Deepwater Horizon

Movies
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The tragic sequence of events at the Deepwater Horizon oil platform led to the worst ecological disaster in U.S. history. This movie could have been about that, but it wasn’t. The circumstances that led to the eventual tragedy on Deepwater Horizon was the result of many factors, including corporate greed supplanting the need for sound, safe practices; it wasn’t the only factor, but it was certainly one of them. This movie could have easily been about the evils of corporate greed and what it ultimately cost, but it wasn’t. Instead, what the Deepwater Horizon movie is about is the people who were involved with incredible event that has had such a long-lasting impact on everything from ecology to businesses to personal lives. This movie doesn’t look to assign blame or complicity; it simply reminds us of the lives that were so deeply affected by what happened on that rig. Instead of being preachy or political, Deepwater Horizon is a deeply personal and emotional movie, and all the more powerful because of that.


Deepwater Horizon

Movies
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Deepwater Horizon is one of those movies that is very enjoyable to watch while at the same time being hard to enjoy.  Not trying to be oxymoronic, but walking out of the theater I couldn’t help but comment on how amazing the movie was from all aspects of film criticism and yet I felt exhausted and abused by the intense story that unfolds over almost 2 hours.  Most who see the film will be familiar with the events that occurred six years ago in the Gulf of Mexico.  But like the recent film Sully, chances are you will also learn a few new things about the disaster and the people involved.  Having recently enjoyed Sully, I can see a pattern emerge in what can appropriately be called “disaster” movies.  Where it would be easy to become political and play bad guy vs good guy and take sides, these films have stepped above the easy story to weave a more complicated tale of the people who lived the real life disasters.  And that is where Deepwater Horizon really shines, by bringing the audience alongside the drilling rig workers and BP executives as they experience the events that unfolded on April 20th 2010.


Sully

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With a 155 lives at stake, including his own, and only seconds in which to make a decision that could decide all of their fates, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made the decision to land his dying Airbus 320 on the Hudson River in the middle of New York City. It was January, the water was freezing, the air was freezing, it was a tremendously dangerous and risky move to make, but Captain Sully quickly determined it was the best of their many limited options with time quickly running out. And so, on January 15th, 2009, New York City witnessed a miracle, the Miracle on the Hudson, as Captain Sully not only safely landed his plane in the river, but also was able to make sure all 155 people on board walked away alive and well. It was an extraordinary event, and now the new movie Sully lets us in on the rest of the story.


Kubo and the Two Strings

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Kubo 1In case your time is short, let me start of by saying go see this movie.  Its easily one of my favorite movies of all time.  Kubo and the Two Strings tells the story of a young child who as an infant in the opening scenes is on the run with his mother and attacked by some mysterious force.  Later in life, Kubo is tending to his mother who appears to be suffering from some sort of dementia.  When Kubo is not tending to his mother’s needs, he goes to town to tell his amazing stories and use his magic to bring Origami figures to life.  Every evening, Kubo must return by Kubo 3sun down to tend to his mother who seems invigorated by the moon and yet still suffers from some mysterious illness.  When attacked again, a story of adventure and discovery is set in motion. Kubo will travel across many a mysterious land to discover his identity and in doing so, learn the greatest story of all.


Pete’s Dragon

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Let’s be honest, Pete’s Dragon wasn’t exactly a Disney classic that was crying out for a remake. Yes, many of us have some fond nostalgia for the film, but it really isn’t the best Disney movie, and certainly not one that I would have thought would be at the top of the list of potential remakes. However, Disney once again has proven their savvy by taking what is admittedly a fairly dorky film and turning it into a truly heartwarming and uplifting film. In fact, while the “classic” status of the original is rather debatable, the modern remake is easily one of Disney’s best, and is truly a modern classic.


Pete’s Dragon

Movies

Petes 3Pete’s Dragon captures the essence of old Disney movies and updates it into modern story with the latest movie magic. What is the result? A family friendly movie that easily sits in the top 5 movies released in 2016.  First, I want to clarify what I mean by the “essence” of old Disney movies.  When I think of old Disney movies (I am not talking cartoons, per se), I think of joyful movies with positive moral messages that are playful and fun.  And Pete’s Dragon has that in spades!  You have wonder filled adventure, magical moments, and an antagonist that is not really a villain and by the end of the movie finds redemption.  You don’t have any of the hatefulness that often pervades modern movies.  When the heroes interact with the antagonist, its playful and humorous.  There are plenty of positive moral elements like honor, integrity, faithfulness, and truthfulness.  I felt like I was watching a modern classic which does not happen often these days and left this reviewer pleasantly surprised.


