Dark Waters

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This is a true story that is just shocking because you have no option but to accept the fact that the world is full of just evil people who do terrible things to people over money.  There is no denying it.  Some companies have individuals who will hide the most amoral acts because for these acts to be revealed will lose the companies money.

Mark Ruffalo is tremendous as always playing a real life hero Robert “Rob” Bilott, a corporate lawyer who gets involved with a farmer from his hometown whose cows are dying at an alarming rate.  Turns out that the corporation DuPont has been dumping poisonous chemicals into West Virginia landfills that comes from the creation of Teflon.

Watching what this case does to Mark Ruffalo’s character is one of the biggest takeaways from this movie.  The affect of this case on his health, his marriage, his career is just shocking, making this real life man all the more heroic in that he continued to fight through all of the years.

And watching DuPont pull their dirty, underhanded tricks was just as powerful.  Victor Gerber played DuPont CEO Phil Donnelly and there are times when even he shows the anguish of what he is doing to hide this secret.  Gerber does a great job providing this monster of a man with some humanity after all.

Rob’s wife Sarah (Anne Hathaway) is as affected by the case as her husband is and you see how she deals with the stress and, at times, the danger that she has been brought into unwillingly.  Anne Hathaway gives a top notch and human performance.

The investigation of the case is fascinating and very interesting to me.  I am amazed at some of the things that happen and admire the individuals involved for their perseverance.

The movie did get a tad long at times, but it actually does an admirable job following this case along for what turned out to be years.  It was the third movie I saw today and that may have contributed to the feeling of length for me.

This movie poster says that “from Participant, who brought you Spotlight and The Post.”  Participant is a production company that has apparently done a bunch of really great movies.  Spotlight and The Post both share some DNA with Dark Waters.  They have the same feel and the same tone to them.  Hopefully they continue to find these true stories that deserve more focus because I had no idea about this until I saw the promotion of this movie.  And this is something that we all should know.

4.1 stars 

 

Playmobil: The Movie

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I do not think that I am going to have much to say about this one.

It was terrible.

It was a poor man’s Lego Movie and it did not work anywhere near that.

We started with live action as Anya Taylor-Joy as Marla and Gabriel Bateman as Charlie, a brother and sister whose parents died in a car crash years ago and that moment shifted their relationship.  They wind up getting caught in a mysterious world where they are PLAYMOBIL® characters with their locked out legs and pincher fingers.  They get separated (Charlie, who is in a body of a viking with super strength) and Marla has to try to find her brother before it is too late.

The story was dumb.  The voice acting was adequate.  The animation was fine, but it was clearly wanting to be more like The Lego Movie and it fails at that.

Instead of trying to be the Lego Movie, it should have been its own thing and find the strength of PLAYMOBIL®.  There did not seem to be any.  It was dull and predictable and the secondary characters all made me think of other, more iconic characters.  There was a character that made me think of James Bond.  One that made me think of Boba Fett.  One that made me think of Zach Galifianakis.  Pirate guy too.  The villain was basically Nero from Rome.  Just imitations of better toys or characters.

This is already more than I intended to talk about this movie.  The music was pretty lacking as well.  Save yourself some time and just re-watch The Lego Movie.  It is much better .

1.6 stars 

Honey Boy

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Shia LaBeouf based this film on his own personal experiences.  This makes me want to reconsider my thoughts on Shia as an actor because he clearly had demons that he had to get through.

Honey Boy stars Shia LaBeouf as James Lort, the father and personal assistant of a young child star named Otis (Noah Jupe).   We also see Otis as a young adult (Lucas Hedges) facing the darkness of his past while he is in rehab.  Honey Boy plays out in both time lines with powerhouse performances as the relationship between father and son takes center stage.

Noah Jupe is downright spectacular.  The brilliance of this performance, as he has to face off with Shia LaBeouf in a high percentage of scenes, is unbeleivable.  This young actor goes through so many emotions and feelings during this film and he does so believably and passionately.  It is one of the best child performances of the year, if not the decade.  So much rides on this young boy to carry the weight of these scenes in the face of Shia LaBeouf, who is giving one of the best performances of his own career.  Noah Jupe makes this film.

