Movie Review: Lady and the Tramp (2019)

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Summary: Two dogs fall in love lol.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the original, I’ll watch it again at some point, so this is not a comparison.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. So, this movie has the voice actors for the animals and of course the humans as well.
  • Tessa Thompson as Lady. She is an American Cocker Spaniel who is used to be the light of her human’s lives. She has it good and when they get pregnant, she’s told that the baby will replace her. I think because of Tessa Thompson’s great voice and sassy energy and I liked what she did with Lady. She’s naive still but she’s very much excited to try things, or she at least stands her ground. When she first meets Tramp, she’s like “what are you doing here? I’m going to bark” and he’s like “No please don’t” and she’s like “Mmm yeah I’m going to bark.” I liked that about her. She grows throughout the movie of learning how to live for adventure, and yes with her being a dog, certain human things she doesn’t understand so as she learns, she learns how to make it work for her and her family.
  • Justin Theroux as Tramp. He has a great voice and I liked him a lot. His character is that rugged “bad boy” type lol which is funny to say for a dog, but they have personality too. He’s a man of the streets and is street smart and he comes across Lady after he escapes the Dog Catcher in her doghouse. Their first meeting isn’t the best, but they meet again when she runs from the pet shop and they have their adventure that blossoms into romance. Tramp doesn’t have a name throughout the movie, he’s called many things and it shows in that he has no idea what he really wants or who he might really be. I think Justin Theroux had the right kind of charm and ruggedness for this character while also being endearing
Supporting Characters. There are a lot of supporting characters in this movie and I’m not going to go through each of them, but I wanted to at least highlight them for their work on the film. Sam Elliott as Trusty was inspired as he’s a bloodhound and he just exude that “old timey” guy who thinks he’s still in his prime and likes to tell stories of the good old days. Ashley Jensen as Jock (Scottish Terrier) was cute and erratic and it worked. Janelle Monáe as Peg was amazing as she has that sultry voice. Benedict Wong as Bull had nice comedic timing and worked well with Janelle Monáe. Thomas Mann and Kiersey Clemons portrayed Jim Dear and Darling Dear and I saw people complained about the interracial marriage, but I thought they were cute, I believed in their romance and relationship.
Cute CGI Animation. At some points, I wasn’t sure how much was trained animals or CGI animals, but I thought it looked good with the animals talking and their mouths moving to reflect their conversation. They did do a little something something to their eyes.
Really Sweet. I thought the moments between Lady and Tramp were really sweet. I mean sure, the dogs can’t emote quite as well as their animated counterparts, but I think it was handled well enough, better than The Lion King. I don’t think it was as “realistic” as those were… I don’t know lol. I thought they had “chemistry” as dogs can. Not to mention, Lady interacting with Jim and Darling was super adorable and it made me want a dog (as always). I liked the moments with Lady and Tramp quite a bit and I was into their dialogue and Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux worked off each other really well. The Bella Notte scene was cute. When they save Tramp at the end and he’s invited into the family, I was like AWWWWW! This movie is really sweet and cute. I mean really.
Cons:
The Dog Catcher Stuff. I don’t even really remember it being a thing in the animated film, I know it was because I remember the pound and stuff but every time, he came on screen I was like, dude get a life. He’s a stray god. He’s treating Tramp like he’s a human being who just goes around stealing stuff from people’s homes. Tramp sleeps in the train yard, okay and then he just trots around the street. He’s not that much of a menace. It was just overkill and towards the end when he came to the Jim Dear and Darling’s house, I was like “bruh…”. I hated it.
Minor Pacing Issues. I do think the movie has an issue with keeping the momentum at times, but I think a lot of this has to do with the Dog Catcher being thrown into scenes. He shows up at the Dear’s house a couple of times, we cut to him trying to find Tramp so many times and I was like ughhhh, stop lol. I mean yes, he causes conflict, but it was annoying so because of that, it causes the movie to slow down.
