Category Archives: CURRENT MOVIE REVIEWS

Hope you enjoy my movie reviews which reflect my opinion of the many movies I’ve enjoyed or not!

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (2018) – My rating: 8.5/10

Ant-Man and the Wasp is categorized as a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics characters Scott Lang / Ant-Man and Hope van Dyne / Wasp. Produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, it is the sequel to 2015’s Ant-Man, and the twentieth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Peyton Reed and written by the writing teams of Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers, and Paul Rudd, Andrew Barrer, and Gabriel Ferrari. Ant-Man and the Wasp focuses on retrieving Janet van Dyne from the quantum realm.  I truly liked the original film, Ant-Man, so I was psyched about seeing the Wasp officially added to the series.  I only have good things to say about Ant-Man and the Wasp — it was fun!

ANT-MAN (1987)
Janet van Dyne / Wasp (Michelle Pfeiffer) shrinks between the molecules of a Soviet nuclear missile, successfully disabling it but becoming trapped in the sub-atomic quantum realm for 30 years. Her husband, Hank Pym / Ant-Man (Michael Douglas) raises their daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), by himself, believing that Janet is dead. Years later, former criminal Scott Lang / Ant Man (Paul Rudd) takes up the mantle of Ant-Man and discovers a way to both enter and return from the quantum realm. Pym and Hope begin work on repeating this feat, believing they may find Janet alive. Lang and Hope also start a romantic relationship and begin training to fight together as Ant-Man and the Wasp, until Lang secretly helps Captain America during a skirmish between the Avengers in violation of the Sokovia Accords. Lang is placed under house arrest, while Pym and Hope go into hiding and cut ties with Lang.

— SPOILERS BELOW — 

ANT-MAN AND THE WASP – (2018)
Two years later, Pym and Hope briefly manage to open a tunnel to the quantum realm. However, Lang receives an apparent message from Janet with whom he is quantumly entangled. Despite only having a few days left of house arrest, Lang decides to call Pym and share the message. Hope kidnaps Lang, leaving a decoy so as not to arouse suspicion from FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park). Seeing the message as confirmation that Janet is alive, Pym and Hope work to create a stable tunnel so they can take a vehicle to the quantum realm and retrieve Janet. Hope arranges to buy a part needed for the tunnel from black market dealer Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins), but Sonny realizes the potential profit that can be earned from Pym and Hope’s research and double-crosses them. Hope fights Burch and his men off, until she is attacked by a quantumly unstable masked woman, Ava Starr / Ghost  (Hannah John-Kamen). Lang tries to help fight off this “ghost”, but she escapes with Pym’s portable lab, causing Pym to reluctantly visits his estranged former partner Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne) for help locating the lab.

From this point, the adventure goes to unimaginable places.  The special effects are fantastic as well as the performance of each actor.  The plot is also excellent, as there are several stories happening at once.  The twist and turns are great and will have you on the edge of your seat.  Overall, I really enjoyed Ant-Man and the Wasp.  Although it was technical most of the ride, it was understandable.  This movie is appropriate for all ages and is well worth your time and money to see it.  3D is nice but not necessary to enjoy the film.

 

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LIFE OF THE PARTY (2018) – My rating: 7.5/10

Life of the Party is a comedy directed by Ben Falcone and written by Falcone and Melissa McCarthy. It is the third film directed by Falcone and co-written by the pair, following Tammy (2014) and The Boss (2016). While I love Melissa McCarthy, I don’t think her last couple of movies were that great — hence, I was reluctant to see this one. However, not one to abandon a great talent like Melissa, I ventured out and invested my time and money to see Life of the Party. At the end of this review, I will tell you if I made a wise decision or not.

Life of the Party opens with Deanna Miles (Melissa McCarthy) going with her husband Dan (Matt Walsh) to drop off their daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon), to her senior year at Decatur University in Atlanta, GA. Before they get started for home, Dan tells Deanna he wants a divorce and has fallen in love with someone else. To make things worse, he is selling their house since everything is under his name, causing Deanna to have to move out. Deanna goes to her parents home, Mike (Stephen Root) and Sandy (Jacki Weaver). Their opinion; Dan was always a jerk for making Deanna drop out of her last year of college when she got pregnant, as well as making her put up with his overbearing ways, during their marriage.

