Black Panther – Movie Review

Black Panther is a Marvel movie that takes place after T’Challa helps out in Captain America – Civil War. In this movie we learn how Wakanda choses its king, and also about its culture and other traditions. T’Challa has to prove to his country that he is the best choice to be their king and leader. Wakanda is a hidden African nation whose massive storages of vibranium allow it to be a very technologically advanced culture.

For being a Marvel comic movie there didn’t seem to be many action scenes. I also didn’t like how the Wakandians called CIA Agent Everette Ross a “colonialist”. I doubt Agent Ross colonialized anything. The acting was okay even for a Marvel movie and I had a hard time understanding what most of the Wakandians were saying. At first I thought it was the sound in the theater, but it wasn’t because I understood all others with no accents with no problem – like Erik Killmonger. Other than these things, the movie was okay. There was a lot of opportunity to take breathtaking scenic shots and the directors blew it. The movie felt long also. There were some funny parts in the movie, but not enough action or mind-blowing scenes.

If you are a Marvel fan, I recommend this movie, but younger Marvel fans may find the movie a bit long.

There are several times were the actors say “sh*t”. Princess Shuri flips off her brother. There is no nudity or sexuality in the movie. There are several fight scenes, but nothing gory. The movie is rated PG-13 for action violence and because of Shuri flipping the bird. .

Retribution – Netflix Movie Review

Retribution is a 4 part movie series about two families who happen to also be neighbors in rural Scotland. They are joined forever by the marriage of their child to the other child. The young couple weds and two weeks later they are killed. And that is just the beginning of this convoluted story.

At the beginning, the movie drags on a bit and it is hard to figure out who is who to whom. Slowly the kinship to each person is figured out, but even in the end, I was left a bit confused. Either way, it is hard to develop sentiment towards the characters when you can’t figure out who is related to what person.

Also, I just can’t stand it when a great plot is destroyed by propaganda. The story line was great, but it was shattered by these inserts of left leaning ideals. The passionate defender husband, in the end is really a boyfriend and she leaves him for his protectiveness. The unforgiving mother forgives no one else, especially the men, but does forgive the woman who did most harm. The compassionate character shows compassionate to all others except towards the religious patriarch.  It was absurd!

The acting was great, the plot was interesting, even the crazy climax was insane – in a good way! But when the killer was revealed, it was such a huge let down!

I recommend this movie only to those who don’t care about some anti patriarchy. anti-religious, feminist leanings. All this was made evident in the last episode.

There are cuss words, one very short love scene with no nudity, and violence. On Netflix it is rated TV-MA.

The Last Jedi – Movie Review

No Spoilers

My husband was the person who got me into Star Wars and ever since I set eyes on that hairy beast – Chewbacca, I was in love.

Summary: “The Last Jedi” is a continuation of “The Force Awakens” and tells the story of Rey and her new mentor Luke Skywalker. We also find out more about the back story of Kylo Ren and his turbulent relationship with the Dark Side. We are introduced to a new Star Wars cutie – The Porg – a cross between a penguin, owl and puffin. BB8 also doesn’t fail in perfectly expressing his feelings allowing us to think we understand his language – which I recently found out is called 27th generation droidspeak.

I was glad to see a little more of Princess Leah in this episode. Both Daisy Ridley (Rey) and Adam Driver (Kylo) gave great performances. I was a little disappointed in Chewy not getting a lot of screen time, but where he did show up, he was funny, witty and just plain loveable.

If you are a Star Wars fan, you will love this Star Wars episode.  It has the struggle between good and evil, the tug and pull of fear and it’s repercussions, and the grey line between right and wrong. And Star Wars has done something unique – it has brought three generations together to enjoy good, clean American fun. Along with my in-laws, my husband and I, and my kids, we all can appreciate this movie. Where R2-D2 and C3P0 bring nostalgia to my in-laws, seeing BB8 brings fun memories to my kids. Where my in-laws remember the apprenticeship of Luke by Yoda, I remember Yoda’s extraordinary light-saber duel against Count Dooku. Where my children see the hesitancy of Luke teaching Rey, I remember Obi-Won’s same reluctance in teaching Anikan, and my in-laws recalling Yoda’s enigmatic advice to Luke. It’s all there, for all of us to ponder and enjoy. And of course, how can Chewbacca not bring all of us together? What is not to love about all of this?