Overall, I thought it was a very charming and I liked it a lot. I thought the casting was handled really well and the actors really captured their characters. Of course, the dogs were adorable and the training for them to hit their marks without CGI was handled really well. I thought the human characters were interesting and the acting was good. I liked the few that were incorporated, I appreciated the new “Siamese Cats” song because while I get it, it’s a classic, some might find it offensive and Disney deserves credit for that. Besides, I thought the new song was fun. The story is still really cute, and I was into it. My only big problem was I did not like anything dealing with the Dog Catcher. It was too long, the actor was good, but his character was ridiculous and annoying. I can imagine people complaining about “the magic” missing from the movie and I do agree there were times where, the movie reached a slow point after keeping me invested but I think that’s a minor pacing issue. A lot of that was broken because of all the Dog Catcher scenes, personally. But in the end, I thought the movie was cute, with major rewatchability and it’s truly a harmless, sweet adventure.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. 
Have you seen Lady and the Tramp (2019) yet? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!

Movie Review: Luce (2019)

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Summary: A married couple is forced to reckon with their idealized image of their son, adopted from war-torn Eritrea, after an alarming discovery by a devoted high school teacher threatens his status as an all-star student.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. We have a few people we get to meet throughout the film, some who are around more than others but I’m only going to talk about those who this movie is really focused on.
  • Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Luce Edgar. He is our lead character, he was adopted by Watts and Roth after being rescued from a foreign country. He is the shining star of his high school, he plays sports, he gives the speeches, the other students look up to him… all around perfect kid. However, we see around this perfect persona as suspicious things happen that he seems to be involved with, but it seems like he’s not. Luce’s character has a lot of things he goes through and you’re never sure if what he’s saying or doing is true. It’s up for your interpretation. But this is the second time I’ve seen this young actor and I’m really intrigued by him, I thought he was fantastic, and I’m very much interested in his future.
  • Octavia Spencer as Harriet Wilson. I think she is always good no matter what she does, but she is the History teacher and it seems that she puts students into a box that suits her narrative. But she also seems to be someone who has her students interests at heart. She is very ambiguous just like Luce is, so it really depends on how you feel and what you think. I found myself on her side a lot of the movie but at the same time you doubt her too. But Octavia Spencer is amazing and when she has the scene with Luce, his parents and the principal she does so well! OMG! It’s so amazing. Not to mention the scene with Luce in her house. She’s fantastic.
  • Naomi Watts as Amy Edgar. I mean, she’s Luce’s mother so she’s automatically on Luce’s side even though there are plenty of times where she doubts him, but she goes through this movie going back and forth between being loyal to her child and being a good person lol. She really goes back and forth, and you can’t help but wonder just what you would do in her place. Naomi Watts is very sympathetic though and I understand her struggle but of course being on the outside, I was very frustrated with her lol.
  • Tim Roth as Peter Edgar. So, he’s not as prominent as Watts’ character but he’s just as important. Being that he’s the father, there is a slightly difference approach he has to Luce compared to Amy. He’s a bit more straight forward and less worried to make Luce feel any kind of way. He even flats out just as Luce questions whenever there’s a question he has. I held out for him to be the voice of reason throughout the movie but it’s up to the viewer to decide where he might stand in his last scene. Tim Roth is great, but I can’t say I’m aware of his acting talent from other movies outside of The Incredible Hulk lol, but I liked him a lot and I was expecting him to be the opposite of the mother by being less “sympathetic” to Luce’s nonsense.
Intense Scenes. Ya’ll this movie is intense, the tension in the room between the characters and the dialogue creates such intense moments that I rewound a few scenes just to hear the dialogue again or to see the acting again. There are two that really stood out to me. The scene in the school with Luce, his parents, the principal and Ms. Wilson where she’s basically trying to get everyone to understand what Luce has said and done to her, while he’s feigning innocence is such a great scene. Everyone did such a great job and according to the director commentary that was the first scene they filmed. Excellent. Later, there is a scene with Luce and Ms. Wilson in her house and that was THE BEST SCENE in the movie. I rewound that part because I just could not lol. It was so good. There is also a scene with Ms. Wilson and her sister Rose in the school, my eyes were wide the entire time. There are a few more of these in the film, very hard hitting with great dialogue and fantastic acting.
Ambiguous Narrative. Sometimes it’s super annoying when movies aren’t clear in anything that’s going on, but I think this movie does it so well that I was so into it. You’re not sure what to really believe and I think even if you do decide whose side you want to be on, if you watch it again, you might find yourself thinking about the other person’s ideals even more. I didn’t watch it twice, but I went back and forth a lot. So, while I agree with Ms. Wilson for the most part, I also found myself understanding the hill Luce was climbing about her.
