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When Harry Met Sally – IN SPAAAAAACE!

Please note: This review contains spoilers. That’s right, I’m going to ruin the whole movie for you. You can’t stop me. I’m mad with power!

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Passengers (2016)

Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheehan, Laurence Fishburne

Director: Morten Tyldum

Rating: PG-13 for partial space nudity and space hanky panky.

Plot: Two passengers on a luxurious, long range space ship emerge from hibernation decades early and learn they will die before everyone else wakes up. It’s a love story!

In the future, Earthlings will travel through space to colonize far off planets.

They say this will happen because future Earth will be overcrowded and polluted, but I believe it will be because Amazon.com will become so powerful it will eventually need other planets to conquer.

As Passengers opens, the interplanetary space ship Avalon is 30 years into its 120 year trip to a planet called Homestead II. Thousands of passengers and crew are in hibernation pods aboard the massive automated vessel with an interior that looks like a cross between an Apple store, a Carnival cruise ship, and The Mall of America.

A freak meteor storm causes the ship to malfunction, and for some reason a single hibernation pod pops open and out pops affable engineer Jim Preston (Chris Star Lord Pratt).

Jim learns quickly that the Avalon has not reached Homestead II, mostly because he’s the only person to show up at the “Welcome back from Hibernation” seminar at the conference center. Then Jim discovers some horrible truths: his hibernation pod can’t be reactivated, the ship won’t reach its destination for another 90 years which means he will die alone long before the others wake up, and only first class passengers get unlimited bacon in the automated cafeteria!

Without a volleyball to talk to, Jim befriends Arthur (Michael Sheehan) an android who tends bar at a swanky lounge located on the Avalon’s massive promenade.

As a fair man of the bottle I can appreciate Jim and Aurthur’s relationship. There have been times in my life when I was in despair, desperate for some beacon of hope, and a bartender was there to offer me comfort and understanding with a kind word, some sage advice, and a shiny wall of booze. Treasure your bartenders, kids. They are special people.

After a year of moping about the ship, Jim spots pretty Aurora Lane (uber movie star Jennifer Lawrence) fast asleep in her pod. He becomes smitten with the pretty Aurora, an accomplished journalist and writer who would have been way out of his league back on earth.

Desperate to talk to someone other than a robot bartender who doesn’t know a single dirty joke, Jim does something that back on earth would be classified as a “dick move.” He breaks Aurora’s pod and when she wakes up he tells her a ship malfunction did it.

Yeah, the trailer for Passengers didn’t mention that plot twist did it?

Affable Jim is kind of a monster for sentencing poor Aurora to a life sentence alone on the Avalon with him and then lying about it, isn’t he? I bet Aurora is so distraught about the thought of dying alone with the handsome engineer with the washboard abs she doesn’t fall madly in love with him!

Oh wait, she does. Well, he is Star Lord.

Unfortunately Jim and Aurora’s little romance (which involves doing it on every flat surface on the ship; thank God the Aurora is swarming with little Roomba droids that clean everything) is interrupted when Arthur breaks the robot bro code and tells Aurora Jim deliberately sabotaged her pod and lied about it. Needless to say Aurora has an Academy Award actress level conniption fit and breaks things off with Jim, who really hopes Aurora can look past the whole “I ruined your life and then lied about it” thing so they can get back to snuggling in the observation lounge.

Things get even worse when systems start failing all over the Avalon, putting our space lovers and the thousands of sleeping passengers in mortal peril. Can Jim and Aurora put aside their issues and save everyone? More importantly, can they save their relationship, or will they have to work out a joint custody agreement for Arthur?

If you can overlook the whole Jim did something really horrible to an innocent woman thing, Passengers is a pretty interesting movie and a unique love story.

I’ve seen worse movies about the give and take of complicated relationships between a man and a woman:

Before Sunrise. Ghost.  Eraserhead. The Devil’s Rejects. The Human Centipede. My Best Friend’s Wedding….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just The Seven Of Us!

This review may contain spoilers. But you should read it anyway. It’s great. Trust me.

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THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard, Byun-hun Lee

Director: Antione Fuqua

Rating: PG-13 for six gun fun and ‘splosions

Plot: Seven gunslingers are hired to protect a town from a greedy land grabber who really loves grabbing land and killing innocent townspeople.

The Magnificent Seven is a remake of a classic movie which is itself a remake of another movie.

I know, it’s confusing. Allow me to explain, then we’ll both know.

In 1954 acclaimed Japanese film director Akira Kurosowa brought us the acclaimed Japanese film Seven Samurai which starred Toshiro Mifune, an acclaimed Japanese actor and the only man on the planet allowed to wear a man bun.

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Total. Bad. Ass.

In 1960 John Sturges remade Seven Samurai into The Magnificent Seven, with cowboys in place of samurais and guns in place of wicked awesome samurai swords. That movie starred Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, who were also very cool.

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“is that guy wearing a man bun? Yes he is. Is it Toshiro Mifune? No it’s not Toshiro Mifune. Shoot him.”

Without warning the 21st century arrived so it was time for another Magnificent Seven movie. This one is also set in the old west and stars Denzel Washington and some guy named Chris Pratt who was in that movie Passengers which everybody hated.

