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Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus
(Never Tickle A Sleeping Dragon)
To Discuss it, click here: CHICAGO ROCKS!!!
P.S. It helps that he does a crime on screen. Going in chronological order of the films.
Also, since the word "Sheriff" has been around in the English language before 1050, and "Marshal" has been in the English language since 1225 - 75, don't be surprised by some of the entities. Also, supposedly the rank of Sheriff and Marshal are equal with the difference being is that Marshals work for the federal government and the courts in the USA and are appointed be judges and patrol a federal district, or enforce court orders and functions today while sheriffs are usually elected to patrol a town or a county.
The Star (2017)
Go See "The Star"! It is a great entertaining movie.
I'll start this review off by mentioning something specific and unique about this film that proves that I have seen this film while I suspect one reviewer didn't. The film handles the traditional nativity story while modifying the King Herod's attempt to find the Christ child and the Holy Family and murder them. (And, frankly, IMO, that part of the story that leads to the slaughter of the children of Bethlehem is not a suitable subject for family animated movie for children and is wisely left out of this film.) How they changed the King Herod part was to tell the story from the animal's point of view. The donkey Bo, Dave the bird, and Ruth the lamb all notice a new star in the sky and conclude that something great is doing to happen. Now Bo, who is a donkey of a miller, escapes his cruel master, and is adopted by Mary and Joesph. Only after Mary and Joesph leave on their journey to Bethlehem, does Bo learn that Herod has sent a soldier henchman with a long nasty looking sword and two mean chained together dogs to search for Mary and the baby and kill them. Bo enlists the aid of his friend Dave the dove and a lamb named Ruth, to chase after Mary and Joesph in order to warn them of the Soldier hunting them and to protect the holy family. Bo doesn't know why Mary is being hunted. The camels of the Magi, who Bo, Dave, and Ruth don't meet until the end of the film, witness Herod's original plotting. As I said, the film wisely leaves out the massacre of the children of Bethlehem and stops before that point in the biblical narrative means this film does not have a very violent, bloody, and adult scary scene in it for children to watch.
While telling the nativity story from the animals' point of view is not a new idea, using them to modify, and soften Herod's part is.
The animation is stunning in this film.
The story is easy to fallow and treats the traditional nativity story respectfully while infusing the obviously fictional part of the animals talking. It also has jokes in it to keep the tone of the picture light and easy .
The soundtrack's use of the carols and new music is lively, and enjoyable without getting too heavy handed with the religious theme. But the soundtrack doesn't get too light ether. It hits the right balence of seriousness and entertaining.
I would highly recommend taking children to see this film.
Alien: Covenant (2017)
I don't need to give a spoiler because you will figure out the ending within five minutes after it begins.
That is how bad and predictable the story is. There was no plot twist I didn't see coming a mile away. There is nothing new here. It used all the old clinches. Understand, I never saw "Prometheus" (2012). So I didn't know who was evil or not or how that film turned out. But even I was able to figure out who was evil or not well before his villainy was revealed. But when the word Prometheus was said in the film, there was a huge groan from the audience and someone said that's David, the evil robot. That was when I had realized that this just a connector movie between the first Alien movie to Prometheus. That was when my expectations just sank well down because connector movies are seldom good or have anything new. They just connect from point a to point b. Ridley Scott did an excellent job in directing and creating the world, but there is only so much one can do with a bad script. My advice is to save your money and skip this one. Wait for it when it gets shown for free on cable or broadcast TV.
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Great eye candy but that all it was.
Flat monotone performances by all except Pilou Asbæk. His was great. Vague slow paced story. But the worst part is when the constant action sequences keep coming at you with no let up or change of pace, that gets boring. This film put me to sleep TWICE! ( aka, the first time I saw it I was a little tired and the seat I was in was a dream lounger in full recline position. So I gave it a second chance viewing and it still put me to sleep even though the seat was in the upright position.) I recommend to save your money and only rent it after you had seen everything else that is newly released first. The feeding of the dogs and the one hound returning and not running away is the best parts of this film.
Kong: Skull Island (2017)
They finally got King Kong right!