Interesting Story. So, this feeds right into the one above it, but the story is straight forward. It’s basically Luce vs. Ms. Wilson but there are things that happen that are questionable on both characters’ parts. Is Luce hiding terrible information and tormenting this teacher? Is this teacher trying to use her power to tear some students down while lifting others up? Even though she says something about that, it doesn’t seem like her intention is to ruin anyone’s life… I don’t know it’s just so interesting and I think left to the interpretation of the viewer, at least to understand what her actual intentions are. Plus, you have Amy and Peter as Luce’s parents who want the best for him, they think he’s perfect and they go back and forth on believing their son and by the end, their choices are understandable but a little shocking.
Cons:
Frustrating/ Ending. For the movie to build up how it did, with all the details we were given and then for it to just end. I get the point as it mirrors the opening but it’s different this time, the meaning behind it is different, that point in his life is different and the emotion is different, but you now must take the point and what might have happened for yourself. It’s a little annoying because I was going back and forth throughout the film and things are confirmed for Ms. Wilson, but Luce’s parents are just… ugh I don’t know. I’m not even sure if that makes sense lol.
Ambiguous Narrative. Now, I’m praising this aspect, but I can also imagine it being super frustrating for others because you’re not quite clear on who to believe or what’s really going on. It’s all very stylized and it may feel like the narrative is lost in the music and the shots and what not, which at times I did feel that, being that it’s based on a play, that might be part of the problem so I can imagine it being a tad frustrating.
Overall, I think this movie damn near perfect for me. I mean, the acting is phenomenal from everyone, the characters are well written with smart and interesting dialogue. They have great moments where you wonder their intentions or if they’re being honest and truthful. The movie tackles some hard-hitting topics and I think it handles those topics in a way that feels so real and raw and I understand the characters points of views from that. I didn’t give this its own point but the music in this film is good. The director talked about it on the commentary and how they incorporated it into the film. There are a lot of intense scenes where the actors really kick that dialogue in the teeth and delivers great stuff! Just wow! The narrative is ambiguous and usually that bothers me, but it didn’t here, but I can imagine it bothering someone else, not to mention the ending is frustrating. But wonderful movie, worth all the watches.
Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars. 
Have you seen Luce? If so, what did you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Movie Review: Gemini Man (2019)

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Summary: An over-the-hill hitman faces off against a younger clone of himself.
Minor spoilers ahead…
Pros:
The cast. Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Benedict Wong are all good for the most part. There are times where it seems like no one cares what’s going on or about the story, but I think because they’re all interesting and good actors, the lame acting is overlooked. Will Smith is always fun to watch, he’s funny when he needs to be, and since he plays two characters, he gets to be a little brash, impulsive as Junior and he gets some emotional moments. As Henry, he’s “over the hill” but still very competent at his job, he’s pretty cool, as Will Smith’s characters generally are, and he gets some humor in there too. I’ve always liked Mary Elizabeth Winstead, she’s fine in her role, I think she might have been a little miscast but she’s fine. Benedict Wong serves his role well, he’s the “wingman” type and he’s funny when we need him to be.
Pretty Good Action. This pertains to the quick fight scene in the boathouse with Mary Elizabeth Winstead and some thug. It was brutal, she got her butt kicked but she also kicked butt too. I wish the action in the rest of the movie was more like that. The action sequence at the end was pretty good too, with Will and Mary having to face down a ton of shooters. They both were badass in that sequence. Not to mention, the fight between Will, young Will and the ninja lol. Those two moments were the only times I felt any stakes.
So Much Potential. This movie has so much potential it physically hurts me. I wasn’t holding out for a good movie when I saw the trailer, but I thought it could be interesting. I investigated it, and this movie has a long history of trying to be made. It was supposed to come out in 1997 with an original script back then with a ton of well-known actors attached to the role: Harrison Ford, Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, Michael Douglas, Chris O’Donnell, Mel Gibson, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Costner, Pierce Brosnan, Bruce Willis, John Travolta, Jon Voight, Denzel Washington, Johnny Depp, Nicolas Cage, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood, Gerard Butler, Nick Nolte, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Sean Connery. I wonder what exactly happened and if all these actors were attached or in talks or something. But the idea of this man being the best at his job to the point where he’s unknowingly cloned so his skills never die is cool, but I think if this movie would have explored the interactions with Henry and Junior more, or if they went a different route with the story.