While playing Racquetball with her best friend Christine (Maya Rudolph),  Deanna reflects on her life, then decides that she won’t just sit around and let her X ruin it.   Deanna announces to Maddie while on a surprise visit to her dorm, that she and Dan are divorcing.  Additionally, Deanna has decided to attend Decatur for a year in order to graduate, earning a degree in archaeology.  Maddie introduces Deanna to her friends – Amanda (Adria Arjona), neurotic Debbie (Jessie Ennis), and Helen (Gillian Jacobs), who was in a coma for eight years and is now getting a chance to go to college as well. Deanna later meets her roommate Leonor (Heidi Gardner), who is agoraphobic and chronically depressed.  One of Deanna’s classes is in archaeology and her professor is a former classmate from back in the day. As in most schools, there are bullies, in this case a “mean girl” Jennifer (Debby Ryan) and her friend Trina (Yani Simone) fits the bill. Deanna later goes to sign divorce papers, taking Christine with her when Dan shows up with his new fiancée, Marcie (Julie Bowen). They exchange a lot of insults through the mediator.
Maddie takes Deanna to hang out with her and her friends. After being mocked by Jennifer again, Maddie gives her mom a makeover so that she can look more party-ready. Deanna meets Maddie’s boyfriend, Tyler (Jimmy O. Yang) and another boy named Jack (Luke Benward). After many shots and beers, Deanna and Maddie wake up the next morning mortified to see each other leaving a frat house doing the “walk of shame”, which leads Maddie to realize Deanna slept with Jack who starts to constantly text Deanna since he has basically fallen in love with her.

From this point, Life of the Party takes on an adventurous turn with both Deana and Maddie discovering who they are in this space and time.  Interaction with the “mean girl” & company, new boyfriends and Dan’s wedding prove to be pretty funny.  Out of the last 2 movies, Melissa McCarthy has starred in, Life of the Party is a vast improvement.  The jokes were very funny but the story didn’t make a lot of sense.  I’m not sure how you can be married to someone long enough to have a senior college aged child and not be entitled to half of all assets.  While I’m not a lawyer, I do know they were not rich and did not have a prenuptial, so I’m not sure how Dan got away with owning the house all to himself.  As far as boyfriends go, Deanna and Jack made absolutely no sense.  The movie, however was still funny and relaxing, which is a blessing now-a-days!  I would however, wait for the DVD/Blu-Ray.  Life of the Party was not a total waste of time, as I was entertained.

 

RAMPAGE (2018) – My rating: 6.5/10

Rampage is a science fiction movie directed by Brad Peyton, and is loosely based on the video game series of the same name by Midway Games.  It is the third collaboration between Peyton and Johnson, following Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) and San Andreas (2015).  I really didn’t expect much from this film — the trailers looked like a children’s movie as well as the same old thing we’ve come to ignore.  I have much to say about Rampage and  it isn’t all good. Basically, Rampage is about a primatologist who must team up with an albino gorilla to stop two other animals from destroying Chicago.

Rampage starts with Athena-1, a research space station owned by a gene manipulation company called Energyne, which is destroyed after a laboratory rat mutates and wreaks havoc. Dr. Kerry Atkins (Marley Shelton), the lone surviving crew member, is ordered by CEO Claire Wyden (Malin Akerman), to retrieve research canisters containing a pathogen.  The escape pod eventually imploded, causing debris to spread across various locations in the US; a canister in the Everglades is consumed by an American crocodile as well as exposure of a pathogen to a gray wolf in a forest in Wyoming.

Primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson), a former US Army Special Forces soldier and member of an anti-poaching unit, works at the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary, a wildlife preserve. He befriends a rare albino gorilla named George, whom he saved from poachers. Davis communicates with George using sign language and gestures, and George shows Davis that he has a sense of humor. At night, one of the canisters crash-lands in George’s habitat, exposing him to the pathogen.  George grows considerably larger and more aggressive over a short time. Davis is contacted by Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris), a genetic engineer, who explains that the pathogen was developed by Energyne to rewrite genes on a massive scale.