Suicide Squad

Movies
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Suicide-Squad-2016-Task-Force-X-MovieIts been over a year since Suicide Squad was first teased and during the course of a year came the hope that the film could kick the DC franchise back into gear after a disappointing Batman V. Superman.  Mission accomplished?  Not exactly, it’s not the blockbuster it could have been, but I think most fans will enjoy the film none-the-less.  Suicide Squad walks that grey ground between good and great.  It’s an average story that falls short of its potential as do a few key scenes near the end of the movie.  However, the casting pulls this movie up from average into almost being great.  The trailers seem to focus on Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in her first big screen harleyappearance.  And Margot does an amazing Harley Quinn, I liked her a lot.  But the real scene stealer was Will Smith as Deadshot.  Will truly delivers a summer blockbuster performance and shines as the villain walking the line.  Now the question on everyone’s mind – did Jared Leto deliver the Joker?  He had some pretty big shoes to fill and unfortunately, I have to say the jury is still out.  Why?  First, Joker was not given the screen time really needed for Jared to stretch his wings and define his character.  Second, his scenes were few and far between and felt more like plot device than a strong character.  If you saw the trailers and thought, can’t wait – you will walk out satisfied.  If you were skeptical, you probably still are and if like me, you were waiting to see more, chances are you still want to see more.


Nerve

Movies
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I heard a lot of hype about Nerve being a well-timed movie for the augmented reality gaming that Pokémon Go has ushered into prime time.  However, Nerve is not an augmented reality game nor is the movie focused on the “gaming” aspect but more on the voyeurism and device based living of current times.  It’s a look at platforms such as Facebook LIVE and handheld device addiction through the lens of dare based game in which users are either players or watchers.  Are you brave enough to play, or are you a voyeur, hiding behind anonymity to watch the players compete in ever increasing risky dares?  That is one of the first questions that hits the audience, what type of person are you?  Assuming the audience members are plugged in and hooked on watching friends and strangers alike live out their lives on a device is an assumption lurking in the background that may be lost on the audience.  An assumption that shows the direction social media has taken society – to device based voyeurism.  Why do I say all this?  Small spoiler alert – the movie has a message to consider and as such tries to put a nice fancy bow on some issues that leaves this reviewer a bit unhappy with the ending.  I’d rather leave some items open for interpretation rather than spell out the agenda in the last 10 minutes.


Jason Bourne

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Jason Bourne feels like a rebuttal from director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon to the Bourne Legacy’s attempt to expand the Bourne universe without Jason Bourne. It’s as though they’re trying to say, “This is how you make a Jason Bourne movie.” And to emphasize the most important element, they even named it Jason Bourne. While it’s clear that Greengrass and Damon know exactly what it is that makes a Bourne movie work, it’s also clear that they struggled to come up with a really good reason to bring the character back in the first place. The trilogy of Identity, Supremacy, and Ultimatum had such a perfect sense of symmetry and provided such a satisfying character arc for Jason Bourne that it was hard to imagine what could possibly be added. Apparently the answer to that is “nothing,” for this new Bourne movie doesn’t add anything new to the character or his journey, but instead retreads some familiar territory while also tossing in some elements to make the film’s events seem frighteningly relevant. In the end, however, that simply leaves with a Bourne movie that while good and entertaining, it’s also one that ultimately is unsatisfying.


The Secret Life of Pets

Movies
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SLOP WDIf you caught the first preview for The Secret Life of Pets, showing all fun pets have while their owners are away, chances are you were looking forward to seeing this movie.  I mean, come on, who would not want to see Leonard the prize poodle head bang to System of Down?  The pretentious owners “now you be a good boy Leonard” leaves the viewer celebrating Leonard’s rebellion as he flips from  Mozart over to head banging music!  However, the second preview may have left a bit of confusion in the wake of such an enticing first preview.  Rightly so my friends, as this movie has two distinct stories which are portrayed in the previews and left me confused as to why they are both in the same movie…SLOP Toilet

First you have the pure joy as we watch the pets live out their secret lives.  Previews gave tantalizing hints at most of the secret lives but seeing them lived out in their fullness was fun and had many a belly laugh coming from the audience.  Illumination Entertainment did a wonderful job of capturing unique mannerisms and characteristics of each type of pet.  This leaves audience members familiar with the types of pets joyfully nodding and smiling at their routines.  The movie could have continued to build a strong story of how these secret lives intertwine and play out in a downtown New York apartment and I imagine set up an amazing franchise building into larger stories.  However, now enters story number two.

After introductions to each pet, a new pet shows up and suddenly the balance of power is shaken up and results in a lost pet.  This is what we are SLOP Rabbitintroduced to in subsequent previews, the world of discarded and lost pets.  Pets whose soul desire is the destruction of pet owners and human kind in general.  Again, this could be a solid movie plot, pets tossed aside for newer or better pets.  Pets lost and never found.  Pets who have a beef with humanity grouping together to seek revenge…  But this story is such an antithesis to the first part of the movie it feels schizophrenic. Memorable characters are introduced in each story but never fully cross over between the stories.  So the viewer is left with two stories which could easily stand on their own (and probably should) put in the same movie leaving each to suffer.

With the suffering stories, the viewers are still taken on a fun ride.  Throughout the movie are the mannerisms and pet mayhem that keep viewers smiling and excited for the next pet reveal.  By the end of the movie, the stories may be confusing but the characters are fun.  Unfortunately, and unlike Finding Dory the characters in Secret Life of Pets can’t keep this movie afloat.

 

3.5 out of 7 – (I am sure most kids would give this a 5, because I mean its pets and its fun!) Family friendly fun but a note of caution should be given to the pets seeking revenge on humanity, it’s a bit over the top at times…