I was less impressed with Lucas Hedges in the older Otis role because I feel as if I had seen this before.  Still, I don’t want to criticize him too badly because there is some solid work by Hedges, but the film really pops when Shia LaBeouf and Noah Jupe are on the screen.

Every moment that Shia LaBeouf and Noah Jupe share you feel the sensation that at any second all hell could break loose.  It is a noticeable anxiety faced by the audience between these two characters.  You can see how much young Otis just wants to have his father be a father to him, but you are always wondering if James is capable of doing that.  No matter how cruel or obnoxious James is, Otis wants a real relationship.

You can tell that James loves his son, but it seems as if he does not trust himself to be worthy of Otis, especially with Otis in a more prominent position as money provider.

There are some dark and heartbreaking scenes in this movie that stick with you long after you leave the theater.  It is truly an intimate story from the world of fame and the personal struggles that go along with it.

4.3 stars

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

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I am about halfway through Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and I am not sure I will get through the rest.  This is way worse than I remember.

The goal, of course, is to watch the prequels in preparation for the final Episode of the Star Wars saga, The Rise of Skywalker, which opens on December 20th.

Still, this is tough.

There was more light saber use in the first 20 minutes of this movie than there was in the entire trilogy prior.  That is not a good thing.

Jar Jar Binks.  Ugh.  Just horrendous.

The dialogue?  Cringeworthy.  Actually, cringeworthy may be too kind of a description.

Poor little Jake Lloyd.  It really isn’t his fault.  He was doing his best, but Anakin Skywalker introduced in this manner was a huge mistake.  Of course, Jake was not the worst actor on the screen.  His mother was barely registering any emotion.  Jake did not deserve the amount of hate that he garnered for the role.

There are so many racist characters in this movie.  Completely unnecessary.

Liam Neeson and Ewan McGregor could have done so much more than what they were given.  The villainous Darth Maul was wasted in the movei for, what was basically, one fight.  That fight with the Jedis was pretty decent, but there could have been so much more.

Oh, and these Jedis sure are quick to use violence to solve their problems.  I thought that was the quickest way to the Dark Side.  Maybe I misunderstood.

The inclusion of C3PO and R2D2 really felt awkward.  So C3PO was made by young Vader?  Hm, that sounds odd.

Midi-chlorians?  Quick way to take the power of the universe that surrounds us all and turn it into a weird blood virus.  To be fair, Star Wars realized that this was a huge mistake and kind of let these midi-chlorians fade away into the ether.

Hey, it is Greg Proops!  I knew that voice of the pod race announcer and, when I looked it up, I found the awesome Mr. Proops, one of the rotating regulars of Whose Line is it Anyway.  I have found a positive!

These movies miss that practical effect feel that the original trilogy had.  This is way too “clean” for what it should have been.  Too much green screen.  It makes these movies too artificial.

I had hoped to find something more than I remembered in this film, but, alas, there may be even less.

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Return of the Jedi (1983)

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Bringing George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy to a close is Return of the Jedi, Episode VI.  Return of the Jedi is a, mostly, satisfying conclusion to the original trilogy and kept the Star Wars fans happy for years after its release.

Return of the Jedi begins with one of the best action pieces in the entire series, the attack on Jabba’s compound on Tatooine.  With every new piece the movie sets up a tremendous battle over the Great Pit of Carkoon where the sarlacc lives.  All of our heroes are involved and we get to see both the new and improved Jedi Knight Luke and the recently out of carbonite Han.  Metal bikini clad Leia completed the trio with her mastery of choke chains.

The second part of the movie is less consistent as the opening scene, though it is still very compelling.  The whole Luke-Vader-Emperor angle of the film is just amazing, with Luke’s determination to save his father’s soul being a huge driving force for the film.  The confrontation between Luke and the Emperor is tense and nerve-wracking.  However, the section on Endor with the Ewoks feels too cute and cuddly.  It is believed that the main purpose of the Ewoks was to sell toys.