Dr. Caldwell was hoping to advance CRISPR research as a potential cure for disease but discovered that Energyne planned to use it as a biological weapon. Meanwhile, Claire and her brother, Brett (Jake Lacy), fired Dr. Caldwell and sent her to prison on false charges for attempting to expose them.  The exposed animals go on a

I think you get the gest of this film, as I am stopping here to talk a little about the quality of Rampage.  The plot is simple and lends itself to a younger audience but the acting was seriously flawed.  Claire and her brother Brett tried hard but just couldn’t pull off the whole villain thing.  Their lines were so corny that I felt as though I watching a Saturday morning adventure project for kids.  The special effects were pretty descent but not the best I’ve seen.  Adding to the corny dialogue was their attempt to come off gangster like, which they never pulled off.  Also, there are some questions about the logic or lack of.  Dwayne Johnson is making movies so fast, that I’m afraid he’s going to acquire a rep for grade B films with bad acting.  I’m truly a fan but lately, I’ve been disappointed with “The Rock” and Disney.  The mutated animals reek havoc, making Rampage somewhat exciting but ridiculous.  See this one on DVD/Blu-Ray, you’ll probably be happier with your choice.

 

MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE (2018) – My rating 8.7/10

Maze Runner: The Death Cure is a dystopian science fiction action film directed by Wes Ball and written by T.S. Nowlin, based on the novel, The Death Cure written by James Dashner. It is the sequel to the 2015 film Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials and the third and final installment in the Maze Runner film series.  In my opinion this final sequel was the best of the trilogy and was easiest to follow.  I was sort of tired of trilogies but after seeing Maze Runner: The Death Cure, I am newly motivated.

— some SPOILERS BELOW — 

The film opens with Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Newt (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), and Frypan (Dexter Darden) who are the last of the free “Gladers” and who are immune to the Flare virus that has ravaged the world’s population. They and The Right Arm resistance conduct a rescue operation where they retrieve other Immunes from a train, owned by WCKD, an organization responsible for capturing and experimenting on immune children. They thought they were recusing Minho (Ki Hong Lee) as well as the other children but their remaining Glader friend, whom WCKD had captured, was not on the train, which is headed to “The Last City”, WCKD’s base of operations.

Against the orders of Vince (Barry Pepper), leader of The Right Arm, the three leave their camp to rescue Minho, who is being tortured by WCKD in hopes of developing a cure for the virus. Heading for the Last City, the group is attacked by Cranks, humans infected with the Flare. However, they are saved by Jorge (Giancarlo Esposito) and Brenda (Rosa Salazar), who join them. The group makes it to the wall of the Last City, which protects those within the city walls from Cranks. Outside the wall, people are rallying in protest to be let into the city. When WCKD opens fire at the protesters, the group is captured by a contingent of masked men and taken to a hideout. Gally (Will Poulter), who survived Minho’s attack during The Scorch Trials, is among the masked men. Gally takes them to see Lawrence (Walton Goggins), a rebellion leader for those outside the walls, who helps them enter the Last City through a secret entrance. Gally leads Thomas and Newt through to the city where they spot Teresa (Kaya Scodelario), Vince’s former girlfriend.   Gally informs Thomas that he can get them into WCKD headquarters.

I really enjoyed this version of Maze Runner.  Their adventure into WCKD’s city and who and what they encounter was exciting.  The plot to stop WCKD once and for all definitely thickens and leads to many exciting twist.  The acting was brilliant and the special effects were terrific.  Some scenes were so spectacular, I was on the edge of my seat.  I recommend you see this final sequel, as it makes the entire series worth while.  Maze Runner: The Death Cure is now on DVD and Blu-Ray — Check it out!