Look, when the story of King Kong was first written, he was meant to be scary and then he becomes the hero as men mistakenly try to kill him. It was meant to be a scary but action story all along. The film that was able to pull off the bring Kong into the city was the first one. Every single remake after that, the movie starts to go wrong after they try to bring King Kong off of the island and into the city. This movie wisely jettisons all that and keeps it as an action movie with some horrific monsters in it and some horrific moments in it. It also wisely gets rid of the monkey falling in love with the human girl. And it still accomplishes the same goals as the original does. Kong it first seen as a monster but eventually turns into a hero protecting men from something worse, usually cause by man's own stupidity as happens in this film. Kong is protecting the natives on the island from the other monsters on the island that the bombs that Goodman's character drops and awakens. The best part of this movie is John C. Riley's character of a WW2 vet who was stranded on the island for twenty five years and who know what to do and what not to do and he tries to stop Samuel Jackson crazy gung-ho marine character from killing Kong because, if Kong dies, who is going to stop the skull eaters from killing the rest of the people on the island. The action is well paced and intense. Too intense for little kids as the film shows people getting eaten or crushed to death. This is not a film you should let younger children see. This is too intense and gory for young kids. The effects are top notch. I will say one thing. SIT THROUGH THE CREDITS! There is a killer after the credits scene at the end of the film. The only tip off to it is in the credits after the song credits where the list credits of using classic monster images that didn't appear in the film. The after the credits scene explains that.
xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)
Great stunts and action in a pretty forgettable film.
As the title says, this film has great stunts and action. But what this film doesn't have is a story or any dramatic tension at all. The film only served as an excuse to go from one over-the-top action scene to another using a cliché ridden ridiculous and unbelievable plot. What story there was in it was this: There is a weapon called Pandora's box that can make satellites fall out of the sky and kill people at will. The original prototype was used to kill Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) who is sitting in a cafe and trying to recruit a new spy. (Yes, that is just the first of the many unbelievable clinches used in this film - wiping out a whole town, killing everybody, by dropping a satellite on it right on the cafe where he is at, (wow, what remarkable aiming and knowledge of where he is), and he survives it while everyone else in town gets killed), while the realistic cheaper means of sending a professional agent/hit-man/assassin to kill Gibbons is never thought of or used). Then a team of highly trained stuntmen breach into a secure government building where a secret meeting high level is taking place and where someone was stupid enough to bring a new and improved version of Pandora's box to the meeting instead locking up that sucker in a secure vault somewhere. The device is stolen and everyone at the meeting is murdered, except for two people. Naturally one is a traitor and was in on the whole thing. And because the thieve showed that they where trained in extreme sports moves, there was no other man in the government similarly trained except Xander Cage and the government needs to bring him back from the dead (or really out of hiding). This where we get introduced to another of the film's clichés: the irrational snarling man (usually the government agent) that serves no other purpose other than go throughout the whole picture snarling at Cage and throwing insults and only ending as another obstacle Cage has to beat at the end. Naturally Cage recruits his own team of Triple xXx outsides and former Triple xXx agents in order to get the other guys. By the time Cage's finally recovers the stolen box, they find out that the other guys where also former Triple xXx agents too and they were trying save the world from the evil government. Wow! Another over used cliché:big government = evil, self serving egotistical anti-social rebels - good! When Cage returns the box to his superior, the government betrays him and his team and he has to get them in order to retrieve the box so that no-one can have the power to use it. That is the whole story. There is no dept to the characters at all except one: Adele Wolff who does some pretty cool stunts in her scenes. What this series needs to do is to go back to the original premise of the first one: there are some areas of the world and society that gentlemen agents like James Bond can't walk into and would get spotted right off while Cage can - aka: the anti-Bond world. And start with a solid story built realistically and logically from there to the wild. The original xXx showed that there is a whole section of the wealthy society that does the grunge thing and are not the type that would visit the casinos and nightclubs that Bond would go to. My advice is to save your money and wait for the video or cable showing of it.
Hell or High Water (2016)
Despite the great performances and beautiful cinematography, it was like watching paint dry.
Despite the great performances and beautiful cinematography, it was like watching paint dry because the story wasn't there and the pacing was slower than a statue crawling in a leisurely stroll down a sidewalk. The story is supposed to be about two brothers who rob the branches of one specific bank, Texas Midland Bank, and the two Texas Rangers (not one as the advertising would lead you to believe) that chase them. The plan is to rob the banks that hold the reverse mortgage on the ranch the younger brother inherited and then use that money to payoff the mortgage. Aka, pay the bank with the same money they stole from it, after they launder the money through an out of state casino of course. Two Texas Rangers that don't really like each other are assigned the case. Of course, one is an old near retirement bigot and the other is Mexican and Commanchie minority. Of the brothers, one is a father with two sons and an ex-wife. The other brother is an ex-con that was convicted of - what else?- bank robbing. He is looking for redemption. He is dumber than his younger brother. That is all the depth these characters have because They all are rather flat and swallow. The story is shallow because certain things were never explained. They tell that the bank is evil and deserve to be robbed. But they never tell you why or show the bank doing an evil act to deserve retribution for their action. This makes it hard to feel for the brothers. Don't use old overworked tired reference clinches. SHOW US! The makers of this film relying on the average audience members having their own problems with their banks in order to having immediate sympathy with the brothers. That is a bad idea and lazy storytelling. In, the way the details of the plan was worked out and who thought of it was vague too. We never see the young brother coming up with the plan. We just hear everyone else say he thought of it AFTER THE PLAN WAS ALREADY SET INTO MOTION when the film starts! Yes, we don't see any of the pre-planning. Lazy storytelling again. In fact, almost all of the script seams to be racists jokes about Mexicans, Indians, Christians, and religion. Oh, and of course, near the end, we see the tired cliché of the old ranger having a hound dog as a pet.