Cons:
Really Bad CGI. Every time after young Will’s first appearance was too much. It was very uncanny valley and it wasn’t good. It’s clear it was motion capture CGI and it wasn’t good CGI. I could not suspend my belief that Will Smith had a 23-year-old clone because it was so bad. Particularly when he talked. It was the mouth area a lot of the time and even with his eyes, it was very robotic. I would have believed it more if it was a cyborg copy instead of an organic clone. There is a scene at the end, when Will Smith, MEW and young Will is walking together and it’s clear, there are two real people and then a photoshopped CGI young Will Smith. It was bad. Really bad. The entire movie, whenever young Will came on screen, I could not take it. When he yelled at Clive Owen, his mouth… you have to see it to believe it. They should have just cast Jaden Smith as Junior or something and have it be like his “son” or something lol.
Also, the chase scene at the beginning with the motorcycles also had bad CGI. There is a shot where Will Smith is riding the motorcycle, and the camera is directly in front of him and its clearly green screen lol. I also don’t know if it was just me or not, but some characters also looked like they put some CGI on them or did some photoshop in trying to smooth out their faces. Mary Elizabeth Winstead looked a little weird sometimes and Clive Owen, though it might just be him not aging well, but he looked like playdough lol.
Lackluster action. In our first chase scene with old Will and young Will, the only thing I could think while watching was that they needed to take lessons from Tom Cruise because the choreography for the fighting wasn’t that great. First, there were times where I thought Will Smith looked funny with that big gun he carried during that scene. I think I laughed a few times. I know he can pull it off because he’s done it in other movies. Then when he was on that motorcycle, whenever it was a frontal shot of him riding, it was clearly CGI. It was just bad. Then later, old and young Will are fighting in a crypt and MEW is watching them, and it was an okay fight. It was hard to see at times, but she had plenty of chances to shoot young Will in the shoulder or in a spot that wouldn’t kill him. I don’t care if old Will is saying don’t shoot him, he’s kicking your butt. I’m shooting him. She waited till the last minute. Lame.
Weak Story/Cheesy Dialogue/Feels Dated. The writing wasn’t good. I think three people worked on the screenplay and I think it shows. I want to know what the original script was like back in 1997 because the story is weak, the dialogue is cheesy, and the movie feels old. It feels like it was made during that time of outrageous 90s action movies and it didn’t age well. There’s a part where Henry is telling Dani about stuff Clay did to him while he was being trained and even Will Smith couldn’t make me believe in that dialogue. Not to mention, the weird banter Henry and Dani had throughout the movie. It was so awkward! I don’t know if they were trying to be clever or funny, I don’t know but I wanted to physically cringe.
Emotional Stakes. I think because the story was weak it prevented us from really being invested in any of these characters. We’re supposed to care and like Henry, Dani and then sympathize with Junior and while it’s not impossible for any of this, it’s just not that interesting. Clearly, Henry ends up caring for Dani, but I never thought she was in any real danger. Then later, that first moment when Henry and Junior have this intense moment in the crypt, it’s supposed to be intense and I was like meh. Plus, the dialogue was so bad! Then later Junior and Clay have this “emotional” conversation but between the bad CGI, the bad dialogue and Clive Owen looking so disinterested, I felt nothing. I think this movie could have had a lot of emotional moments, especially with Henry/Junior and Junior/Clay but it didn’t work for me.
Overall, I really didn’t like this movie. I came to terms with it as I continued writing this review. I don’t think it’s good. Sure, the acting is okay for the most part and there are some minor positives in the action and the potential but the bad outweighs the good so much that I can’t even. The CGI is overall bad, and I’ve seen plenty of actors de-aged in movies, but this was bad. ALADDIN DID A BETTER CGI WILL SMITH. The action was lackluster, the movie feels dated, the dialogue was cheesy, and the story was so weak that when it was over, I completely forgot what I just watched. All I could think about was the bad CGI Will Smith face. The emotional stakes did not land and as a side note, I thought there were a ton of weird “technical” issues like some odd transitional choices, like that scene where Dani and Will are talking, then they both look to the side, music starts to play, and we get a transition to them on an airplane. It was so weird! I’ve seen that kind of transition work before, but it did not work here! Plus, all the random shots of the actors being close to the camera while they’re talking to another person… this movie is ugly. There you go, it’s ugly lol. Gah! That’s all, I’m done lol. If you like Will Smith and you want to see all his movies, then sure, check it out but at least wait till it’s streaming or something. Oh, this movie has a higher frame rate… that’s probably why I didn’t like how it looked lol. Look it up. lol.