 

UNCLE DREW (20180 – My rating: 8.5/10

Uncle Drew is a sports comedy directed by Charles Stone III and written by Jay Longino. Being that I’m not a lover of comedies, I didn’t know what to expect of Uncle Drew. All I can say is, I’m glad went to see it. To my surprise, a 5:05pm showing on a Tuesday, only had the 2 front rows available. I’ve changed my opinion of animated films and I think I will have to change my opinion of comedies. Keep reading to find out what all the fuss is about.

Uncle Drew is a basketball legend, especially in his neighborhood. Years ago, he was supposed to play at the Rucker Classic with his team, but due to an (unknown to everyone else) conflict, he and his team broke up and disappeared the night before the competition. He seemed to have disappeared, as no one had heard from him since that night of the Rucker Classic.

—  SLIGHT SPOILERS BELOW  —

Currently, Dax (Ashton Tyler) is an underappreciated coach of a team called Harlem’s Money. Broke and disillusioned with the condition of his current team, Dax also has a longstanding rivalry with Mookie (Nick Kroll). Mookie is a great basketball player and on a winning team. He also has a lot of mouth, as he steals Dax’s star player, Casper Jones (Aaron Gordon) and Dax’s girlfriend, Jess (Tiffany Haddish), who kicks him out of her apartment, leaving Dax homeless as well as broke.

An older neighborhood acquaintance, Angelo (J.B. Smoove) who hangs out in the barbershop, suggest that Dax try to find and meet Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving), after he is turned down by all the players he approached. Sad and bewildered, Dax oddly gets to see Uncle Drew play in the park. Drew turns out to be an exceptional basketball player, despite his age, so Dax approaches him and convinces Uncle Drew to join his team. However, there’s a condition. Uncle Drew wants his own team which consist of Preacher (Chris Webber), who has a wife, Betty Lou (Lisa Leslie) and a ministry, Boots (Nate Robinson) who’s in a wheel chair and in a nursing home under his granddaughter’s care Maya (Erica Ash), Big Fella (Shaquille O’Neal) who is enormous and teaches a karate class and Lights (Reggie Miller) who is partially blind.

To see where this all leads is hilarious.  Dax and Uncle Drew begin an adventure that will have you laughing the whole time.  Uncle Drew is utterly ridiculous but fun despite it’s craziness.  This movie is a delightful fantasy that will take you away from all the stressful politics, and negativity of the day.  I highly recommend it.  Everyone clapped when the movie ended — that’s always a good sign.  Check it out!

 

JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (2018) – My rating: 8/10

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a science fiction film and the sequel to Jurassic World (2015). Directed by J. A. Bayona, it is the fifth installment of the Jurassic Park film series, as well as the second installment of a planned Jurassic World trilogy.  While I wasn’t thrilled about another Jurassic anything movie, I forced myself to see this one so I would have something to write about.  I felt along with other critics that Jurassic World has run it’s course.  Despite negative critiques, it turned out to be pretty good — as this summer’s movies have not been that impressive.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is set on the fictional Central American island of Isla Nublar, off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, 6 months after the theme park incident.  A small team of mercenaries arrives on the abandoned island to collect DNA from the remains of the Indominus rex, which lie at the bottom of the park’s lagoon. After successfully collecting a bone fragment, the team barely escape the park’s Mosasaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex. During the emergency evacuation, the lagoon gate is inadvertently left open, allowing the Mosasaurus to escape into the ocean.

Three years after the Jurassic World incident, a U.S. Senate hearing in Washington, D.C. debates whether Isla Nublar’s dinosaurs should be saved from an impending volcanic eruption. Mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) testifies that the dinosaurs should be allowed to perish to correct John Hammond’s mistake of cloning them long ago. Meanwhile, Jurassic World’s former operations manager, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), has created the Dinosaur Protection Group to save the animals. When the Senate rules against their rescue, Claire is contacted by Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), Hammond’s former partner.

Soon after, Claire meets Lockwood and his aide, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), at his Northern California estate. They reveal a plan to relocate the dinosaurs to a new island sanctuary. Claire recruits Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), Jurassic World’s former Velociraptor trainer, for the mission after Mills expresses concerns about locating Blue, the last living Velociraptor.