This film does have it's good points like it's realistic touches and cinematography that makes you feel in you are in Texas. However, when it comes to the acting, it falls apart. The lead roles all turn in stellar performance which Pine and Bridges are the best. But once you get past the leads, it comes crystal clear many of the supporting roles had people who were not professional actors, especially the cowboy in the bank, the Cowboys in the restaurant, and the T-bone steak waitress. But even with the professional actors there was a problem because between Bridges and Gil Birmingham who play the two Texas Rangers, there was no chemistry at all between the two actors. Birmingham played his role like he was made of wood because it was so understated.
This movie is way way over hyped. Save money. Wait for it on free TV.
Jason Bourne (2016)
Bourne equal boring. Hard to believe for an action movie.
Yup this action movie almost put me to sleep twice. What happened is that this movie is 90% action and extended chase scenes that move at the same pace constantly throughout the movie and that pace got boring and tiring.
What was worst is that some of the chase scenes were stupid, confusing, and defied logic! They were confusing because there was too much jumping around that you can't keep track of what they were doing or where each person are. Chase scenes work best where the audience is allowed to keep track of where every character that scene is and what they are doing. As for stupid and defying logic, here are two examples: 1) in Athens Greece, born meet with another ex-CIA female agent to exchange information in the middle of a riot. They are fallowed by a CIA hit man called "The Asset" whose assignment is to kill both Bourne and the woman he meets. The asset is controlled by telegraphic communications of another CIA computer monitor agent Heather Lee who is using satellite and local cameras to track and locate Bourne and directing the asset. During the riot, the Greek police are closing off the area and closing in. Fire bombing is happening everywhere. Now this where is gets dumb and illogical. During the chase, the asset crashes his car and has to continue his chase on foot. Bourne and his friend are still riding a motorcycle throughout this chase. Lee, monitoring the situation back in Washington DC, is able to determine Bourne's route out of the area before Bourne knows it himself, she directs the asset to go to the roof a certain building to set up a sniper's position because Bourne's route will circle around that point. The asset manages still have time to climb up to the roof and assemble his sniper's rifle and Bourne hasn't left the area on the cycle. How unbelievable. Now Bourne and his friend, still on the cycle, are constantly changing there own route because of a sudden police blockade or unexpected firebomb and their route becomes what Lee had predicted without one bit of CIA interference. The assets is still able to kill Bourne's friend after all that. Even more unbelievable. 2) In Vegas, Nevada, USA, the asset is assigned a job to go to assassinate Internet guru, Killoor at a convention. It is shown that the asset is studying the plans of the building. Therefore, the asset knows all the exits to the building including a very prominently marked on the plans, sewer line and access tunnels. Bourne doesn't know them. Now thinking logically, both the asset and Bourne are CIA trained to drop the weapon and exit the scene as fast as possible . Every Bourne film shows him doing this. It is logical for the asset to do the same. Well, in this film, Bourne is able to foil the attack, chase the asset a little bit, change his mind and go up to the 23rd floor in an elevator, have a conversation with Lee and CIA director Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones), kill Bradley, get back into the elevator, get back down to the lobby, scan the rushing crowd to search for the asset, find the asset because for some unexplained reason, the asset wasn't able to get out of the building while Bourne was up stairs and the final chase scene starts. How believable was that? Not believable at all.
As for the plot, it is basic and lame. Bourne now remembers his real name and his past and that his father recruited him for the CIA and that his father was murdered by the asset on CIA orders. He discovers that the latest launch of a new internet networking program is really a CIA infected program designed to spy on everyone and the head of the computer company, Aaron Kalloor wants to expose the CIA plot. Naturally, Dewey wants him silenced. That is almost the whole story. There is no twists or turns in this film that are the hallmark of a typical Robert Ludlum story because he didn't write this story. Paul Greengrass and Christopher Rouse did. The characters are flat and one dimensional except for Kalloor and Lee. As for Matt Damon's portrayal of Bourne this time, he spends more time imitating the Terminator from the first terminator film than portraying Bourne. Damon just simply walks through this whole film with a grimace on his face and not saying a word. I doubt he had spoken more than twenty lines throughout whole the film. Jones, Vilander (Lee), Cassel (the asset), and Ahmed (Killoor) have a larger speaking parts than Damon does. This is Tommy Lee Jone's film more than it is Matt Damon's.