Of course, there are some good moments with the Ewoks too.  Rumor has it though that the Ewoks were originally intended to be Wookies, which would have been all forms of epic.  It would have made more sense to see the Wookies help take down the Imperial forces than it was to see the Ewoks.  Branches and rocks vs. blasters and AT-AT does not make much strategic logic.

Yet, the death of Nanta the Ewok is a very emotional scene, considering they are just teddy bears.

In the end, Return of the Jedi is am enjoyable end to the Star Wars trilogy.  The good parts are fantastic and the weaker parts are still decent.  Return of the Jedi leads into what seems like a happy ending for our heroes and its fans.

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The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

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We are now about three weeks away from the conclusion to the Star Wars saga with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Episode IX.  Even though a bit of the polish has come off the series for some because of the divisiveness of The Last Jedi, I am still very much looking forward to the conclusion of this saga.

In order to prepare for the movie, I wanted to watch the films prior to the final episode and it makes it easy with Disney + available.  Since I have already done Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope for Doc’s Classic Movies Reviewed, I decided to start with the second Star wars movie in chronological order, The Empire Strikes Back.

In sense, I believe that the creators of Star Wars have been chasing Empire ever since it came out in 1980 because it is such a brilliant movie.  It is the best of the Star Wars films, period.  I know there are some who may not agree with that statement, but I have it firmly on top of my best Star Wars movies list.

It is such a dark time for our heroes.  The Rebellion is in trouble.  Han is preparing to go face Jabba the Hut.  Luke is struggling to become a Jedi.  The Empire is hot on their trail.  Vader has some kind of jones for Luke.

Yet there is joy in the little things.  Han and Leia are discovering their love, even if it is a rocky trip to get there.  Luke and Han are cementing their bromance as Han saves Luke from freezing to death on the ice planet of Hoth.  We meet Yoda and Lando.  The relationships in the film are note perfect and develop throughout the hardships that surrounded them.

Of course, we have some of the most iconic confrontations, not just in Star Wars canon, but in movie history.  The whole “I love you“… “I know” bit is a perfect encompassing of the Han & Leia relationship (which was an ad-lib by Harrison Ford).  And, of course, the iconic “I am your father” line blew the mind of everybody watching.  I remember when I first saw it as a eleven year old, I did not believe it to be true.  Even after searching my feelings, I could not comprehend that Vader was Luke’s father.

The feeling of defeat is all over this film, setting us up for a rousing return in Episode VI.  I plan on watching The Return of the Jedi next, perhaps tomorrow.  Then, I will go back to the prequels, something I have not done since seeing them for the first time.  Perhaps they will hold more for me this time through.

As for The Empire Strikes Back, it is one of the great movies around and a member of the EYG Hall of Fame.

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The Report

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Adam Driver is going to have a month of a lifetime.  First, this is released for all to see on Amazon Prime.  Soon he will be on Netflix in Marriage Story, a performance that may get him nominated for an Oscar, and then he will be in the final Star Wars movie< The Rise of Skywalker.  Most actors would kill for just one such project in a yer, let alone before the end of the month of December.

The Report is the first of his trifecta and it tells the story of the attempts by Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) and Senator Diane Feinstein (Annette Bening) to complete and release a report that investigated the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program and their use of “advanced interrogation techniques” aka torture in the days, weeks and years after 9/11.

Daniel Jones compiled a report of around 6,700 pages over seven years of investigation.  Seven years where he had many roadblocks tossed in his path including threats of prison and loss of his job.  Eventually, with the backing of Senator Feinstein, a condensed 500 page report was released condemning the practices used by the CIA as cruel and ineffective.

This film showed some American heroes who believed that how this country carried itself is as important as anything.  The Report is remarkably relevant in today’s world where it seems that what we do is not held to the highest regard any more.

The Report carries most of its drama through the talking of the actors so their words needed to be compelling and engaging.  For the most part, it was.  There are some moments when the film dragged a bit, but Adam Driver pulls everyone back on board as soon as that happens.  Driver is certainly the most important character on the screen.

