50 Shades Freed Review

I have not seen the first two or however many movies are in this series and I thank god I have not after seeing this abomination of a movie. The two lead actors should be ashamed for accepting these roles. The movie alternates between completely unbelievable plot points and dialogue that was written by a third grader with a loose grasp on human interaction. Oh yeah it also includes some sex scenes that would be considered kinky or racy if you didn’t have access to any device with wifi and the internet, you can find sexier stuff by accident. I would be concerned about the message of submission, etc. that this movie sends to impressionable young girls, if I thought anyone would actually watch it. Nothing redeeming about this movie. Literally nothing.

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The Vault- Quick Review

Haunted bank vault. Cliche jump scares and horrid acting combine to make this a movie you should probably avoid. Maybe on a night that you have re-watched 10 episodes of The Office, you should turn this movie on and then promptly shut it off after 5 minutes when you decide sleeping is a better option. Wasted effort from Taryn Manning trying to salvage a plot that is so convoluted that it is painful to experience it unfold. All of the acting is made laughable because you A. cant believe somebody was paid to make this movie B. James Franco is in it. Seriously he is. James Franco is in a glorified haunted house movie which only twist on the concept is that it takes place in a bank. The haunted concept is tired  and if you are still awake when the twist ending comes you will barely flutter an eyelash because it’s as seemingly slapped together as the rest of the movie. Don’t waste your time on this movie. Shame on you James Franco, shame on you.

Bright- Review

Great concept, sub-par execution lead to an overall disappointing experience. This is a movie combining gritty cop drama with the fantastical realm of fantasy complete with fairies, elves, and orcs. You know a perfect way to fuck this obviously superb concept up? Make the movie one huge racial metaphor that plays off of already terrible stereotypes that people hold in their head and basically make it exactly like the world is today. What ever happened to a little escapism fantasy? If I wanted to see people treat each other terribly because of traits completely out of their control, I would just turn on the news, or go to my local super market. What “Bright” does is to just add some more races of people with overtly obvious differences into the mix and recreate the world as we know it. An example, we get a passing mention of NFL teams only using Orcs on their dline. Everybody in the room accepts this because it is part of the world of “Bright” which is great. But. Oh my god is that something I would have loved to see. An Orc d-line? Is it just an absolute bloodbath? How many people die every year? Do Orcs get concussions? How do Orc vs. human collisions even work? So may questions, no answers. So many great avenues to be explored and instead we get a pretty straight forward cop drama with the plot driver of a magic wand. The wand is inconsequential,just like the elves, and just like every element of fantasy in the movie. Replace the wand with money or really anything , replace orcs with just regular gangsters, replace elves with regular rich people, and the movie does not change. You don’t magically become a well crafted movie by hamfistedly shoving in racial relations metaphors that even the dullest of viewers can correlate to the real world.  In today’s climate it is easy to try and stir up press and controversy with race, “Bright” chose the lowest common denominator and made it the baseline of its plot. Its cheap and its an attempt to generate critical acclaim for a sub par movie off of pure controversy. This movie could have been fun, instead it takes itself and its in your face racial hierarchy too seriously. The people in Bright’s world have not stop hating based on characteristics, they simply shifted to a different demographic which caused racial harmony.

No need to discuss plot. It has several moments where you will try to figure out if somebody recorded half of “Training Day” and half of “End of Watch” and then you’ll just realize it blatantly stole scene concepts from them. Specifically a scene about performing good deeds earlier in them movie for no other reason than being a good person and having that good deed effect events later in an unforeseen way ( Again, this would be unforeseen if you had never seen Training Day). Wand is the driving factor, some people can hold it, some can’t, Will Smith and Joel Edgerton are reluctant partners. Boom plot summarized.