Rating: 1.9 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Gemini Man? If so, what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!

Movie Review: Zombieland 2 Double Tap (2019)

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Summary: Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock move to the American heartland as they face off against evolved zombies, fellow survivors, and the growing pains of the snarky makeshift family.
There is a mid-credits scene and an end credits scene.
Pros:
Cast and Characters.
  • Woody Harrelson as Tallahassee. He is basically the dad in the group lol, he does his own thing. He loves cars, guns, killing zombies and in this movie ELVIS. His relationship with Columbus is the same, they’re a bit antagonistic, mostly Tall to Columbus they trust each other. They are aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses and work well together. He gets a lot of chances in this movie to be funny, to show how awesome he is, and Woody Harrelson is great! He’s so likable even when he’s being rude.
  • Jesse Eisenberg as Columbus. Of course, you can say that Eisenberg always plays himself and maybe he does but it works for him and I like it. It was great seeing him in a movie where he’s just having fun. Columbus is a bit neurotic, but it works for him. He’s stayed alive all this time! In this, they’re all living in the white house and he and Wichita are still together. He has ideas and plans for the future and is a little upset and sarcastic when things don’t go his way, but he has every right to be how he is lol. I totally get him. I love Columbus because he’s just awkward, sweet and weird but just like everyone else, very capable.
  • Abigail Breslin as Little Rock. Wichita’s rebellious younger sister and she’s the reason why the movie happens pretty much. Her and Wichita run off and then she runs off from her sister and is just stupid lol. She’s a young adult and wants everyone to know she’s not a little kid anymore and wants to find people her own age, she feels trapped in the “kid” role and she doesn’t want that. She also is sick of the Zombieland life. Whenever we see her, she’s with Berkeley and she’s enamored because he’s cute and her age and finally! Other people who aren’t zombies! She was a little annoying and kind of stupid, but she pulls through at the end. I think her relationship with Tallahassee is cute and I totally get her reasonings but come on man, you’re in a Zombieland. Can’t be stupid.
  • Emma Stone as Wichita. Emma Stone is always a win. Wichita is the same as she was in the first one, a bit hardened and sarcastic and she still has an issue with commitment or feeling trapped in a role. She knows how to handle herself but is very protective of her younger sister as well. Her and Columbus have a cute relationship and it’s funny because he’s so weird and she’s so cool. They also have great chemistry. I like her interactions with Madison because they are so different, but I think it’s clear Emma Watson just has fun in this role, she gets to be sassy, as per usual, but she’s more of a rude sassy than her quirky sassy lol.
  • Rosario Dawson as Nevada. She joins the movie a little later, but she runs the Hound Dog Elvis motel and she’s awesome. Rosario is always awesome. She is very similar to Tallahassee in her personality but she’s much cooler than him. She’s badass and comes through in the clutch later in the film.
  • Zoey Deutch as Madison. We meet Madison at a mall and Columbus almost shoots her because she just appeared out of nowhere. But she’s a dumb blonde and that’s her joke throughout the movie and I’m perfectly fine with that. It’s hilarious to me. I’ve never seen Deutch play a role like this before and I quite enjoyed it. It worked for her, she’s funny.
Supporting Characters. We have some supporting characters we meet, some last throughout the movie and others are just cameos. Avan Jogia as Berkeley, Luke Wilson as Albuquerque and Thomas Middleditch as Flagstaff. Avan Jogia was basically a hippie type character. He was pretty annoying lol, but it worked for him. He still cute. Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch are basically the same, of Columbus and Tallahassee in how they look and act. It’s supposed to be a funny interaction and I think it was. It worked for me.
For Fans of the First One. I think it’s a given that if you loved the first one then you’ll probably love this one. This one manages to be a continuation of the cult classic Zombieland but also managing to remain fresh and feel like seeing the first one for the first time again. The characters have returned and are as we left them, just older with different people problems, not to mention, new people and zombie problems.
