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Lights Out

Lights Out ticketstubThis horror movie is based on the premise that there's a spirit that only appears in darkness, so get ready for scares that feed on the natural fear of the dark. The scares in this movie mostly work and the origin of the creepy ghost Diana are sufficiently creepy. I was bothered by some plot holes and how everyone so easily accepts that they are being haunted by this evil Diana (though I suppose seeing the ghost makes it easier for one to accept). For a low budget horror movie, I thought the acting was better than expected, particularly by the young Gabriel Bateman. While this movie is PG-13, I am a bit surprised by how there is very little graphic violence, swearing, or nudity. I guess the rating is just for scares?

3/5

Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond ticketstubThe Enterprise enters an uncharted nebula in search of a downed alien ship and is promptly destroyed, scattering the crew across the planet at the heart of the nebula. Why is the evil Krall attacking ships and what does he need from the Enterprise crew? Mysteries! Science! Bonding! Jokes! Star Trek Beyond has it all! Sort of. It is certainly an entertaining ride, but it somehow feels small... and that's not a bad thing, it's actually nice to get away from the ever increasing epic-ness required by every sequel over the one before, but in this case, the story and character development feel thin even for an episode of a TV show. A lot of time is spent on huge action sequences filled with quick cuts that make following the action difficult at times. Overall, a fun, and lighter movie than previous iterations; I have no idea what the "Beyond" in the title refers to.

3/5

Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters ticketstubIt seemed like there was a lot of confusion around whether this movie would pick up the Ghostbusters franchise or reboot it, and this is definitely a reboot. This is a New York City that has not seen previous large scale paranormal activity. The story in this movie isn't all that spectacular, a guy who's been bullied and picked on his whole life decides to bring about the apocalypse to get back at the world, but I would say that's a bit of a B plot next to the main plot that gives us these four ladies who come together to solve problems, kick-ass, and build friendships.

Here's the tough spot this movie has put itself in, it does pretty well standing on its own without any comparisons to the original movie, but, this movie is filled with fan-service call-backs to the original, so it's real tough to ignore the comparisons. If they had left those references out, people would accuse them of pretending the original didn't exist, and if they have the references, people will inevitably compare them. Maybe just enjoy it for what it is and have fun with the call-backs?

The joke writing is much more modern and of-the-times. Joke delivery is what we've come to expect from these actors, so nothing new there, but they are absolutely good at what they do. I laughed throughout and several times out loud, it felt good. Effects are what you would expect from a modern movie. Music contained about five variations on the Ghostbusters theme. I'm a little confused by some of the ghost characters that looked almost exactly like Jack Skellington and Mr. Boogey from The Nightmare Before Christmas. The movie was, I would say, very family friendly. I don't think there are any swear words and any sexual references are adequately disguised. When you go, stay through the entire credits, there's fun scenes throughout and a teaser for the story to come at the very end.

3/5

Warcraft

Warcraft movieI expect most are familiar with the now well known Warcraft series of RTS games and the MMO, or have at least heard the name somewhere. I played the MMO briefly, but clearly not enough to understand the background and lore this movie is constantly namedropping references to. That said, I don't think it matters much. I enjoyed the movie as a classic fantasy adventure with a story that generally worked and characters I almost kind of cared about. I have read reviews complaining that the story jumps around and is difficult to follow, but I didn't have much trouble understanding what was going on. I am probably missing out by not knowing the characters and lore and I don't get the "squees" from seeing a well known location from the games on screen, but I still enjoyed it well enough.

The acting was alright, script was mostly passable, visuals were pretty great and the violence was much more graphic than I was expecting. Overall, I'd say it was a fun fantasy romp. Keep your expectations low and keep soaring (on griffons) for the clouds.

3/5

The Wailing

The Wailing ticketstubThere have been some gruesome murders in a small South Korean village and a small-town policeman is on the job! Except he's incompetent and a coward and as the body count increases, it becomes more clear the cause is supernatural. The murderer in each case becomes afflicted with a sickness that causes boils and eventually madness, and now the policeman's young daughter has been affected. As the story (slowly) develops over 2.5 hours, multiple causes for the affliction are presented. There are several misdirections, but if you mentally walk back through the events, you can see how it all fits together. However, I may be missing the cultural undertones of this film. One of the potential evil characters is an older Japanese man who is demonized by the villagers. I get the impression there's some rather intense dislike/distrust of the Japanese, but that's beyond my experience.

The acting was great and typically over-the-top for these sorts of movies. There is some humor (mostly early on), some really beautiful shots of the landscape, lots of graphic crime scenes, a fair bit of misogyny, and a plot that will leave you feeling overly manipulated. I liked the movie, but the slow pacing and lack of cultural background left me bored for most of it and lacking in context needed to fully understand everything.

3/5

X-Men: Apocalypse

X-Men: Apocalypse ticketstubThe heartwarming tale of mutants coming together to save the world... you know, like every other X-Men movie... Honestly, I thought this movie worked quite well. Picking up after the events of First Class and Days of Future Past, it follows the introduction of the super mutant Apocalypse as he recruits his new horsemen and sets off the apocalypse. In the meantime, Xavier's mutant friends and students start getting their shit together and join forces to save the world and rescue Xavier.

I appreciate that the plot was kept fairly simple leaving a little more room for character development. Still, there are a lot of characters, so not everyone gets the full treatment. Overall, I thought it was a solid movie that continues the themes from the first two movies without muddying the core elements. Stay for the scene after the credits.

