Monday, November 20, 2017

Movie Review: Your Name

I enjoy anime. Most of it is mediocre to boring, the good stuff is REALLY good. Anime is known for being original, experimental, and breaking new ground. It is film first, animation second. That's what I like so much about it.

Your Name is a 2016 romantic adventure anime involving time travel. It is rated PG and is appropriate for most ages.

The Good

Animation. This film is gorgeous. The visuals alone are worth watching this movie for.

Exploration of Themes.
 This film tackles very common ideas of identity, time travel, and love, but does it in such an original way that I was truly inspired by it. It' so original and fresh.

 This movie started off slow (like most anime), but it picked up the pace and felt like a western film early on.

The Bad

Exposition & Setup. This film began a little slow and confused. I wasn't sure what was happening. The director could have shown what time it was to better orient the viewer. Also, the characters figured out they were switching bodies pretty quickly and just accepted it. As realistic and the characters and motivations were, that part was a little far fetched. No rational person would ever think that or accept that without mountains of evidence.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I wish the beginning had had more development, showed how the characters discovered they were switching bodies, and explored the differences of boys and girls. All of that was rushed thru.


Your Name is a fascinating, beautifully animated film that after a slow start had me at the edge of my seat. It explored relationships, identity, and time travel in ways I've never seen before. I give this movie 4.5 boxes of popcorn out of 5.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Movie Review: Justice League (2017 film)

I love the classic DC Universe. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, The Green Lantern, and others are icons for a reason. I've been wanting to see a live action SuperFriends flick my whole life. I never understood why Christopher Reeves, Adam West, and Lynda Carter didn't team up. I'm not a fan of what DC has done to their characters over the last 15 years, so I was very nervous for this movie.

Justice League is a 2017 action superhero movie featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and other DC Comics characters. It is rated PG-13 for language and intense action and is appropriate for most ages.

The Good

Characters. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and The Flash were all well cast and fun to watch. I loved their interactions. The characters playing off each other and fighting together are the highlights of this film and what make it work.

Zach Snyder Visuals.
 Zack Snyder puts some amazing visuals in his movies, and this film is no exception. Some of the cityscape shots at the beginning with Batman hunting a Parademon looked like a painting come to life.

 This movie is an action movie, and there is some great action with all characters showing what they can do. It really looked like a comic book come to life.

The Bad

Villain. In the comics, Steppenwolf is a pretty cool hunter and general for Darkseid. Whoever came up with this version has obviously never read the comic. He's portrayed as some lumbering giant that spends the movie mindlessly destroying and conquering for no real reason.

Cyborg and Aquaman. Cyborg was annoying and Aquaman acted like he was high. Neither were interesting characters.

Story. This is an action movie, and the story is no deeper than that of a typical action movie or Saturday morning cartoon. As long as you don't think too hard about what's going on and just go with the flow, the gaping plot wholes and logical inconsistencies won't disrupt your enjoyment.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I wish the filmmakers had chosen a really great story from the comics to adapt instead of coming up with their convoluted mess. I also wish they hadn't replaced real League members with Cyborg who works much better in the Teen Titans.


Justice League is an entertaining movie filled with some fun characters, great action, and many nice visuals. The characters' interactions and fighting together are the highlights that make this movie work. The story makes as much sense as a typical action movie or Saturday morning cartoon--as long as you don't think too hard about it and just go with the flow, the gaping plot wholes and logical inconsistencies won't disrupt your fun. I give this film 4 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Movie Review - Thor: Ragnarok

I really enjoyed the first two Thor movies and felt they were two of the strongest entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (I know there are many of you out there with opinions to the contrary, but I think a couple of decades of time will change your opinions), and I loved The Incredible Hulk movie. So I really excited for the latest Thor film prominently featuring the Hulk. But would it live up to my expectations? Was I setting myself up for disappointment?

Thor: Ragnarok is a 2017 superhero, action, adventure film from Marvel Studios featuring characters by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby. It is rated PG-13 for language, some sexual jokes, and violence. It is appropriate for tweens and up.