It’s funny. I laughed throughout the movie. Humor is subjective, as I always say whenever I mention the humor in a movie, but I laughed a lot. I also had a nice crowd in my theater so there was a lot of laughter. I think the line delivery really works for a lot of the sarcasm and these actors have a knack for being funny without trying to come off funny. Zoey Deutch’s Madison really was a scene-stealer whenever she was on screen and I really enjoyed her. It was my first time seeing her like that and she got a lot of laughs from me and the audience. Of course, Harrelson, Eisenberg and Stone work well together. Not to mention, the cameo from Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch was great too. Great funny scene. Also, Tallahassee’s entire Black Foot thing, like bruh what? lol
Awesome action sequences. Just like in the first, this one has great action scenes with the zombies. Of course, we get an opening narration with Columbus narrating and we get a nice introduction to our characters and the zombies at the White House. Great scene. Then later, the scene near the RV was awesome. Shows just how badass Wichita and Tallahassee are. The scene in the Hound Dog Hotel was great! And of course, the battle at the end had some high moments too.
High Stakes. I think this movie really showcases some high stakes in that Little Rock runs off with some Hippie and everyone is worried about her, not to mention, the zombies have evolved and are better hunters and harder to kill. Plus, people are turning around them left and right lol, I was stressed out watching this movie because I was worried about how many people were going to make it to the end. I think the movie does a good job in making those stakes feel important and make you think that they’re going to kill people you care about. The entire last act of the film was one big tense but awesome sequence.
Cons:
A Real Story? Meh. In ways, the first one is kind of like this, but it feels like a series of events more than a singular movie. I know that Zombieland was supposed to be a television series before the movie and after the movie but never seemed to make it there.  I think even here, it seems like it could have been a show with how much it feels like characters go from place to place, meet new people and things happen. I find this to be very noticeable and it breaks up the flow of the film a bit.
Ending Battle. I think overall, it was okay. The entire movie is leading up to this final battle where our main four must show they’re awesome and save a bunch of other people and while the first part of the battle was great, the monster truck stuff was great, it didn’t end with the same tension or awesomeness as the first part.
Overall, I loved the first one, so I had hopes that while this one won’t be as good, I’ll love it too and true words. It’s great! It’s almost just as good as the first one because it has the same energy and feeling as the first one did, we’re just more comfortable in this world since we’ve already been introduced to it. I think it allows for viewers to just dive right back in and you don’t feel like you’ve missed anything. All the characters are still great, the returning ones we know and love, are still hilarious and work so well as a family even with their issues. The actors are having fun and they’re all great. The new characters, no matter how small or large the roles, also are great. There isn’t anyone we meet that I dislike, who are important characters. What we learn about zombie evolution is super cool and the movie is funny and it’s a fun adventure with high stakes. However, there isn’t much of a story, I mean it’s there but it’s not a focal point. Also, the end battle was underwhelming. With everything else we got beforehand, the climax fizzles. But the movie fun and if you like the first one, I’d imagine you’d also like this one.
Rating: 3.7 out of 5 stars. Honestly, I would give this a higher score for pure entertainment value, but I think this is fair.
Have you seen Zombieland 2: Double Tap? What are your thoughts?
What is your favorite zombie movie?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Movie Review: Joker (2019)

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Summary: In Gotham City, mentally-troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: “The Joker”.
So y’all, I have had some weird movie theater experiences and I’m starting to wonder if it’s me… lol. My friend and I saw this movie and towards the end, when Arthur is talking to someone, he starts laughing. I heard laughing but it sounded like it was coming from somewhere else, not the screen. But I ignored it, thinking it was the speakers or something. Then, I hear it again and I realize it’s coming from the guy sitting in the row before us. There was only maybe 20 of us in the theater, an entire row towards the front was taken, there this one guy, me and my friend and then two girls behind us. So, I thought maybe there was a special needs person with someone, and their friend was trying to calm them down or something because they were laughing loudly. I realized this person was by themselves. I tentatively lean back but then I saw smoke start rising from that row. I lean forward again and notice this guy has something in his hands that’s burning, not sure but it might have been a blunt or a cigarette, but I don’t know. So, I looked at my friend and said, “We need to leave,” and I hopped up and went for the door. I was already a little nervous because you never know with movies like this, but everything was fine up until this point. She has a delayed reaction but followed me and we finished the last two minutes at the stairs. The guy was by himself though. When the credits started to roll, we left lol and the two girls from behind us had got up as well when we did lol. We all started laughing and they said they heard the weird laughter and then saw us get up, so they got up to leave too lol. I DON’T KNOW MAN! But super weird. I did inform a worker about the guy, don’t know what happened after but man.