Will Smith, seriously, what the fuck. Will Smith used to be hilarious and great with delivery. I am talking Men in Black, Hancock, Hitch, I, Robot, Bad Boys, Independence Day, even Fresh Prince. Will Smith was great in all of these movies, some of which you may have noticed aren’t even generally considered to be good. Will Smith’s off the cuff jokes and tendency to pause to deliver a joke came off as genuine and were hilarious. He drags the table over (accompanied by a massive screech) in Men in Black and then genuinely asks one of the military types in the room if he “wants to get in on this. ” It is hilarious and it seems like genuinely something Will Smith would do. There is one shared characteristic of all of these movies, they are before “Pursuit of Happyness” was released(Cept’ Hancock). After this highly over rated, but genuinely good tear jerker, we just had to convince Will Smith he was a good actor. I am guilty of it to, I genuinely have moments where I remember him as being good. Than I realize, it is just like thinking Keanu Reeves is a good actor. Been in great movies, but he does one thing well. Action. Will Smith used to do one thing well, Will Smith characters that were so self-assured of their badassery that they could make hilarious quips that inopportune times. So now we have convinced Will Smith he is good at acting so we get bullshit like Seven Pounds, After Earth, Focus, Concussion. Suicide Squad, Collateral beauty, the list goes on. Will Smith reprises his role of badass, but nice guy cop in “Bright”, but nothing about it seems genuine. Will Smith delivered some of his lines in the car to his Orc partner, Joel Edgerton, and instantly my brain thought, ” That line would have been funny if Will Smith had delivered it” and in the next second I realized it was actually Will Smith saying it and a tear rolled down my cheek remembering what he once was. It’s as if old Agent Jay Will Smith explained to new “good” actor Will Smith what sarcastic and funny was and now new crappy Will Smith is trying to act like old Will Smith. Enough on Will Smith, Joel Edgerton did okay, but it is hard to do much when they make your character the town dumbass. The best performance is from Ike Barinholtz as the sleazy police man, mostly because in a movie of shit I’ve seen before, he played a role I would not picture him in.

For all the shit I have talked, I think “Bright” would enter into the category of watching on a slow movie night where you can’t find anything else. It is mildly entertaining in that predictable, blockbustery, cool-concept-coulda-done-a lot- more-with way (which I guess is what Netflix was targeting with the massive budget and sequel re-up), but don’t go out of your way to see it.

24 Hours to Live- Quick Review

Ethan Hawke’s character in this movie is no John Wick or Chev Chelios and this movie is certainly not Crank or John Wick(1 or 2). I mention these because this movie borrows from both of these movies, John Wick in amount of cinematic gun play and Crank in basically the entire plot premise and it executes on neither of them. The plot is summed up in one phrase and it happens to be the title, Ethan Hawke has 24 hours to live. In between gunshots the movie never really asks the question whether we care about this or not and if it had, I would have said, hell no, he should have died in Training Day so that Denzel Washingtons Alonzo could still be around to prove to King Kong that he ain’t got shit on him. Either way if the premise sounds familiar its because it is, Crank did the exact same thing except better. Crank was so over top, we had Statham using paddles on himself and public sex at a horse race, it did not take itself seriously. This movie plays the concept straight faced and it is as ridiculous as it sounds.  We get scenes where pale old wimpy Hawke is headshotting everybody in site, moments after waking up from what is essentially a complete heart transplant and being brought back to life, complete with 24 hours left arm timer for no discernible reason besides to act as an in-effective, all too intrusive suspense creator later in the movie. Like most time devices in movies, it becomes laughable quickly when 6 minutes of on screen time is actually 20 in the viewers world. If you don’t believe me, watch ” In Time” with Justin Timberlake and pay attention to amounts of times the characters shout out compared to their actions on screen.So plot wise the movie is a rehash, and then we get to the shooting a la John Wick.

Regardless of your view of “John Wick”, Keanu looks like he knows what he is doing and the shootouts are choreographed flawlessly. This film, not so much. Although there are some cool sequences, namely the part of one shootout where Xu Qing’s character is stuck on a little balcony with wooden framing and doors with two other characters, one of which gets roasted by machine gunfire that blows through the wood. A little bit of realism in a movie that otherwise resolves conflicts with incredibly coincidental timing or with everyone being dead. I spoke too soon, in said scene we proceed to see Qing’s character exit through a door below the balcony,  she is shot at and inexplicably missed by Henchman on the balcony she just jumped from. This is presumably the same guy who just shot somebody through wood without being able to see them. Terrible shooting aside, Qing decides to  walk backwards through an door opening( I’m not positive, but walking through a door backwards into a room where you have no idea what is in there is probably not a good tactical move) and the shot lets us see two henchman weapons raised right behind her. Oh no! Certain Doom! Nope, Ethan hawke appears from nowhere in the nick of time and rams both guys with a car, says some inane quip and they all act as if nothing just happened. In a paint by numbers action movie like this, sequences of just random dumb luck pull you further out of the story. Qing is demonstrated to have thick plot armor and Ethan Hawke is a skilled agent who relies mostly on great timing, not skill. It is hard to care about already shallowly crafted characters, but when you know there is no real chance they die, then even a lackadaisical suspense defense like an arm countdown clock accomplishes nothing.