Okay, he was in Guardians of the Galaxy, which is pretty great.

Jurassic World was okay, I guess.

Passengers bit donkeys.

That means it’s bad. I’m trying to make “bit donkeys” a thing so feel free to use it.

Things are not at all rosy in the mining town of Rose Creek. The nearby gold mine is owned by wealthy lunatic Bartholomew Bogue (an oily Peter Sarsgaard) who treats the miners like slaves and the townspeople like pawns in a chess game where beating and murdering the pawns is how the game is played.

Evil villain Bogue wants the townspeople out of Rose Creek in three weeks, and to prove how serious he is he kills a few who dare to stand up to him, like the husband of Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett). Determined to set things right, Emma sets out to find some gunslingers to stand up Bogue and his army of vicious gunmen.

Luckily Emma heads to the next town over and witnesses ace warrant officer Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) dispatch a bar room full of bad guys with his shiny six shooter. Chisolm is reluctant to help Emma because he’s allergic to suicide missions, but when she mentions the name Bartholomew Bogue he agrees to help with her save Rose Creek.

Hmm. Maybe Chisolm has an old score to settle with Bogue?

Hint: It’s a western. THE HERO ALWAYS HAS A SCORE TO SETTLE WITH SOMEONE.

Chisolm needs some help if he wants to take down Bogue, so on his way to Rose Creek he recruits six more gunslingers to get the job done.

Cowboy Roll Call!

Cocky gambler Faraday (Chris Pratt) who drinks a lot.

Ex Confederate Army sharpshooter Robichaeux (Ethan Hawk) who also drinks a lot.

Asian Billy Rocks (Lee Byung-Hung) who is really good with the knives and the stabbing.

Fugitive desperado Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) who is on Chisolm’s wanted list.

Mountain man Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) who speaks softly and carries a big tomahawk.

Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) A Comanche who rarely speaks and when he does it’s in subtitles.

The seven arrive in Rose Creek and easy dispatch two dozen of Bogue’s men, then tells one survivor to  run and tell Bogue he’s a big stupidhead and nobody likes him.

Figuring that if he doesn’t stop in Santa Fe for their annual Chamber Music Festival, Bogue will return to Rose Creek in seven days with an even bigger army of hired killers. Chisolm and his gunslingers helps the citizens of Rose Creek dig trenches and set explosives to even the odds against the bad guys, and nothing brings neighbors closer together than preparing for a violent and bloody land war.

Bogue and his thugs do return and The Magnificent Seven concludes with a long and explosive gunfight between townspeople and desperado. Bullets fly, lots of guys die, and Rose Creek is reduced to a pile of splintered timber and smoldering ashes. But when the smoke clears, Bogue is vanquished, a couple of people survive to clean things up, and Chisolm rides off into the sunset because good guys always win and Denzel’s name is above the title.

While Denzel, Star Lord, and the rest of the cast look like they had fun playing cowboy, this new version of The Magnificent Seven is an uninspired remake that doesn’t hold a candle to the 1960 classic or the even more classic 1954 version.

And that’s too bad because this high falutin’ city boy loves a good western.

I went out West once. Stayed in Santa Fe for a spell. Yes siree…

They got an annual Chamber Music Festival ya know..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s No Way the Dinosaurs will Escape and Kill Again. Part 4!

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JURASSIC WORLD (2015)

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Vincent D’Onofrio

Plot: Everything is fine and dandy at Jurassic World until a super smart genetically engineered dinosaur  breaks loose and starts eating people. Sorry, no refunds!

Rating: PG-13 for dinosaur violence and icky blood splatter.

Unless you’ve been living in a remote mountain cave without cable and missing a head for the past 23 years, you’ve probably heard of the Jurassic Park film franchise. And if you have been living without a head for that long, congratulations! I hear that’s really hard to do.

Based on the best selling novel by Michael Crichton, the first three Jurassic Park films were mega blockbusters, earning billions of dollars at the box office and scaring the crap out of a generation of children who thought dinosaurs were those cute and cuddly creatures from The Land Before Time film series.

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Thanks a lot, Don Bluth!

The film series was dormant for about 14 years until executive producer Steven Spielberg decided it was time for another chapter in the dino-saga, and Jurassic World came roaring into theaters this summer. This sequel/reboot features a new cast, new park, and a bunch of new dinosaurs who gosh darn just won’t stay in their cages no matter how nicely they are asked!

Picking up 20 years after the events of the first movie, Jurassic World is now a ginormous amusement park on the same island the original  Jurassic Park once stood. Every day thousands of tourists come to Isla Nublar to ride a baby triceratops, watch a giant dinofish eat a tiny shark, and purchase expensive merchandise in one of many Jurassic World souvenir shops.

Billionaire industrialist Simon Masrani (Irrfan Khan) now owns the park and all the dinosaur cloning technology, and is looking for a new attraction that will keep the visitors coming back and spending way too much money for a Venti latte at the Jurassic World Starbucks. I’m not making that up. There is a Starbucks in the park in the movie.