Pros:
Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur. Honestly, he is really the shining light of this movie. He is so good and so disturbing that I do understand the “Oscar buzz” around his performance. His character is sad too. So, Arthur Fleck is a mentally ill, impoverished stand-up comedian, disregarded by society with a history of abuse. He works as a clown in a business that loans out clowns, so he can feel “part of society” and of course “bring smiles to people around him” but life just doesn’t want to work out for him. I get it my dude, I do. He must deal with teenage hooligans stealing his twirling signs, getting beat up by them, his unstable mother, teasing coworkers, a super extra boss and with his uncontrollable laughter, which makes people uncomfortable but it’s also clearly a pain for him. It’s just so much he must deal with that you really feel bad for him. Life is just crapping all over him. He begins to spiral into darkness and he unintentionally started a movement and it just happens without him for a while. Joaquin Phoenix is phenomenal. He does a physical transformation and the way he moves in the movie is very deliberate and interesting and weird a lot of times. I like his dance moves lol. I think he portrays each layer of Arthur very well. The fake happiness he tried to have, the moments of sadness or the moments when it seems like he’s with other people, but he’s just imagined it. This movie is such a character study so it’s so interesting to watch him just exist. It’s uncomfortable in a lot of ways but it’s so good.
  • I think if you go into this movie thinking you’re going to see a familiar Joker you’ve seen in other comic book movies or adaptations, I think you’re going to be disappointed and you’re mistaken. Don’t get me wrong, you can see the connection with mentions of Thomas Wayne (Bruce’s father) and of course it’s in Gotham but don’t go into this movie thinking you’re getting a true or definitive backstory.
Supporting Characters. Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz and Francis Conroy play a large part in Arthur’s life in different ways. They’re very much supporting characters so I did not want to go into each of them like I would with other films, but everyone does a great job in their role. They all play parts in Arthur’s downfall but in different ways. Some less than others.
A Character Study. This movie is very much a character study for Arthur Fleck. I don’t think it’s an “origin story” or any kind of grand film. It has a very small and contained feeling to it and it very much focuses on Arthur and what he goes through, the choices he makes and how it affects him and the people around him. I think it works and is interesting that way because I can’t imagine it working any other way, with this version of Joker.
Great Musical Score. The music is so well utilized in the film. I mean wow. Especially towards the end. It worked in indications of moments where he’s imagining things in his head, or when he’s about to do something crazy, or anything along those lines, it really worked. I was pretty caught up in the score quite a few times throughout the film.
Cons:
Rushed Plot Information. So, a big problem I had with the movie was the information dump we got in the last act of the movie. Arthur learns something from letters his mother wrote Thomas Wayne, they talk, he believes her, even though she clearly is unreliable with her own mental illnesses. He makes some questionable choices that continue to push him further down a path. Then, we find out more stuff about his mother that is just given to us in some quick flashbacks, some information read from files and it’s just a whole lot of unconfirmed and horrible stuff. Not to mention, it just feels like the movie gives it to you but does nothing with it. I didn’t like that we get a section of an information dump and then that’s it. It gets glossed over and I think that’s a problem. I feel like this stuff should have been introduced earlier on and been part of his story as well.
Political Aspect. I might be in the minority here among casual movie watchers but there was a lot of this movie that I just found super boring and cliché. The entire subplot that dealt with Thomas Wayne and the train incident and everything that was grouped with that, I found to be silly. Or at least heavy handed. I mean, I get it, and being that our main character turns out to be a villain, it’s not surprising that things go in his favor when it comes to political and world views, but it was happening and because he wasn’t involved or even interested in it, any time it was brought up, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes or wonder why the movie was even spending so much time trying to showcase it. It just felt like a paper-thin reason and I just couldn’t get with it.
