Category Archives: CURRENT MOVIE REVIEWS

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

MEGAN LEAVEY (2017) – My rating: 9/10

Megan Leavey definitely flew under the radar.  While everyone was busy watching non-existent super heroes, a real true heroine went unnoticed.  This story was so real and sent such a profound message, I think the movie should be re-released just so folks can get a chance to see something of the real world they could really relate to.  We are not mindful enough of our soldiers who fight in harms way so that we can enjoy the freedom that we have.  I can’t say enough about their sacrifices, whether we believe in the war they are fighting or not.  They are following orders.

Megan Leavey was a troublesome young girl who couldn’t seem to do much of anything right.  She was always in some sort of trouble and didn’t get along with her mother, Jackie Leavey (Edie Falco) or her step father.  Her birth father seemed to work all the time so he wasn’t able to be there for her but he did love her and she seemed to return the feelings.  At some point, she had enough of her mother’s abusive, verbal attacks and the sad surroundings she found herself in day by day, so she joined the service.  Megan Leavey is based on the true life story of Marine corporal Megan Leavey who along with her military combat dog, Rex saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq.

When Corporal Megan Leavey (Kate Mara) first joined the Marines, she continued to have problems that almost got her kicked out due to her adolescence ways and immaturity.  Despite everything, she was determined to succeed this time, so she stuck it out and found her snitch.  Based on the true life story of a young Marine corporal whose unique discipline and bond with her military combat dog, saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq. Megan served as a Military Police K9 handler and was paired with military working dog Rex (E168).  Their first deployment was to Fallujah in 2005.  Their second was to Ramadi in 2006, where they were both wounded by an improvised explosive device.  She was awarded the Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medal with a “V” device which denotes heroism in combat.

This story is heartfelt and very well told.  There is so much more to Megan Leavey and I highly recommend you check it out, if you can find it.  It’s not in wide release so it may be a little hard to find but it’s well worth your time and money for a ticket.  If you don’t find it in the theater, rent it when it releases to DVD and Blu-Ray, estimated for September 2017.

 

WONDER WOMAN (2017) – My rating: 8.5/10

I had never seen a Wonder Woman movie or read a Wonder Woman comic book before, so this was my first experience and I have to say it was a pretty good one. It was not what I expected. There were a few plot issues but overall, I welcome Wonder Woman to the fold. The movie is set in 1918 and tells the story of Princess Diana, who grows up on the island of Themyscira, sheltered by her mother and aunt. After an American pilot crashes offshore and is rescued by Diana, life as she knows it changes forever. He tells her about the ongoing World War. She then leaves her home in order to end the conflict, becoming Wonder Woman in the process.

Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) was born and raised on the hidden Amazon island of Themyscira, home to the Amazon race of warrior women, created by the gods of Mount Olympus to protect humankind against the corruption of Ares, the god of war, who slew all his fellow gods.  Zeus, Ares’ father struck down his son after being mortally wounded.  Before Zeus succumbed to his injuries, he left the Amazons a weapon capable of killing his renegade son: the “Godkiller”, which Diana believes to be a ceremonial sword. Queen Hippolyta, (Connie Nielsen) Diana’s mother and queen of the Amazons, believes that Ares will never return therefore disallows Diana from training as a warrior, but Diana and her aunt, General Antiope, (Robin Wright) defy the queen and begin training in secret. Once Hippolya discovers the two, Antiope convinces her to allow Diana’s training to continue.

Captain Steve Trevor, (Chris Pine) a pilot with the American Expeditionary Forces crashes in his plane off the coast of Themyscira. The island is invaded by the landing party of a German cruiser pursuing Steve. Diana, now a young woman, rescues Steve as the Amazons engage and kill all the German sailors, but Diana’s Aunt and General Antiope dies intercepting a German bullet meant for Diana. By using a famous Wonder Woman weapon to interrogate the pilot, (The Lasso of Truth) Steve is forced to reveal that World War I is raging in the outside world, and that he is an Allied spy. He stole a notebook from the Spanish chief chemist Isabel Maru / “Doctor Poison”(Elena Anaya), who is attempting to engineer a deadlier form of mustard gas under the orders of General Erich Ludendorff, (Danny Huston) who is an ambitious and iron fisted-general of the German Army during World War I. Believing Ares is responsible for the war, Diana arms herself with the ceremonial sword and leaves Themyscira with Steve to find and destroy Ares.