Claire Dearing (Howard), the operations manager of the park shows Masrani their new hybrid “Indonimus Rex,” which is very big, very mean, and just loves killing and eating anything with a pulse.

Meanwhile, raptor expert Owen Grady (Star Lord Chris Pratt) has been training a quartet of raptors to sit, roll over, and stay off the sofa for some reason. Park security chief Hoskins (D’Onofrio) thinks the raptors would make great soldiers once they are trained, but Grady shrugs off such an outrageous suggestion. I mean, it’s not like Vincent D’Onofrio has ever played a treacherous jerk who turns on everyone in the third act before, right?

Anyhoo,  Grady warns Claire that her new pet dinosaur is super dangerous and should not be the next stuffed toy at the Jurassic World gift shop, but before Claire can say “hey, aren’t you that Star Lord guy,” the Indonimus Rex escapes from her escape proof pen and starts killing and eating anything with a pulse.

Claire, Grady, and the rest of the staff try to get the thousands of park guests to safety before the I Rex can make it across the island to where most of the delicious dinosaurs and people are located. To complicate matters Claire’s two nephews are trapped outside the park when their cool hamster ball car is destroyed by the I Rex. As Claire and Grady try to rescue the kids, Hoskins and his security team learns the hard way that genetically engineered dinosaurs don’t liked being told to get back in their cages or no more snausages!

When a swarm of pterodactyls starts carrying off park guests waiting to be evacuated from the island, Grady gathers up his raptor pals and heads out into the jungle to take out the I Rex in a classic man vs dinosaur vs raptor showdown. Spoiler alert: the Starbucks doesn’t survive. Great. Claire is going to be so pissed off!

Like the original Jurassic Park, Jurassic World ends with a multi billion dollar theme park in ruins and lots of innocent bystanders either injured, killed, or eaten. It’s doubtful the park will ever open again (between the lawsuits, the property damage – have you ever tried to clean raptor blood off of concrete?) but since Jurassic World made over a billion and a half dollars at the box office, it’s safe to say we haven’t seen the last of Grady, Claire and all their dinosaur pals.

Maybe they could get Starbucks to sponsor a new park.

Think of the cross promotion!

Caramel Velociraptorccinos!

Mosasaurus Macchiato!

Tazo Rex tea!

Hey Starbucks, if you’re reading this, don’t steal my ideas.

If You Build It, Everything Will Be Awesome!

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THE LEGO MOVIE (2014)

Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, and Will Ferrell

Synopsis: Everything is awesome.

Rating: PG for Lego type violence and brick on brick action.

Every once in a while, a movie comes along that shakes the very foundation of your being and rocks you to your very core.

The Lego Movie is such a movie.

What exactly makes The Lego Movie such an exceptional standout in a sea of lesser movies?

Is it the wonderful visuals? The funny voice work by a very funny cast? The perfect blending of story and humor with a thoughtful message about learning to put down the instruction manual from time to time and follow your own path?

Nope. it’s the Legos.  Every movie should have Legos. And every movie that has been made would be better if it had Legos.

The Hunger Games? Decent movie. The Hunger Games with Legos? Super awesome!

Jaws? Great movie. Jaws with Legos? Boom.

R.I.P.D? You know what, let’s skip that one…

If you haven’t seen The Lego Movie yet, then for Heaven sake screw it together and buy a copy! I mean, here’s a brief synopsis lf this charming tale of fun and adventure:

In the all Lego universe, happy go lucky Emmet (Chris Pratt) happily goes about his life in the city of Bricksburg, getting up early, driving safely, and doing his construction job with a positive attitude and a smile on his face.  One day Emmet catches the pretty and mysterious Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) snooping around the construction site, and while chasing her discovers the mysterious Piece of Resistance, an object that has been prophesized to save the Lego universe.

Now Emmet the ordinary becomes Emmet “The Special,” the being destined to stop the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell) who wants to used his Kragle superweapon to freeze everyone and everything in the universe.

I know what you’re thinking – is Emmet truly “The Special?” Well…maybe. Not quite. Sort of. Not really. But thankfully he has a team of Master Builders in his corner to help guide our goofy but lovable protagonist along to find his courage and train him to become The Special. They are the aforementioned Wyldestyle, the mysterious blind wizard Vitruvious (Morgan Freeman) who offers all kinds of wisdom and advice, and superhero extraordinaire Batman (Will Arnett) who offers no help whatsoever.

Emmet and his pals travel from one amazing Lego world to another, trying to stay one step ahead of Lord Business and his Super Secret Police which is lead by Bad Cop/Good Cop (Liam Neeson), a cop with personality issues. Can Emmet become a Master Builder and put an end to Lord Business’ plans to really mess up Taco Tuesday?

The Lego Movie is a glorious, enjoyable action fantasy with lots of humor and a heartwarming ending.  If you watch this movie and aren’t charmed down to your shorts by this movie, we can no longer be friends.  Seriously, I will un-friend you on the spot if you don’t love this movie. This is what it’s come down to. I am drawing a line in the sand here compadre.

But I wouldn’t worry. You’re going to love The Lego Movie, and we’re going to be friends for a long, long time.  Can I crash at your place for a few weeks?