Annette Bening’s work as Diane Feinstein is very important to Driver’s performance.  She supports him and helps him every step of the way, providing the confidence and aid that moved the report forward.  The film showed Feinstein as a senator willing to do what she believed was right even if it was not the most politically sensible choice to make.  Again, very relevant in the Senate today.

The release of this movie is very coincidental, but it could not have turned out better for it.  These type of political thrillers depend on a griping story and powerful performances and The Report has both of these.  It is currently available on Amazon Prime.

3.75 stars 

Noelle

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A few years ago, the late, great Jon Schnepp was on Movie Talk on Collider and the topic of this movie, at the time named ‘Nicole,’ came up, and the EYG Hall of Famer cut loose on it.

Ugh, why’d it have to go to me first?  Um…hey, what’s up everybody?  You know what…I…sometimes when I have nothing to do just sitting, maybe, on the toilet having some ocnstipation, I think about things like, “I wonder what would happen if… uh… Santa… what if he couldn’t…what if he couldn’t get to the sleigh and his son also was afraid…what would happen…what would happen? (Fart sound) Oh (bubble sound) *Shrugs shoulders*

It was an epic rant that just destroyed the rest of the panel (Jeremy Johns took several moments to regain his composure).  It was one of those Schnepp moments that made him who he was.  I never forgot that.

So when Noelle was on Disney +, I realized that this was the movie Schepp had roasted.  It did not inspire me to watch it.  However, eventually I put the film on one Saturday night.

And it was not that bad.  I would even go as far as to say that I liked it.

Santa Claus has died and his son Nick (Bill Hader) was supposed to take over, but he was not feeling his destiny. His sister Noelle (Anna Kendrick) tried to convince him by telling him to take a weekend to himself.  So Nick ran on and disappeared.

Because of his rejection of the Santa hat, the people in charge chose a new person to take over the mantel, but this guy (Billy Eichner) was extremely harsh on the naughty of the world, sending text messages to kids who bit their fingernails or other such minor offenses saying that they would not be receiving anything from Santa this year.  He was also looking to change the delivery system into something resembling Amazon Prime.

This sent Noelle out to the real world in an attempt to find Nick and save Christmas.

The major thing that this movie has going for it is the absolute charm of Anna Kendrick.  She is 100% the reason to watch this movie.  She is wonderful as the naive Noelle who does not understand what the real world is like, who still wears her fur outfit in the Arizona heat and who does not know what sunscreen is.  She plays Noelle as such a sweet spirit of goodness and light that you cannot help but like her.

Her relationship with Bill Hader is very strong as well and the pairing was gold in several instances.  Throw in Shirley MacLaine as Elf Polly and you have a comedy team for the holidays.

Yes the story is predictable and there is not that much that we haven’t seen before in such films as The Santa Clause, but Anna Kendrick is such a winning personality that I think this is a film that families can enjoy together during the holidays. There is a positive message and some actually clever writing with some of the dialogue.

I was absolutely ready to rip this up as Jon Schnepp did, but it had won me over with its charm and pizzazz.

3.4 stars

Midway (2019)

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It has been several weeks since Midway came out and I have been unable to see it.  It was not that I did not want to see it, but it was not fitting into my schedule and facing other movies that I wanted to see more.

However, the Roland Emmerich directed film stuck around for a few weeks and I was able to see it today.

Because I knew that the score for Midway on Rotten Tomatoes was in the 40% range, I entered the theater with low expectations.

In the end, Midway was okay.  I enjoyed it enough.

This was the story of one of the most vital battles in the Pacific that helped turn the tide of World War II to the United States over the Japanese forces after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The film contained a group of real people who were involved in the battle, providing a level of realness to the epic tale.

However, and this is the biggest problem of the movie, Midway never takes the time to really get to know these people.  The characters are sorely underdeveloped and the audience does not necessarily even know who was who outside of one or two characters.

I saw one character as Woody Harrelson with a blonde wig because that is who played him.  Patrick Wilson got a little focus, mainly because he tried to tell the people in charge about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The codebreakers that he was in charge of were probably the most interesting part of the film, but were really delegated to the back seat.  In truth, these people, who in their few moments were shown as quirky, were the real heroes of this story.