—  SLIGHT SPOILERS below  —

The rescue group arrives on Isla Nublar and meets Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine), the mercenary commander. Claire and former park technician, Franklin Webb (Justice Smith), reactivate the park’s dinosaur trackers, while Owen, paleo-veterinarian Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda), Wheatley and other mercenaries search for Blue. Upon finding her, the encounter escalates and leads to a mercenary shooting Blue and Wheatley tranquilizing Owen. Zia works to keep Blue alive while Owen is left behind. After surviving a Baryonyx attack, Claire and Franklin reunite with Owen as the volcano threatens to erupt. They flee from the pyroclastic flow, then sneak aboard the mercenaries’ ship, where they find Zia with Blue. The ship, filled with captured dinosaurs, departs for the U.S. mainland.

At Lockwood’s estate, Lockwood’s orphaned, pre-teen granddaughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon) overhears Mills and auctioneer Gunnar Eversol (Toby Jones) secretly planning something unprecedented, concerning the captured dinosaurs. They also discuss unveiling the Indoraptor, a new genetically-engineered dinosaur created by geneticist Dr. Henry Wu (B. D. Wong).

Overall, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was entertaining and the special effects were fantastic.  I won’t say anything about how the movie ended — I’ll leave that for the next sequel, if there is one.  As movies go, you wouldn’t be wasting you time or money by seeing this one.  Check it out!

 

OCEAN’S 8 (2018) – My rating: 7/10

Ocean’s 8 (stylized onscreen as Ocean’s Eight) is a comedy directed by Gary Ross and written by Ross and Olivia Milch. The film is a spin-off from Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy and features an ensemble cast.  Ocean’s 8 follows a group of women, led by Debbie Ocean, who plan on robbing a very expensive necklace, after serving time for a crime she actually didn’t commit.

 

**** THIS PLOT HAS SOME SPOILERS **** 

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), the younger sister of the late Danny Ocean (character from the previous Oceans 11 through 13), spends five years, eight months and twelve days in prison planning a heist. Debbie convinces her partner-in-crime and friend Lou (Cate Blanchett) to join forces with her while she proceeds to recruit a jewelry maker,  Amita (Mindy Kaling), a profiteer, Tammy (Sarah Paulson), a street hustler, Constance (Awkwafina), a computer cracker, Leslie a.k.a. Nine Ball (Rihanna), and a fashion designer, Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter). The film reveals in a flashback that Debbie’s ex-lover, Claude Becker (Richard Armitage), had involved her in a fraudulent scheme, then testified against her, which resulted in the 5+ years prison sentence she served. However, unbeknownst to Becker and as payback, Debbie chooses him to be the scapegoat for the plot to steal the Toussaint, a $150 million necklace to be worn by Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway), at New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala.

Cast who appeared in a reprised, cameo role:
Dakota Fanning cameos as Penelope Stern
Elliott Gould reprises his role as Reuben Tishkoff
Shaobo Qin reprise his roles as  “The Amazing” Yen
Marlo Thomas, Dana Ivey, Mary Louise Wilson and Elizabeth Ashley cameos as actresses who help the crew shift their stolen gems.

These celebrities make cameo appearances as themselves:
Anna Wintour, Zayn Malik, Katie Holmes, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Kim Kardashian, Adriana Lima, Kylie Jenner, Alexander Wang, Nina Cuso, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Lily Aldridge, Olivia Munn, Zac Posen, Hailey Baldwin, Derek Blasberg, Heidi Klum and Lauren Santo Domingo.

I didn’t know what to expect from this movie but I have now formed an opinion that Ocean’s 8 was somewhat entertaining and somewhat boring and very unbelievable.  While the premise was okay, the overall execution was ridiculous and sloppy.  I think this film could have been thought out better before presenting it, especially to the Ocean’s trilogy fans.  Speaking of presentation, I thought Cate Blanchett looked fabulously beautiful, I hardly recognized her.  That’s not to say she isn’t beautiful all the time, it’s just to say she was especially beautiful in Ocean’s 8.  My recommendation is to wait for the DVD.  It’ll be an enjoyable night of watching movies at best!