Although I do love these movies, this one did seem a little redundant. There were some new characters introduced, but it is basically the same general scenario. The First Order, along with Snoke (The Empire with Darth Vader in previous episodes) wants control of the universe, but a few in The Resistance (The Rebellion) are fighting against them. Rey (Luke in previous episodes) is the first of a long lost band of warriors. Throw in a cute droid like BB8 (R2D2) and a love triangle – Rey, Finn and Rose (Leah, Luke and Hans) and we have a basic remake. So the whole story is a little anti-climatic. Nonetheless, I am watching all Star Wars movies that come out.

I am still look forward to the last installment of this series, Star Wars Episode IX, to be released December of 2019. I am also pleased to let you know that a stand alone episode called Solo: A Star Wars Story will be releasing May 25, 2018. I am assuming there will be a lot more Chewbacca in this episode!

 

 

Alias Grace – Netflix Review

The movies produced by Netflix are getting better and better visually. I remember the days when a mini movie series would come out and it was nothing compared to what we would see on the big screen. Times are changing.

“Alias Grace” has beautiful cinematography. It is a story about a young woman and the hardships she faces as an Irish immigrant. She is charged with murder and the movie goes back and forth from the past to the present as she re-tells her story.

This series is rated mature for its adult themes and gore. Thankfully, there wasn’t any blatant nudity. There are several times Grace is molested and one sex scene involving fully clothes people.

Sarah Gadon did a great job in portraying the very complicated character of Grace Marks. I did find the acting of Dr. Simon Jordan a bit sub-par. I am not sure if they were trying to portray him as a bore, but he was rather dull and his voice was monotonous.

There have been many who say this movie shines a light at the horrible plight of women in a man’s world and how we still have to suffer these prejudices today. As a woman, I really don’t see it today. I am not naïve to the misogyny against women in the past, but today? I just haven’t experienced it. I can not think of one person or institution that has oppressed me solely based on my sex.

To me, this series wasn’t advocating for women’s rights today, it was speaking of the horrors done to a woman in a time when women had to endure so much because of the lack of resources given to them.

“Alias Grace” is a somber movie. The colors are dark and grey. It is not a thriller but a true mystery. The end is what I had guessed about half way through the series, but it was still a great story.

I recommend this movie to those who like gothic period movies or historical fiction.

Same Kind of Different as Me – Movie Review

Summary: This movie is about the lives of a very wealthy art dealer, his Christian wife and a black homeless man. As their lives fall apart, they then come together in a beautiful picture of Christian love, community and co-operation.

I will quickly admit this is not my type of movie. I am not really into emotional dramas. I read the book years ago and knew the plot, and from what I read, I knew the tears would tumble down if I saw the movies. They did. I was “forced” to go with a group of women (13 of us) from my church and as tears cascaded down the steps of the movie theater I vowed never to watch these kinds of movies again.

“Same King of Different as Me” is a very well made movie. The acting is superb and so is the story line. I was afraid they would make it too secular, but they didn’t. It is not overly religious either. Of course, like in any movie that was a book first, there is so much more I wish they put in, but I realize that directors are limited by time and money.  I did gasp when I realized I recognized Rene Zellweger’s voice, but not her face! I do remember reading somewhere that she had her uniquely beautiful, squinty eyes made larger. Pity. Either way, she did great in portraying  Deborah Hall and captured her humble and compassionate spirit. Djimon Hounsou is a tremendous actor, but he did struggle a little with Denver’s southern accent.  Other than that, the movie does inspire the Christian to get into the darkness and be a light to those who struggle being on their feet.

I recommend this movie to any drama or tear-jerker-movie lover. There is a brief scene where the couple deals with the pain of adultery, other than that the movie is very clean.

Here is my favorite Denver Moore quote: “I found out everybody’s different – the same kind of different as me. We’re all just regular folks walkin down the road God done set in front of us. The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in between, this earth ain’t no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless – just workin our way toward home.”

 

 

War for the Planet of the Apes

Summary:

War for the Planet of the Apes is the third installment of this phenomenal movie franchise. Humans have banded together and their forces are strong again, but it seems the Simian virus has mutated and is now affecting humans in a different way. Caesar and his troop have made the decision to move farther away from the humans and this decision has dire consequences. Along the way, they meet several different characters and the end is sad and satisfying.