The pilots were great and the CGI looked pretty solid, but many of these characters were interchangeable.  Ed Skrein’s character, Dick Best, was the lead of the pilots and had the most screen time.  Almost all of the others were just people.  When they would die, I felt nothing for them because they were just cannon fodder.

The action was good, but I had trouble telling the difference between planes and some of the air fights were hard to follow.  I did like how the film would go into the Japanese soldiers for the thoughts of their leaders.  It gave a face to the other side that you usually do not get in a war movie.

I’m not a huge fan of Roland Emmerich films, but this one is one of the better ones. Midway is not a perfect film by any stretch, but it was a good example of a war film where the most important aspect is the battle.

3.4 stars

 

 

Pinocchio (1940)

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Holy cow.  It had been a long time since I saw Disney’s Pinocchio and I did not remember just how dark this thing was.

Man, this animated film was scarier than many of the horror movies that came out this year.

Legitimately, the scene where Pinocchio was turning into the donkey, especially the spot where the shadow was being shown was frightening. The entire sequence with the whale Monstro was as intense of a stretch as yo are going to have in an animated film.  The wicked creatures such as Stromboli, Honest John, and the Coachman never get any comeuppance for their foul deeds.

I am 100% certain that there were several nightmares induced from this film.

There is also a good message here about doing the right thing and not lying, but it is all encompassed with the nightmare juice.

I really enjoyed it.

Of course, I would not recommend you show your 8-year old this movie.  Wait until they are a little older.  But Pinocchio is an iconic film with some of the most well-known Disney songs of all time, including “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

Pinocchio was naive as could be, believing just about anything these characters told him.  One of those “born yesterday” things.  But his bravery in face of the raging Monstro helped lead him to becoming a real boy.

The animation for 1940 was beautiful and added to the entire presentation.  Considered one of the greatest animated movies of all time.

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Madness in the Method

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I was watching Collider Live’s Thanksgiving episode and Roxy Striar, one of the co-hosts of the YouTube show, said that she was thankful for her chance to be in a movie this year with Stan Lee.  I had no idea what that was.

So I went to IMDB so see what movie Roxy was in this year.  It told me that it was Madness in the Method.  It was directed by and starred Jason Mewes, the “Jay” in the Jay and Silent Bob pairing from Kevin Smith movies.

It was on Amazon Prime so I gave it a chance because I love Roxy and, of course, Stan Lee.

As this movie started, I hated what I saw.  I found this really dumb and idiotic. It was heading toward my worst list of the year.

And then, strangely, I started to find some of the film oddly funny.  There were a bunch of cameos and guest stars that were fun. Where the film seemed to take a bit of a twist was when Dean Cain arrived in a cameo.  He was really funny and it changed my perception of the film.

The story, based on Mewes finding a book on Method acting that causes him to change who he is, becomes very dark.  It was ridiculous but I was not hating it any more.

Mewes, playing himself, as he followed the evil Method, was becoming darker and more wicked with each second and the more darkness he showed, the film got better.   Don’t misunderstand me, it was not good, but it was no longer going to be the horrid film that it looked like the direction it was heading.

Vinnie Jones was great too, as was his eventual fate.  I enjoyed Kevin Smith too.

The movie was not great.  In fact, I can’t recommend it, but if you want a silly stupid movie, this could give you some fun.

Loved seeing Roxy.

2.1 stars

 

The Irishman

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There has been a lot of hype surrounding the new Netflix film, The Irishman, over the last several months from word-of-mouth from the limited theaters that had hosted screenings to the film’s director’s battle of words with Marvel films and fans.  In the end, The Irishman was released on Thanksgiving and lived up to the hype, mostly.

Martin Scorsese assembled a group of actors who have become synonymous with him and told an epic tale of mob life and crime.  Based on the novel I Heard You Pain Houses by Charles Brandt, The Irishman follows truck driver turned hitman Frank Sheeran (Robert DeNiro) as he ingratiated himself into the world of organized crime.  Frank became very close to Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), head of the Northeastern Pennsylvania crime family.

Soon, Frank meets Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), the head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and becomes close with him as well.

