile, other-worldly entity that means to kill every human it meets, regardless of which side they are on.

Predator is Rambo meets Alien, which is exactly as cool as it sounds.  Don’t think about it too much, or you’ll end up liking this movie less, since it’s an obvious and laughable theft of plots that have come before.  But although that’s undeniable, it’s also somehow forgivable, because the melding of these ideas led to a film that would become a decade-spanning franchise, which is hard to fathom in itself, since the original is so trashy (in a good way).  It’s bloody and gross and violent and creepy and cool and muscular and you can almost smell the heated gun metal, which was pretty amazing when I was a kid, and really hasn’t lost much of its glory in the years since.  Arnold is terrible/great, Carl Weathers is a fine good/bad guy, the side soldiers are a bit throwaway, but somehow they work as a unit.  The music is incredible, I had forgotten about that, creating a perfect mood from start to finish, and the scenery works wonderfully with the plot, every fern fan a potential hiding place where death might be lurking.  Predator is a cult classic that spawned generations of mimicries, but it stands out and holds up in a way the others can’t, with a nostalgia for the era that makes me want to binge-watch.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Simon Kinberg

Starring: Sophie Turner, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender

Tye Sheridan, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters

Release: February 14th, 2019

These movies are getting tired.  I like this newer franchise well enough, I think they got a lot of things right, but Apocalypse was goofy and the upcoming mutant movies look terrible.  Looking back, Sophie Turner was perhaps the worst part of Apocalypse, and now she gets her own film?  I think not.  It won’t work because she’s not talented enough, and audiences have moved on past these films to the Marvel Universe, which is less dark and better made.  Also, Kinberg has never directed a film before; that’s not good.


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Movie Trailer – The Kindergarten Teacher

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Sara Colangelo

Starring: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Parker Sevak, Gael Garcia Bernal

Release: October 12th, 2018

Wow, I was not expecting that.  What a unique idea for a thriller, a well-meaning woman carried away, not some unhinged individual holding a gun to everyone’s head.  Colangelo’s only other film is Little Accidents, and it’s superb, so there’s reason to trust her with her second film, especially starring a pro like Gyllenhaal.  I’m in, Netflix, let’s see what you’ve got.


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Sports – NFL Picks 2018, Week 4

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Week 4 Picks

(8-8 last week, 26-20-2 for the season)

Bye teams: Panthers, Redskins

 

Min @ LAR

NYJ @ Jax

Mia @ NE

Phi @ Ten

Hou @ Ind

Buf @ GB

Det @ Dal

TB @ Chi

Cin @ Atl

Sea @ Ari

Cle @ Oak

NO @ NYG

SF @ LAC

Bal @ Pit

KC @ Den

 


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Movie Trailer – Stan & Ollie

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Jon S. Baird

Starring: Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly

Release: January 11th, 2019

Oh no, this looks awful!  I’m so upset!  I love Coogan & Reilly, I love their body of work, they are tremendous actors, they can do no wrong.  But maybe they just have, or maybe it’s just a terrible trailer, because something is off, majorly off, and I’m quite sad.  I even loved Baird’s Filth, it’s a hidden gem, but this looks like a rock that should have stayed out if sight.


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Movie Trailer – Captain Marvel

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law

Release: March 8th, 2019

I don’t need Brie Larson to smile more, I need her to be a more consistent actor who is not so heavily reliant on brooding and internal struggle.  She’s dependent on a certain range, and most likely because that’s the easiest for her to pull off; I’m sure 99% of professionals in her business are the same way, much more comfortable in wheelhouse roles.  But now we’re expecting her to do more because she’s reached megastar status, and I’m really not sure the ability is there.  Is she good enough to play this character is this movie?  Hell yeah, definitely, she’s on par if not better than the majority of the other MU superheroes.  I just wish she was hands down the best so we could call her such; maybe she’ll prove it here in what looks to be a solid addition to the ever-expanding franchise.


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Movie Review – Rob Roy

Category : Movie Review

Director: Michael Caton-Jones

Starring: Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange, Tim Roth

Brian Cox, John Hurt, Brian McCardie, Eric Stoltz

Year: 1995

Rob Roy was released one month before Braveheart, and was nominated for 1 Oscar (Tim Roth, Best Supporting), while its competitor was nominated for 10.  Both are based in the Scottish Highlands, both focus on strong, long-haired, hero characters, who both have affronted wives, both fight the Englishmen, both value honor; I could go on and on.  This happens sometimes, two movies come out in the same season, are essentially the same film, and audiences are forced to pick there favorite, I guess.  In this case, there’s no one on the planet who would pick Rob Roy over William Wallace, but that doesn’t mean that the former has nothing to offer.  Rob Roy is a very good war drama with some excellent and exciting aspects; the fact that it’s not as perfect as Braveheart shouldn’t be held against it.

Scotland in the 1700s is a land where tradition battles change, and mere men don’t dare stand in the way.  The English nobility rule the land and the Scotsmen work it, tending it for their liege lords but mostly going about their own business.  One such clan leader, Robert Roy McGregor, the head of a respected family in the Highlands, might herd cattle for the British, but he also has plans of his own.  He borrows 1000 pounds from his lord Montrose, in order to buy his own cattle, but the money is stolen, and now Rob owes a debt he cannot pay.  But the money was taken in a plot involving Montrose’ own nephew, the evil and foppish Archibald Cunningham, who Rob will have to confront.  His honor is being affronted, his family is being threatened, and any man who thinks a McGregor will back down from a fight is sorely mistaken.

I know that some people don’t like Braveheart, but they’re ridiculous; it’s one of the best “movies” ever made, especially if you separate it from “films”.  You know what I mean, there’s a different between the two, and Braveheart is an epic war story like very few others.  Rob Roy can’t compete with that, and it has to, because it’s so similar and was released at the same time, but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless.  It’s still a very exciting and interesting drama, filled with fights and insults and plans and escapes, a classic David vs Goliath struggle that we don’t quickly tire of.  Liam Neeson is an awesome Scottish badass, John Hurt is a wonderfully hateable villain, and Brian Cox plays a simpering sycophant that is so not his usual style and so great.  But Tim Roth really does steal the show, he’s other-worldly as the detestable Archie, a role for which he definitely deserved his nomination.  You don’t have to pick; you can like both of these movies, they both have strong qualities, and Rob Roy is fine historical fiction if you give it the chance.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Apostle

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Gareth Evans

Starring: Dan Stevens, Michael Sheen, Mark Lewis Jones

Release: October 12th, 2018

Life comes at your fast.  I was all for this movie; Stevens, Sheen, the plot foundation, the religious element.  And then, surprise, it’s apparently Saw 19, or at least an unimaginative copy, a gory horror film that’s masquerading as something else.  That genre is fine, I’ve seen my fair share, but the best ones are those that own their ridiculousness (Happy Death Day), or offer some other element that transcends the style (Get Out).  It looks like Apostle is a poser, and that’s not cool, man.


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Movie Trailer – Mary Poppins Returns #2

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Rob Marshall

Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw

Release: December 19th, 2018

I had a few doubts after the small teaser, but they’ve been laid to rest after the full trailer.  Blunt is the perfect casting, Miranda seems capable of the accent, and I can already feel the magic pouring through in the way we dreamed it would.  I might be cynical by default, but not towards this movie, I’m ready for it to wow me.