 

Hawke being useless as an action hero aside, the movie just isn’t fun. It plays heavy themes of military commitment and regret for doing violent things for a job against shootouts where Ethan Hawke kills battalions of guys. *Spoiler Alert* at the end Ethan Hawke doesn’t kill his buddy because he is a dad and has a family? Hey Ethan, do you think some of the 40+ guys you killed throughout the movie weren’t secretly family men? Oh, so nameless henchmen can’t have a family, but ultra successful CEO of said murder-for-hire company gets sympathy for having a kid? Like the rest of the movie, Hawke takes himself and the role way to seriously and we get laughable moments where he goes from getting his ass-kicked to then simultaneously wielding two pistols and using said pistols to hold two separate people at gun point. Of course there is all of the multiple, boring gun fights leading up to this to firmly plant in the viewers brain that, yes Ethan Hawke is actually a bad ass. If you stay awake during said gun fights, this final moment with Hawke covered in a ridiculous amount of blood and holding pistols out with both arms like he is being crucified, breathing heavily, biceps blaring in his white tee is still over the top. It does make a fitting final scene for a movie that tries hard to be original and does its best to copy the formula of previous successful movies, but in the end its just another fill-in-the blank action movie.

Quick Review- Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Similar to the first movie, too much computer animation for my liking. Also, sadly I believe there was a little too much Chris Prattiness in the fist half of the movie, it was trying too hard to be funny and it hit on some  jokes and missed on others. It got to the point where the comedy was too obvious, the banter seemed robotic. Not a fan of Gamora and Pratt’s star lord,  we get it Gamora has attachment issues stemming from having Thanos as an abusive father and having Nebula as a crazy sister. This is the worst dynamic in the movie, it is portrayed flatly and Saldana and Pratt didn’t impress me from a chemistry standpoint.

On the other end of the spectrum, big fan of Drax and Mantis. I like that they both tell the truth and deal with the consequences, time to get heavy, but I think this quality lacks in our society as a whole. We white lie all day long in attempts to remain Politically correct or “nice”. What is nice? I would say Drax saying he likes Mantis because of her personality and how she treats others would qualify as “nice”, but I also think there is an argument to be made that when he says “she is hideous to look at” it works to give weight to his feelings. Yes it is a horrible thing to say to someone, but is it really that horrible when Drax puts it into context by saying he likes her anyway? Now Mantis knows Drax actually likes her and not her looks all because he is incapable of couching his comments as our society demands of us. I digress, but like I said I like the Drax and Mantis dynamic, it rings as true as the comments they constantly throw at each other.

However, my favorite coupling of the whole movie is Rocket Raccoon and Yondu. Michael Rooker is great in his badass to father figure role, not only to *spoiler alert* Chris Pratt, but also to Rocket. Yondu’s unexpected turn to the sensitive side really struck me and was something I did not entirely see coming. Obviously it works as a plot point to motivate Pratt’s Star Lord to fight against his father , Ego, with some cheesy line about piloting his arrow with his “heart”( even though it is connected to his brain telepathically through his fin I believe) not his mind. Yondu’s line to Rocket about, ” I know you boy” brought a tear to my cynical eyes and to me was a much more effective emotional moment because it didn’t have the dramatic “save the galaxy Starlord with this wisdom” backdrop, instead it was Yondu sincerely reaching out to a rough and tumble, emotionally vulnerable cynical character similar to himself just for the sake of doing it.

Overall, the movie hits a lot of the points from the original, good banter sprinkled with good action. Explaining that your main antagonist is a living planet was handled well enough considering not having much precedent, unless maybe you consider the “plants are killing us” reveal from “The Happening” as being of the same vein. That reveal also sucked so still nothing to go off of. Too much computer animation, but that seems to be the way most of the film industry is trending. Another Guardians movie is promised by the ending, I think for the next one the formula will need to be tweaked or audiences will start to get the feeling that we have been tricked into watching the same movie 3 times.  Still a solid movie, sprinkle in some more Yondu bonding moments with any of the characters and it would have been pushed into the great category for me. Also, baby Groot was pretty cute and I thought it was hilarious that it was integral to the plot that he was an idiot. Michael Rooker wins in my book for best performance in them movie, Bradley Cooper voicing Rocket is second for me.

Learn Something

This is how you learn

Be careful, know your place, and please do not question, not tonight he isn’t feeling well. This is an education young man, fathers talk about things with their friends that they don’t want their wives to hear. Past indiscretions, future indiscretions, how gay is the kid who doesn’t play football?    Mothers talk to their friends about things they would never want their husbands to hear. Dreams longed after, lives they envision, am I happy?.  You listen and that’s how you learn.