Hoffa, of course, is the infamous Union head who disappeared in 1975 and was never found.  There have been countless of theories over the years of what has happened to Jimmy Hoffa and this film is one of the more recent ones.

I have to say that the de-aging technology done on this movie was utterly brilliant. There was almost none of the tells that you some times see in other movies that try to de-age its actors.  The only scene that was obvious was the “hand-breaking” scene and that was because Robert DeNiro had to physically assault someone and it clearly looked like an old man moving and kicking at his victim.  That was the only time that the CGI pulled me out of the story and I wished they had used a body double for that one scene.  Otherwise, the de-aging process was flawless.

And, without saying, the cast was unbeleivable.  Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci (who came out of semi-retirement to do this role), Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, Anna Paquin, Steven Graham, Jesse Plemons, Bobby Cannavale lead the massive ensemble.  DeNiro was exceptional in the role, leading us through the narrative, first as an old man in a nursing home and then into flashbacks to tell the story.  I enjoyed the structure of the film as well.

It was incredibly long but I did not feel it as much as I might had I been sitting in a theater.  I paused it several times as I watched it on Netflix for lunch or restroom breaks etc.  The film was a definite slow burn as it moved the story along at a snail pace, but the moments were filled with great story telling or character development.

I suppose the one major issue I had with The Irishman was that it lacked an emotional pay off.  I was not deeply connected emotionally to the characters so when I discovered what the film said their fates were, it was like, yeah, okay, what is next.  I think the storytelling, production and performances were masterful, it is just lacking that wallop of an emotional beat.

It does give a very clear message to how deadly the mob was.  Every time we came across a minor character, we would learn at what point he would die and in what manner, whether it is shot in the head or whatever.  That was very effective.

This is one of my favorite Martin Scorsese movies.  It is one of the most Martin Scorsese movie in a long time.  It was a really great film.

4.5 stars

Queen & Slim

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I have heard this movie being referred to as a “black Bonnie & Clyde.”  That reference is even made in the film itself, but that does not feel very accurate.

Bonnie & Clyde were criminals and made their decision to do so.  In the film Queen & Slim, Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) and Queen (Jodie Turner-Smith) wind up in trouble because of fate and they really had little to no choice.

On a first date, Slim and Queen wind up pulled over by a cop who clearly had racially inspired intentions and, in a struggle with him, kill the police officer.  They go on the run, sparking a nation-wide manhunt and inspiring African-Americans with their plight.

Slim and Queen had a case of self-defense with the cop, and it feels as if the cop’s camera would have supported the argument, but it was obvious that neither of them believed that they would get a fair shake.  Queen was even a lawyer, but she was the first of them to insist that they run.

These thoughts are thoughts that I cannot relate to because I have never had someone look at me and pre-judge me as black people are.  A police officer approaching my car is an entire different situation than it would be for an African-American, and it is a situation that I will never be in, thankfully.

So their decisions are understandable, even though I cannot necessarily relate to them.

The rest of the film is a road trip movie as the two characters attempt to flee from the authorities.

The performances of the two lead actors are great.  Daniel Kaluuya is exceptional as Slim, and newcomer Jodie Turner-Smith shows that she has a bright future.  How this relationship develops across the movie is fascinating considering that they went from first date via Tinder to crossing the country as fugitives.  The strains on the couple show early and, as they continue to grow closer, the romantic aspect of being on the run seem to draw them closer.

I am not sure this would be a relationship that would last forever because being thrust together in such a violent and sudden manner may not create the deepest connection.

One of the more controversial aspects of the film is how the killing of the cop by Slim resonates with the black community of the country, so much so that there are black people along Slim & Queen’s path that go out of their way to aid them and prevent their capture, despite there being a heavy bounty on their heads.  The film is showing how that powder keg of racial instability is still alive in the US and how it does not take much to ignite it once again.

The film did feel a little long, but it is beautifully shot and the length allows the audience to get to know our two characters deeper.  I think that you could shave off maybe ten minutes and the film would be tighter, but it is a minor critique.

By the way, the character of Uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine) stole every scene he was in and was one of the most fascinating characters on the docket.  I would have loved to have seen more with him.