After the two arrive in London and deliver Maru’s notebook to Steve’s superiors, including Sir Patrick Morgan, (David Thewlis) who is trying to negotiate an armistice with Germany, the journey begins. Diana translates Maru’s notes and reveals that the Germans plan to release their deadly gas at the war front. Sir Patrick secretly sponsors Steve, Diana and 3 recruits: Sameer, (Saïd Taghmaoui) who is a French Moroccan con-artist and secret agent, marksman Charlie, (Ewen Bremner) a heavy-drinking Scottish former sharpshooter who can no longer shoot due to PTSD from a previous tour of duty and Chief, (Eugene Brave Rock) a Native American smuggler who trades with both sides of the war and knows how to get people across front lines.   Steve becomes Diana’s love interest and they all share a small victory thus taking a group picture, that is presented at the beginning of the movie.

The movie is pretty good up until this point.  Wonder Woman is where she wants to be, realizing her goal to save the world and achieve peace.  I thought it was hilarious watching her perform mack dab in the middle of the WWI as a super being, scantly dressed, jumping over hills, displaying strength unknown to man, yet being treated as normal as any other soldier fighting a war.  She was so out of place, due to the time frame and her gender, plus it was extremely cold — maybe her outfit was heated.  This was the only time I felt things got a little corny.  Overall, I really enjoyed Wonder Woman and look forward to seeing the next sequel.  The rest of the story was decent and I think you will like it as well. Check it out!

 

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES (2017) – My rating: 8.5/10

I am a fierce Johnny Depp fan so I am bias toward his movies. I find there are many fans who share my tilted scales of justice and reasoning everywhere. I’m not ashamed nor do I apologize for my lopsided analysis of Johnny Depp’s never ending Caribbean flicks. I do, however notice his days of spry movement and quick witted youthful eager and insightful nonsense is slowing down considerably. Well what would one expect at the age of 54 trying to pass somewhere between very young and very, very young. I myself having been bitten by the old age bug can testify to the change in body, if not yet in mind. It all catches up to each other eventually. Dead Men Tell No Tales is a prime example of the struggle between mind and body trying to settle on how old am I really? It’s probably time to stop while things are still looking pretty good.

Jack Sparrow is up to his old tricks once again, plundering, robbing, making fast witty jokes and sexing those who will allow him, married or not. Dead Men Tell No Tales opens up with 12-year old Henry Turner (Lewis McGowan) trying to warn his father Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) that the mythical Trident of Poseidon is able to break his curse and free him from his ship, The Flying Dutchman. Of course Will does not believe such a ship exists and demands Henry leave his ship, never to return. Nine years later, Henry finds himself working on a British Royal Navy Warship that has just been attacked by undead sailors, led by Captain Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem) and his ghost crew. Everyone is killed except Henry who is left to give Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) a message from Captain Salazar, and so the journey begins. Aside from the message he carries, Henry also needs Jack to help him find the Trident of Poseidon. Meanwhile, in Saint Martin, a beautiful young woman named Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) has been sentenced to death for witchcraft because of her knowledge of astronomy and horology. She escapes, runs into Henry, meets Jack Sparrow and gets recaptured by the British Army along with Jack. They are both sentenced to death but are rescued by Henry. After much discussion, they decide to follow their respective dreams to find the Trident and conquer Captain Salazar and his crew, reverse Will’s curse, and get back many other dreams gone astray. Jack and crew end up on an island where he meets up with Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), former owner of the Black Pearl, who decides to help Jack and breaks the Black Pearl out of it’s captive bottle, restoring it to it’s original size and glory among other things.

From this point, many more exciting events take place. Of course I’ve told you all the spoilers I could without giving it all away. I understand Dead Men Tell No Tales will be the last of the Pirate series and I think they have gone out with a very good one. If you haven’t seen it already, check this one out. The humor is really good and the story makes a lot of sense. Even though I love, love, love Johnny Depp, I recognize this last sequel as being a worthy one, for real.

 

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KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD (2017) – My rating: 8/10

I was pleasantly surprised when King Arthur: Legend of the Sword turned out to be a pretty descent movie.  Lots of noise and lots of fuss over a legendary fictional sword that been planted permanently into the ground for decades.  The story is a legend we’ve heard before but is always fun to revisit.  While this was not the best remake I’ve seen, it was one of the better movies being featured at this time.

Mordred, (Rob Knighton) who is a warlock has an army that he plans to use in order to defeat Camelot, thereby ruling over all of mankind while wielding his magic and power with an iron fist.  His plans were foiled only by his beheading thanks to Uther Pendragon, (Eric Bana) thus saving Camelot.  But wait, Uther has a ruthless, evil brother, Vortigern (Jude Law) who continues Mordred’s plan of a take over of Camelot, killing Uther and his wife.  However, in all the killing and excitement, he overlooks Uther’s baby son who is saved because he was hidden in a small boat and drifted down stream where he was found and raised by prostitutes in Londinium and renamed Arthur.