3/5

Love and Friendship

Love and Friendship ticketstubI believe this movie is based on a recently discovered and unfinished Jane Austen novella. It follows Lady Susan (Kate Beckinsale) as she moves in with her in-laws after the death of her husband. That's really just the setting, though, the movie itself is mostly about Lady Susan's sociopathic manipulations of everyone around her as she works to secure her own future by hooking her daughter and hopefully herself up with a rich husband. There's probably a lot of sub-text I missed, but on the surface, it's a look at what these ladies have gone through and will go through in a world where they have no professional options, where all they can do is get married in order to ensure food and shelter and, in the case of these ladies, income so they can maintain their lifestyle.

I found Lady Susan to be a very unlikable character. It's difficult to be sympathetic toward a character who is herself, incapable of feeling empathy for anyone else. She's a compulsive liar who manipulates everyone and will frequently throw her own daughter under the bus if it means she can climb one more rung on her own personal achievement ladder. Those around her seem at least remotely aware of Lady Susan's manipulations, but because this is upper crust England and everyone must be proper, she is rarely called out on anything. Awkward encounters aside, the movie is frequently and unexpectedly funny. It managed to get several out loud chuckles from me. Once you get into the language and story, you start to pick up on the funny moments quite easily. Something curious, though, whenever characters are moving about an estate, indoors or out, or walking around the streets of London, there is usually at least one "common" person doing something in the background. It might be lighting candles or tending some equipment or fixing the bricks in the pavement, but there's always something going on in these scenes and I wasn't sure if it was intended to make the area feel "working" or if there's a message about the petty manipulations of this highborn folks while the service class silently keeps their world functioning. The acting was generally good and often quite funny. I mostly followed the story, but occasionally lost track of things amongst all the big words being used. I don't think it felt as polished as the more well-known Austen works, but maybe after it's around for a while we'll feel more comfortable with it.

3/5

Money Monster

Money Monster ticketstubThe trailer for this movie will tell you all you need to know. George Clooney's kinda scummy character hosts a financial news show, Julia Roberts plays the show's director, and a man who has lost everything in an investment that Clooney's character recommended, takes the studio hostage in order to get answers. From beginning to end, this is a gripping story filled with very sincere, sympathetic, real feeling characters (except maybe for the very scummy CEO of the company that lost the money).

I really didn't have any issues with this movie. It moves fast, it's intense, and the characters feel multi-dimensional. Perhaps the only minor issue is that the film obviously plays on our cynicism toward the financial industry, but that is a real thing. We are suspicious, and we have good reasons to be suspicious. So maybe not such a big leap. If you think you'd be up for an intense ride, I'd say go for it.

4/5

Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War ticketstubAfter the destruction resulting from the Avengers battles with various threats, the individual members of the Avengers are struggling to deal with the consequences of those battles. Tony Stark thinks the Avengers should be controlled by the UN, Captain America thinks the Avengers need to be independent. Now fight!

And so they do... We got lots of extremely well choreographed and lengthy fight sequences that are great fun to watch. There's other stuff going on, but it all gets lost between these fight sequences. This movie is about two and a half hours long and it FEELS long because there are so many battles. This is that time in a big action movie where I kind of wish there were more plot development. My other issue with this movie has to do with the basis for the conflict. People all over the world blame the Avengers for the people killed in New York, DC, and Sokovia, but what never gets mentioned is the alien invasion in New York, or the Hydra infiltration in DC, or the thousands of Ultron robots at Sokovia. The Avengers didn't create the chaos, they did everything in their power to stop it. Holding them responsible for what happened strikes me as insane. Vision even makes the argument that the mere presence of the Avengers (enhances people), generates more threats, but I don't buy the argument that the Avengers create the threats, it's more likely enhanced (and highly trained people) rise to combat the threats. The more threats there are, the more people rise to help. I understand people want to blame someone, but you don't blame the people who are protecting you. So if the source of all the conflict implodes, everything that comes after vaporizes and you're left without any plot at all. It's a fun movie to watch, but I couldn't buy any of it for a second. Note that there are two post-ending scenes, one mid-credits and one after the credits.

3/5

Hardcore Henry

Hardcore Henry ticketstubHenry wakes up to find he's a cyborg with no memories and without the ability to speak. His wife is kidnapped by a telekinetic man who wants to take over the world. Henry is then prompted, kind of video game style, through a series of quests in order to rescue his wife. If you haven't seen the trailer, I should also point out that the entire movie is filmed from Harry's perspective, whether it's running, shooting, falling, parkour... everything. Though I've heard people reject the idea of seeing this movie because they fear getting motion sickness, I didn't feel that at all. However, I do play a lot of games that use this same perspective, so I certainly can't say for sure no one else will feel sick.

The movie is filled, from end to end, with graphic brutal bloody violence that often feels over-the-top in a video game way. It works. There are a few subtle funny moments and then the overt funny moments that come mostly from Charlto Copley who plays the role of other cyborgs helping Henry and giving him his mission objectives. I have to say, this movie felt most like the game Dying Light without the zombies (though it does kind of have zombies toward the end), mostly for it's mix of gunplay and parkour. It's solid fun wrapped up in a package we really haven't seen (to this extent) in a movie before. If you're okay with the violence and not worried about getting motion sickness, I would definitely recommend Hardcore Henry.

4/5