Queen & Slim was a provocative movie that had a message about racial divisiveness and life for black people.  It does not simply portray anyone in one manner, as both sides are seen as problematic.  It is a strong film, directed well by Melina Matsoukas.  You’ll come out thinking.

3.9 stars

The Knight Before Christmas

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Netflix continues to provide a manner of movies on their streaming service and there are some big name ones coming very soon (The Irishman, Marriage Story etc).  Before these come out though, I wanted to finish up one I started this past weekend.

The Knight Before Christmas is a silly Christmas story that has some charm and is actually fairly easy to watch.  I expected it to be really bad, and if surely is not a great movie, but for what it is, The Knight Before Christmas is a decent holiday film.

A knight from the 14th century named Sir Cole (John Whitehouse) is magically transported into the future where he meets a woman Brooke (Vanessa Hudgens) in an effort to find his true Knight’s quest.

The “fish out of water” theme is in full display in this movie as Cole attempts to find his quest among the modern day conveniences of the 21st century.  He handles the changes remarkably well… even the magic box (TV) and “Lady Alexa Play” (Alexa).

Both John Whitehouse and Vanessa Hudgens are likable enough for the roles that they are playing here.  This is absolutely just a feel good Christmas movie, but there are times for films like that.

If you are looking for a nice little rom com about a knight around Christmas time, The Knight Before Christmas is a harmless way to spend an hour and a half.

3 stars

Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary

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By Grabthar’s hammer, by the Sons of Warvan, you shall be avenged!”

I was watching Screen Junkies one day and they wound up talking about their upcoming documentary through Fandom about one of the great movies of the late 1990s, Galaxy Quest.  They spoke about a one-night presentation with the people at Fathom Events.

I have always enjoyed the Screen Junkies.  In particular, I am a fan of Dan Murrell, who I got to know through Movie Fights and the Schmoedown. And I loved the movie Galaxy Quest, arguably a better Star Trek movie than many of the Star Trek movies that have been released.  I immediately went and purchased my ticket.

That was around a month ago and tonight was the night for the documentary to be shown.  I made my way to the theater, ready to be informed and entertained.

Murrell, along with producer Roth Cornet, writers Joe Starr and Spencer Gilbert, started the doc off with the Honest Trailer for Galaxy Quest.  Honest Trailer is the online weekly show where they create a trailer of a popular or famous movie and poke fun at it.  They have been nominated for several Emmy Awards for Honest Trailers.  The bit at the beginning was funny and showed some of the personality that this group of people have.

Then the actual documentary started and the film remained entertaining and engaging.

Of course, the subject matter was not earth shaking, but a light-weight romp through the making of a movie, told through interviews with the creators and actors of Galaxy Quest, highlighting the pratfalls and challenges along the way.

Many of the stories told by director Dean Parisot where very funny and insightful.  We got interviews with stars Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Enrico Colantoni, Sam Rockwell, and Daryl Mitchell.  There was conversations with Greg Berlanti (Flash/Arrow), Damon Lindelof (LOST) and Mark Johnson (Rain Man, Narnia) as well as other iconic sci-fi stars such as Wil Wheaton and Brent Spiner.

The stories were all funny or filled with a joy that showed just how much this project meant to the creators.

They also spent some time on the importance of treating the fans with respect. In Galaxy Quest, some of the obsessive fans wind up helping save the day and the message is that everyone has value.  It is a very positive message to take from the toxicity of the Internet these days.

One of the most poignant moments was when the cast was discussing the lasting effects of having the late, great Alan Rickman in the cast.  Playing the hoity-toity actor who was tired of his role as Dr. Lazarus, Rickman displayed his dry British wit and it was so apparent that his fellow actors loved him.  This was one of the most emotional sections of the doc and might be the best sequence in the film.  Parisot delivered perhaps the best line of the documentary in recalling a story with Alan Rickman and his feelings towards co-star Tim Allen.

Yes, the documentary may not be the hardest hitting doc you will ever see, but I was entertained by it through the full run time.

“Never give up.  Never surrender.”

3.85 stars