Arthur, Charlie Hunnam grew up as a commoner of the streets, well known and well liked.  He is also quite skilled as a fighter as has 2 best friends, Sir Tristan “Wet Stick” (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and Backlack (Neil Maskell), as well as a mentor who is also a highly skilled fighter, Sir George, (Tom Wu).  Of course Arthur has no knowledge of his true lineage and when forced along with other men of his age to try and pull the magic sword from its current resting place, he protested despite successfully retrieving the sword.  To help Arthur, who is now in grave danger, is The Mage, (Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey) a woman identified as an acolyte who works for Merlin and supports Arthur as well the resistance, which is lead by Sir Bedivere, (Djimon Hounsou) a former knight of Uther’s.

If you’re familiar with the story, you know that the sword holds special powers and ensures that the owner will rule the land but first he must be able to pull the sword from it’s resting place, which no one, until now, has been able to do since the only one who can, is the true royal heir to the throne.

I found this version, directed by Guy Ritchie, to have been exiting and well acted.  I was thoroughly entertained and especially loved watching Djimon Hounsou who I’ve always thought of as “eye candy” run around fighting and flexing his muscles.  Also, the special effects were spectacular, especially the sea witches who were a mass of several women.  If you’re looking for a descent movie, check out King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

 

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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (2017) – My rating: 9/10

What can I say about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — history is repeating itself.  It’s even better than the first one, a different story, still a quality film.  Good humor, good plot, fantastic special effects, brilliant acting, awesome costumes, great makeup and great directing.  What else do you need.  I truly enjoyed this second sequel.

The Guardians of the Galaxy consist of: Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax  The Destroyer (Dave Bautista), voice of Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a genetically modified raccoon bounty hunter and mercenary who is also a master of weapons and military tactics, Voice of Baby Groot (Vin Diesel), a tree-like humanoid who began growing from a sapling at the end of the first film and is Rocket’s accomplice.   Vol. 2 opens with The Guardians of the Galaxy battling an inter-dimensional monster for Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki), the golden High Priestess and leader of the Sovereign people, (a genetically engineered race who are “gold and perfect and wanting to be physically and mentally impeccable”) in exchange for Nebula (Karen Gillan), Gamora’s estranged, adopted sister who was captured while attempting to steal valuable batteries from Ayesha and her people.  The Guardians no sooner leave Ayesha before being attacked by a fleet of Sovereign drones because Rocket has stolen some of the batteries for himself.  The drones are mysteriously destroyed but the Guardians are forced to crash land on a nearby planet.  The mysterious attacker reveals himself to the Guardians as Ego (Kurt Russell), Peter’s father.

At this point the story begins to take shape.  We learn about the characters and their missions and many more are introduced and so the plot thickens.  We have a father who is meeting his son for the first time, and a son who never knew his father existed.  We also have sisters who have no love for each other, in fact one wants the other dead along with their father.  There is also Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker), a blue-skinned buccaneer who is the leader of the Ravagers and also the father figure who raised Peter Quill as well as a member of the Guardians along with Kraglin (Sean Gunn), Yondu’s loyalist.  If that isn’t enough, there’s Ego’s pet empath, Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Taserface (Chris Sullivan) leader of a mutinous group of the Ravagers and the dumbest of all characters in the film. Lastly, another character introduced in Vol 2 is Stakar Ogord/Starhawk (Sylvester Stallone) a high-ranking Ravager who has an intense history with Yondu, a kind of father/son type of thing, according to Stallone.

A little about Peter Quill:
He is a Half-human, half-Celestial leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy and was abducted from Earth as a child, raised by a group of alien thieves and smugglers called the Ravagers and is now famous throughout the galaxy for having saved many people.

A little about Ego, Peter’s father:
Ego explains he is a god-like Celestial, an immortal consciousness that manipulated the matter around it to form the planet with itself at the core. Forming a human guise, he traveled the universe to escape his loneliness and discover a purpose, eventually falling in love with Quill’s mother, Meredith. Ego hired Yondu to deliver Quill after his mother’s death, but he was never showed up and Ego had been searching for him ever since.

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is quite entertaining and well worth seeing on the big screen.  I am happy to see Zoe Saldana’s character, Gamora being developed a little more. She seemed unfeeling and appeared to have an  angry attitude most of the time. In Vol. 2, she has warmed up a little and comes off a little more human. Hollywood has a tendency to drag out demolition and fight scenes as well as car chases, so you may find a couple of those drawn out scenes in Vol. 2, other than that, I think you’re in for a real treat!

 

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GIFTED (2017) – My rating: 8/10

Gifted is a heartfelt story about a seven year old who is a mathematical genius.  When someone tells you that, you tend to think algebra, geometry, calculus, trigonometry and maybe algorithms as the child gets older.  Gifted went into areas of mathematics way beyond the average.  I wondered if a child’s brain could truly be capable of handling some of the problems mentioned in the movie.  I found it remarkable that a child’s mind could actually process math as advanced as that.  Their living situation was somewhat unique, complete with an over zealous grandmother who is full of tricks and a dead mother, made for an interesting, suspenseful film with a most adorable child.