Advice, save your money and wait for the video or the on demand download.
The Jungle Book (2016)
The best version of this classic book I have ever seen.
The title says it all. This is the best version of the story I have ever seen. Only minor flaws keep it from a perfect 10. It does look like Mowguli he is talking to the animals and the animals are talking back to him. But however the few scenes you can tell he is not talking directly at the animal because he is on a sound stage in the real physical world while the animals were all CGI characters inside a computer. In other words, he was looking into space because animals were not there. In a few shots, you can tell he was superimposed on it because he was a little too bright compared to the rest of the scene. They even worked three of the songs from Disney's original animated version of this into the movie.
It was well acted and I believed in every single character. However, I was a little disappointed, but not much, in Bill Murray's portrayal Baloo. It was a little flat because he played it too laid back. The bear was more of a con man and hustler to which I have seen Murray can play that type of character before. A little more on the hustle please.
This version is a little dark and scary. It may not be appropriate for real little children like under five. Particularly the Shere Khan scenes.
However this film does includes many of the story details usually left out of all the other films. It is the best version of Kipling's story because it remained really faithful to that book despite that facts that in the book King Louie is not in the book and that the Snake Kea is a friend and adviser to Moguli and not a villain.
London Has Fallen (2016)
White House Down/Olympus Has Fallen Goes to London
Spoilers are definitely coming. Sorry, I had to write the title like that because I didn't see "Olympus Has Fallen", the series pilot film of this series, but I did see "White House Down" and this was how the film felt to me as I was watching this. And it all does back to "Die Hard" anyway. But this film comes nowhere as good as "Die Hard", or "Die Hard 2" were. It doesn't match up to "Air Force One". Why? Because after the initial attack happens, the story and characters stop developing and just rehashed the same old clichés. It is even obvious who the inside trader is while all the other films I had mentioned (except "White House Down") keeps developing the story and characters as the film continues and thus keeps the audience engaged and held in suspense. I just wasn't kept guessing what was going to happen next the way a good action suspense film should do in this genre.
Here is the basic plot. A terrorist arms dealer wants to get revenge for a botched attempt to assassinate him but killed his daughter and family instead. Set he sets a trap by poisoning the Prime Minister of Great Britian and then plans to kill all the heads of state who attends the funeral. Once the attack happens, the US president and his trusty secret service agent must run a gauntlet in order to get the president to safety. That would have been fine enough because the action is good. The effects are spectacular. The cinematography was great. The director does compose great visuals. But the story runs through all the clichés including Shakespeare's famous one from Macbeth were a tender moment is shown for a character to raise the audience's sympathy for that character and then that character get brutally murdered. They even used the girl giving a flower to someone cliché that comes straight from the wedding scene in "The Guns Of Navarone". (Yes, I did think of that when I saw it and thought that something bad is going to happen to that lady.) But the worst part of the film is how they underutilized some strong actors that I haven't seen for while: Colin Salmon, Robert Forster, and Angela Bassett. Forster and Salmon were reduced to talking head cameos almost. They are better than that.
But if you like action without too much thinking, then this film is for you.
The Revenant (2015)
Emotional, good performances, and effective but over long, self indulgent, and frankly, a bit boring.
The title of this review sums it up almost perfectly. The film does have major strengths but also has major weaknesses. While intense at certain points, it gets as vague as hell in others which kills the narrative drive and tension of the film. Also, another problem with this is my age as in the I have lived long enough to have seen and remember films of similar stories and themes. With "The Revenant", I had felt like I was watching a variation of a theme that I had seen before. That is bad for a film because it jerks the viewer out of his enjoyment of the film. Every film should make you feel that you are seeing something new and unique even if it isn't. With me, I had thought I was watching a variation of "The Naked Prey (1965). While the Naked Prey film was set in Africa, the historical event that it is based on, Colter's Run, happened in North America, in Yellowstone park, just like The Revenant. And both Colter and Glass were guides and experienced mountain men. The stories were too similar. And it didn't help that I had just finished reading a novel that had mentioned Colter's Run shortly before seeing this movie. Bad timing on that. As far as acting goes, I was not particularly empressed by Dicaprio's performance and felt it was the weakest of the major players of the film. I thought Will Poulter's was the best and stole the show. Gleason and former child star, Lukas Haas, gave strong performances. Hardy was good, but frankly, there was points where I couldn't understand what the hell he was saying because the accent he had used was so thick and he had mumbled some of his lines. But in the end, the strength of the story and the directing did pull me in and I did feel emotion at what was happening on screen which a good film should do. So therefore, I say this film has both good points and weaknesses. I will say that if you are looking for a fast action packed film, this not the film for you since this film takes it's time (aka, "slow"), and builds towards it's ending that doesn't really pay out.