Fear and yelling and shame. You want for nothing, and you accept the bottles. You accept the apologies and you accept the hurt feelings. Life is not bad, life is great. Sometimes it feels like home is a great big stage your goal is to tip toe, to make as little noise as possible, you don’t want to mess up the performance. There are people here depending on your performance. There is a façade that needs to remain erect.  Sometimes too much noise is made and the yelling starts, you see the sadness and you know that you have disrupted the play. The show for that night is ruined, go to bed, better luck tomorrow. Avoid the bottles. You listen and you learn, understand?

The stage has changed, the actor too. Awarded the starring role, it’s time to make decisions. The bottles, of course is the logical start, they have the answer. Try a lot of them, you wake up the next morning with no memory of last nights performance. Huh, try again. More  bottles. Wow, now I remember that performance went great. Try again, wake up no memory again. The guilt and the sadness is there. Why? Did I do something? You see the friend you yelled at the night before. You listen to them and you learn.

You listen and you learn and you vow to be different. Your home will not be stage of unwritten rules and tiptoeing intertwined with sadness and guilt. Happiness does not have to balance on the razors edge of meticulous choreography, one wrong move and it is shattered. Happiness is not synonymous with dread and the fear of its end.  But, those bottles look good and you did have a long day today. Maybe one won’t hurt….

 

Please listen and please learn.

Finite

Finite

Suddenly Jeremy stood up from his desk with a lazy smile. Debbie would later say he that his eyes looked like he was somewhere far away. Jeremy stepped onto his swivel chair and used it to step onto his desk right next to his brand new laptop, purchased by corporate of course. With the same far away smile Jeremy cocked his leg back and kicked his laptop over the top of his low cube. He let out a laugh as he did it, not a hysterical life; the laugh sounded more like somebody who was thoroughly enjoying their favorite comedy. Jeremy followed the corporate laptops lead and hopped over the wall of his low cubicle. He landed with a flourish on top of the already broken laptop, assuring its destruction.

Jeremy walked over to Allison’s cubicle.  She immediately looked down at her desk and her permanently frazzled hair fell around her shoulders. Jeremy reached down and tilted Allison’s head upwards so they were looking eye to eye. She looked alarmed at first, but then she smiled in the same distracted way as Jeremy. Simultaneously their heads moved toward each other and they kissed quickly. Both of the outcasts drew their heads backwards and the smiles disappeared from view. Instead they stared solemnly at each other, in what appeared to be deep thought. Jack would recollect later that at this point whatever had infected Jeremy’s mind was passed to Allison and would refer affectionately to Allison as, “disheveled girl, but she tried.” Although no words were exchanged, the outcasts seemed to have come to some sort of agreement as the dazed smiles had returned to both Allison and Jeremy’s faces.

Both of the happy zombies moved toward the large industrial windows that naturally populate a 30th floor office. The office had been quiet until now, nobody knowing what to do, but this move to the window was too much. Debbie, Jude, and Francis stood up and went to yell warnings or to dissuade our happy zombies, but no yelling actually occurred. When Debbie stood up to yell she suddenly remembered that she had always wanted to be photographer and had given up on that dream to work here.  Jude was struck with the notion that would never actually get around to writing hat cookbook she had been talking about for ten years. Francis was struck down by the thought that he was 36 and single and for the first time the idea that he would never be a father became very real to him.

Without any valiant office members to be the champions of common sense, Allison and Jeremy had reached the window. Without even a second thought, they both placed their right hands on the window and it shattered with a tinkle more akin to the breaking of a wine glass, not an industrial strength glass window. Jeremy again laughed, as did Allison. The entire office watched as Allison and Jeremy joined hands and without a second thought stepped through the opening made by the broken window.

Without regard for their safety, the entirety of the office (around 25 people) ran to the bank of windows that contained the opening that the two outcasts had disappeared through. They watched as the two plummeted toward the ground and it looked as though the parking lot would be adding two red splotches to its décor.  The parking lot would be spared, halfway down the pair came to a sudden stop for all of 10 seconds and then began to descend gradually to the ground.

The office was in awe. The two seemingly normal individuals stepped onto the pavement in the middle of the parking lot. They remained hand in hand as the entirety of the office watched the walk nonchalantly toward the corner of the building. Everyone in the office returned to their cubicles without a sound. Richard swears he saw Jeremy give a backhanded wave as they rounded the corner and disappeared from site.  Annette still says that they vanished into thin air.  Nobody seems to agree on what happened once the pair landed in the parking lot, but everyone seems to agree with Douglas when he says, “ Good riddance, the company is better off without them, they didn’t need to throw it in our faces that they were leaving, idiots.”