After much debate, Mary Adler (Mckenna Grace) starts first grade at a normal school, just outside of Tampa, despite her obvious mathematical genius.  She had already mastered advanced calculus, which her teacher, Bonnie Stevenson, (Jenny Slate) soon discovered. Mary is offered a scholarship to a private school for gifted children. However, her uncle and de facto guardian, Frank Adler, (Chris Evans) turns it down. According to a promise he made to his sister Diane and his knowledge of schools for the gifted, he thought Mary would have a better chance at a “normal” childhood if she stayed right where she was.

Mary’s mother, Diane had been a promising mathematician, dedicated to the Navier–Stokes problem (one of the unsolved Millennium Prize Problems) before committing suicide when Mary was six months old. Mary has lived with Frank ever since. However, Frank’s estranged mother and Mary’s maternal-grandmother, Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) seeks to gain custody of Mary and move her to Massachusetts, believing that Mary is a “one-in-a-billion” mathematical prodigy who should be specially tutored in preparation for a life devoted to mathematics. Frank remains adamant that his sister would want Mary to be in a normal public school and have the childhood she didn’t have. Frank hires a lawyer, Greg Cullen (Glenn Plummer) to fight against his mother in court. Here we learn family secrets and get to see the real character behind the players.  Frank and Mary enjoy a close family relationship with Roberta Taylor, (Octavia Spencer) who is also their landlady and Mary’s part-time caregiver.

From this point on, we see some interesting turns and wonder where Mary should end up.  I found Gifted to be enlightening, interesting and delightful.  Gifted is very well acted (a star is born in Mckenna Grace) and a good family movie.  Check it out!

 

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GOING IN STYLE (2017) – My rating: 7/10

Going in Style is a 1979 remake of a totally unrealistic answer to a realistic problem in today’s society. Too bad we couldn’t all be clever enough to pull off a guilt free bank heist, (just kidding). Going in Style is also a delightful,  humorous story of three senior citizens who are lifelong best buddies who are getting the shaft every where they turn. Living off their less than modest pensions, in situations that afford them little to no extras in life, they are now faced with the company they worked for all their lives being bought out, causing their pensions to become a thing of the past.  Ironically, an unusual incident at the very bank that’s threatening to take what little they have, becomes the very solution to a peaceful, happy existence for these 3 old geysers and their families.

Joe Harding (Michael Caine) has a small house in which his divorced daughter, Rachael Harding (Maria Dizzia) and his granddaughter, Brooklyn, (Joey King) are living in with him.  Joe has been receiving pink foreclosure notices from the bank and will have 30 days from the forthcoming red foreclosure notice that will render them homeless. Despite Joe’s x son-in law’s, Murphy (Peter Serafinowicz), estrangement from his family, Joe attempts to get Murphy involved in his daughter’s life.  Willie (Morgan Freeman) and Albert (Alan Arkin) live together, directly across the street from Joe. All three belong to the usual community clubs for the elderly and do the usual senior citizen activities like food shopping, frequenting the park, eating at the senior citizen shelter and for Willie, Skyping with his daughter, Cary Sachs (Melanie Nicholls-King) and granddaughter, Kanika (Ashley Aufderheide) who he seldom gets to see because of the long distance between them and his financial situation. Willie also learns that he is in need of a Kidney and should confide in friends or family members to get one asap or prepare for his funeral. In the meanwhile, Albert is having a much easier time at life being pursued by Annie, (Ann-Margret) a beautiful senior worker at the super market where he shops.

As Joe tries to deal with his foreclosure notice at the bank, he becomes a victim and a witness to a robbery in progress, carried out by three individuals wearing black masks. When, the robbers manage to escape with over 1.5 million dollars, Joe decides this might be a way out for the three seniors.  Of course the bank was no help to Joe regarding his foreclosure notice and any chance of getting their pensions reinstated was never going to happen, as they later learned the bank intended to steal their retirement.  Did I mention this plot was unrealistic but still fun to watch.  Here are some other actors and actresses that are definitely an excellent reason to see Going in Style:  Matt Dillon as Special Agent Hamer, an FBI agent who investigates bank robberies,  Christopher Lloyd as Milton, the guys’ lodge buddy, Annabelle Chow as Lucy, the child witness, Kenan Thompson as Keith, a grocery store manager, Siobhan Fallon Hogan as Mitzi and John Ortiz as Jesus, a man of unspecified credentials who agrees to show the guys the ropes.  Well done — no need to pick this one apart — just enjoy it for what it is, entertaining and funny!