The Good

Chris Hemsworth. Chris does a great job portraying the God of Thunder. He's very likable, serious when he needs to be serious, and is very powerful in this role demanding attention like a Norse god should.

Planet Hulk scenes. I enjoyed the Planet Hulk animated movie from a few years back, and thought the producers did a great job integrating that with Thor and making it feel like both stories belonged in the same movie. And the scenes were fun, entertaining, visually delightful, and funny. This was without question the best part of the film.

The Bad

Plot and Pacing. This movie was thin on story and dragged until they reached the Planet Hulk scenes.

Hela. The villainess Hela was supposed to be this all powerful goddess of death that couldn't be stopped. Instead she was this shallow, prancing, two-dimensional character that was all talk and very little action. She just wasn't strong enough to provide real menace, nor interesting enough to be memorable.

Special Effects. I'm not sure if it is the director, the producers, or the special effects houses dropping the ball, but this movie felt very cgi and very cheap video game like. The leaps, flying, and fighting all looked badly rendered and cheaply put together. It took away from the film.

Humor. This movie had the usual Marvel movie jokes, except they weren't that funny. Every one you saw coming, and none were impeccably delivered.

Music. This film had some good music, but there were several different styles that didn't mesh well together, and several of them didn't fit the mood or feel of the film. I found myself conciously noticing the music, which you should never do. It should seamlessly blend with the visuals and other audio for a complete experience that you don't notice.

End Credit Scene. I don't expect a lot from the end credit scenes these days. The early ones always revealed something cool, but lately they've been desperate. The end credit scene for Thor: Ragnarok scraped an all new low that makes bottom of the barrel look elevated. Don't waste your time sticking around for it.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I would like to have seen more originality instead of following the Marvel Movie Formula so closely. Thor is a unique character with a unique backstory different than most superheroes that gives you options to break out of the Marvel Movie Mold and do something new. I also wish the villain had been stronger and that they had shown more Planet Hulk scenes.


Thor: Ragnarok is an entertaining film that continues the story began in earlier films and advances the characters and the story to the next chapter. The Planet Hulk scenes were so much fun and so entertaining and by far the best part of the film. The villainess Hela was weak and not a serious challenge. I give this movie 3.5 boxes of popcorn out of 5.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017 film)

I am a huge fan of murder mysteries and the early Twentieth Century, so when I saw the trailer for this film, I said to myself, "Self, you should go see that."

Murder on the Orient Express is a 2017 murder mystery film based on the novel of the same name by Agatha Christie staring Hercule Poirot. It is rated PG-13 for mild violence and suspense and is appropriate for tweens and up.

The Good

Kenneth Branagh. Kenneth Branagh brought Poirot to life. He captured the brilliance and superior brain power of the character without making him unlikable or superhuman. I could watch another dozen movies with him in them.

Michelle Pfeiffer. Michelle Pfeiffer is one of the greatest actresses to walk the face of this planet. I don't know why she isn't staring in more films. She gave such a strong and varied performance that sent chills down my back and made me feel for her.

Art Direction. This is one of the most visually stunning films I have ever seen. From Istanbul to the steam locomotive, everything looked like a painting come to life. When I imagine the 30s or listen to old radio broadcasts or read pulp fiction from the early 20th Century, this is how I imagine it looks. The visuals alone make this movie worth watching.

Cinematography. This movie was beautifully shot with really well thought out camera angles, movements, and cuts. Watching this movie is like watching a master class in how to shoot a well-crafted film.

Music. The music did not feel old, yet it felt appropriate for the period. It was classic in that respect.

The Bad

Expected. If you've ever read the book or seen any of the earlier adaptions, you know who the killer is so there isn't the suspense or tension of most murder mysteries. Also, this film played out exactly how you expect it to, so that made it a little less interesting than it could have been.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I with there had been more character development. The film was filled with very talented actors and actresses that didn't have the opportunity to show how great they were. Those that did get sufficient screen time really shined.


Murder on the Orient Express was a beautifully shot film filled with some of the best acting I've seen in years. The film is so well directed, constructed, and shot that watching it is basically a course in how to masterfully craft a movie. The story is pretty straight forward with the revelation of whodunit not much of a surprise. I give this movie 4 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.