My take:

I just can’t get over how detailed the CG was! It is shocking at just how real these apes look! There is a particular scene where Maurice (the orangutan) is trying to communicate with a human and the close up is amazing! For lack of a better word, the CG is beautiful. Overall the story line was okay. The title is a bit misleading – I would have considered Dawn of the Planet of the Apes more worthy of “war” in the title than this one. War of the Planet of the Apes was more of “Escape” of the Planet of the Apes.  The movie does explain more about the devolution of the humans and has hints of a continuation with the introduction of Nova.  There are several humorous scenes that my younger children enjoyed. The movie is not graphically gory, but a lot of apes are killed.  There is a lot of gunfire, arrows shooting and explosions. There are no flagrant bad words in the movie. The movie is moving and Caesar the suffering leader continues to suffer. Andy Serkins, who plays Caesar, does an incredible job as an animated actor. The scenes where Caesar is in emotional pain deserve recognition.

Recommendations:

If you haven’t seen the first two movies I would recommend that you see them first before watching this movie. If you liked the first two movies, you will also like this one. I personally liked the 2nd one more, but all my children preferred this one more. My two 8 year olds were entertained throughout the movie, my older boys (12, 14, 19) loved it! I don’t think tween girls would really like this type of movie, mine (11 years old) didn’t care much for it.

Going Deeper:

Throughout the movie I had an underlying thought about what if this was real, how would I react to these apes? More and more science is crossing over into areas like human DNA manipulation, cloning, IVF, gene manufacturing, and other areas quicker than I can form opinions. Then encompassing all this, our country is becoming less religious and more opinionated. Everyone has something to say about what is right and wrong and most have no moral standard except for their own thoughts and opinions. My hope though is when I come upon something scientifically new, that I may test it and hold on to the good and detest was is evil (Romans 12:9)

 

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – Movie Review

A movie with a talking raccoon with an attitude and a tree as his sidekick never really caught my interest. It seemed a little too fantastical and a bit pointless, but I am around teenagers a lot and when one of them had the Guardians of the Galaxy on DVD and we found out volume 2 was coming out in a week, I decided to give it a try.

The first movie was hilarious and I couldn’t wait to see the second one.

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is a continuation of the first. It’s main focus is on Star Lord Quill (Chris Pratt) and his daddy issues. We learn more about Quill and his mother and the movie has a main theme about what truly makes up family.

The animation is just beautiful and the make up is outstanding. I recently learned that the CG on Kurt Russell (Ego) to make him look young was minimal and most of it was really good makeup and really good acting.

The movie is funny and silly. There are moments of tenderness that almost did bring tears to my eyes, but overall it is a fun movie. I did find this movie to be more sexualized than the first one. There is a rather long scene that takes place in an alien brothel that I found a bit lengthy. There is also a scene where the conversation is about Ego’s penis. And another scene where Drax talks about his parent’s sex life. It is all a bit cringy. The acting did get a little silly and watered down, but I don’t think that’s the main purpose to this movie. It is a fun movie. One that cracked me up quiet a bit sometimes because of the outright silliness of it and sometimes because of true and witty scenes.

It would be a disservice to not mention the cuteness of Baby Groot and his simple-mindedness. He is so stinking cute! My daughter also really likes this character. I don’t know how Vin Diesel was able to make some of the sounds Groot made, but kudos for that.

The movie does leave on a cliffhanger and I look forward to Volume 3.

I recommend this movie to the Marvel fan and to those who loved part one. I also recommend it if you want to see a fun movie, with lots of action and great animation.

There is also a very important theme in this movie on fatherhood. As a foster parent some of the scenes towards the end were very moving. Do not miss the opportunity to talk to your children about what parenthood means.

 

Girl on a Train

I love thrillers and mysteries. When this movie was recommended to me on Netflix, I decided to give it a try.

The movie  focuses on three women and how their lives are creatively entwined to one man. It is a dark movie that delves into the damage addictions cause in these women and those around them. It is a movie where hope and dreams are lost and the sadness caused by these loses spiral the lives of these characters out of control. Overall the movie has a sad undertone.

The acting by Emily Blunt (who plays Rachel) was superb and her monologues truly mirrored the pain of a woman experiencing the sorrow of bareness, loneliness and loss.

As a Christian, I noticed all of the problems in this movie would have not existed had the characters decided to be faithful. Most of the characters in this movie have no problem with infidelity and the consequences caused by it. In the end, the movie blames the man. They portray the movie in a way so that you feel sorry for the adulteresses because they are in such horrible circumstances. If it wasn’t for these horrible men, all these women would  be so much happier.

As adults (regardless of gender), our actions result in certain consequences that not only affect us, but also affect our children and loved ones. I cannot expect to sleep with a married man, marry him and then expect fidelity. I cannot expect to be always seductive and then be taken seriously. I can’t expect the man who I am cheating with, who is also married with a baby to be a “nice guy”. I can’t expect there to be no consequences to my reckless behavior. So when the movie moves the viewer into sympathizing with only one person in a two-person problem, it really became annoying to me. It was basically Lifetime with a bigger budget and much better acting.

I really wanted a good thriller/mystery but I got a soap opera of love triangles and crazy women who can’t deal with the bed they have made for themselves. The movie started off with a good plot, but the feminist agenda reeked towards the end. I ended up hating this movie.

The movie does contain nudity and sexuality. There is also cussing.  There are several scenes that are traumatic in nature because of how violent they are. The movie is rated R for these reasons. If you have ever been in a violent relationship this movie will trigger your memories of abuse.

I can only recommend this movie to men and women who like Lifetime.

 

Smurfs, The Lost Village – Movie Review

I took my kids to see this movie last week and they loved it! Me, not so much.  Growing up, I really never watched the Smurf’s on TV, so maybe that’s why I really didn’t care much for it. The climax was unexpectantly better than I thought it would be and made up for the bland plot though, so it wasn’t a total loss.

This movie is about Smurfette and her trying to figure out why she is the only girl in the whole village. Good question! Later on, she, along with her other friends, stumble upon a lost village made up entirely of girls Smurfs. They escape Gargamel, his vulture and Azrael several times and there was one scene that was funny to me, but just one. The script was dull.

The movie does have a feminist leaning. The roar at the end being “You can be whatever you want to be (if you’re a girl) and you can do anything a man can do. What I hear is ” you are special because you are a girl, not because of any merit.” I wont get into how annoyed I was by this throughout the movie because my kids were oblivious to this message anyway, but it does feel like I am seeing this 3rd wave feminism everywhere now, and I do not want to be a part of it. Maybe I will write about this later, as for now, I’ll just roll my eyes and enjoy the fact that my kids are entertained for the moment.

Recommendations: Little girls. This movie is geared for girls. I don’t think tween boys and older will like this movie.

To the Christian: The movie is just fine for kids. There isn’t anything inappropriate in it that stood out to me.

Ghost in the Shell – Movie Review

When I saw the trailer to this movie, I was very excited to see it. The visuals and effects were mesmerizing.  And they are, but that is it. The plot is very bland, the characters are somewhat convincing, and where the movie tries to be emotional, it really comes out wanting. The best actor in the movie was Major’s mother, Hairi (Kaori Momoi). Her scenes (about 20 minutes total) were the most moving, despite the lack of emotion portrayed by Johansson.

This movie is set in a futuristic age where mostly everyone is a type of cyborg – humans with robotic features or robots with human features. Major’s (Scarlett Johansson) brain  is saved from an apparent crash and is the first of her kind. She is all robot except her brain and she struggles to find her identity throughout the movie. Is she a robot or is she human and how can she be both? Throughout the movie she finds out where she comes from, who she was, and how love prevails.

This is a movie set on the uniqueness of the protagonist, and unfortunately she really wasn’t that unique. I was disappointed in this. I am not into sci-fi that much, but even I can recognize a good story in a genre I  don’t enjoy extensively.

Recommendations: I can only recommend this movie to those who like the original anime. (Maybe, because I really do not know if the movie botched the story line of the anime or not.) Also, if you don’t care about movie depth and love great CG, then this would  be a good movie to watch. And to those who like cyborg/internet/sci-fi genres, then this may be a good fit.

To the Christian: The movie is rated PG-13. Frankly, Major looks naked half the time. The suit she wears is very close to looking like her skin, but there is a slight difference. There is a moment when she is very close to another female and it looks like they are about to kiss, but thankfully they don’t. There are cuss words thrown through out. I really don’t think I would let my teenagers watch this. They’re not missing out on much. If they like great CG, I would recommend they watch Kong – Skull Island instead.