A Better Ending. So, there is a part of the film where Arthur has access to a camera after he just did something horrible and said some crazy things on television. He grabs the camera and he start to speak, and the camera cuts out. I thought that was a great ending. I wish it ended right there because it leaves way more mystery and leaves the insanity there but nooo we had to get more political stuff. I don’t care about any of that. I understood the point, I knew what they were trying to do, I respect all of that. I just think, the movie would have benefited from being shorter and ending right when that camera cut out. Man, it would have been beautiful. Then the stuff with the news reporters, put it in the credits so we see the world has unraveled.
Overall, it’s hard to say where I stand with this one. I think Joaquin Phoenix was fantastic and the reason to see the movie. The supporting cast is good, and their characters have a lot of interesting relationships and connections to Arthur. The musical score is great and works alongside the movie well. If anything, this movie is a character study of a man who feels forgotten by society and decides to stop trying to be part of it. Now, I do think the movie has an issue with how it presents information, especially stuff that appears to be important but it’s unreliable and that didn’t work for me. I didn’t care for the political aspect, it felt unimportant and extra stuff I didn’t need. Then, as a personal preference, I wish the ending was at a different spot. It would have been perfect. I think the movie is okay. It’s worth the watch for Phoenix’s performance alone.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. 
Have you seen Joker yet? What are your thoughts on the film? Let me know in the comments below!
By the way, this is like the 25,000 time I have seen Bruce Wayne lose his parents.

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Movie Review: Shaft (2019)

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Summary: JJ Shaft, a cyber security expert with a degree from MIT, enlists his family’s help to uncover the truth behind his best friend’s untimely death.
Pros:
Samuel L. Jackson. He’s always good. I don’t know if I’ve seen his Shaft movie, I feel like I have, a long time ago, not sure but his character is cool. He’s a badass, as always, he’s flirty, especially whenever he’s interacting with Regina Hall’s Maya and I liked his rapport with Jessie T. Usher because he clearly knows who his character is and how he would react to his son being “raised by his momma” but then turning around and being proud of him when he shows “Shaft tendencies”. He’s a cool dude and boy that red jacket they all wear at the end, dope.
Chemistry between Shaft and JJ. The biggest thing for me in this movie is how these two worked together. When they first meet, it’s a little awkward because Shaft left when JJ was a baby and he doesn’t have a great ideal of the man. We see this for a while but as the movie goes, we begin to see them trust each other and really care about each other. Sure, there are some cliched moments of betrayal that happens but they worked so well together. The seasoned badass with the dorky rookie who needs to learn he too is a badass. Lol it was fun to watch, especially when JJ got to be a badass. That scene in the club was cool and the one in the restaurant for both of them was really good.
It’s pretty funny/A Good Time. I think it’s funny overall. There are problematic jokes and I can imagine people being upset/offended by it but there are some that sneak up on you and I laughed. I didn’t full out laugh but I chuckled in a lot of places. Most of the time, it’s the chemistry between Jackson and Usher and their interactions and then JJ’s reactions to situations being so different from his dad. When Roundtree joins in, there are some good humorous moments. I also think this movie is a good time. If you’re looking for a film where you can see black actors have fun, eff some stuff up and you liked the previous Shaft movies, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one.
Cons:
Acting sometimes. We see a lot of Jessie T. Usher and there are times where he’s good but there are other times, other times where I was like oooo boy, you clearly aren’t as good when he’s on screen with Jackson. I think particularly in the beginning. I think he’s very funny but some of his line delivery was too “try hard”. I have a love/hate relationship with Alexandria Shipp, I want to like her because there are times I do (Love, Simon) but she also comes off “try hard” and I can’t quite put my finger on her just yet. Also, minor issue, but why do they keep casting these darker skinned actresses to play the younger version of a much lighter skinned actress? It just made me pause in the beginning. ANYWAY, I just found some of our leads aren’t that strong and it’s noticeable. Oh also, those army dudes lol, man sit down. Also, I love Regina Hall and while I don’t think she was bad, her character was annoying. She was nagging way too much. I get it but sit-down ma’am.
Predictable. Predictable. Predictable and cliché/Meh Story. This can go along with the above it, but I don’t care about this story lol. I guess they needed some reason for JJ to seek out his dad and then for Shaft to seek out Shaft Sr. but I don’t think the story itself was that interesting to make a movie off of it. I wasn’t that invested in it; I was just invested in the relationship between Jackson and Usher. I mean, it’s a kid who’s estranged from his parent, in order to get them back together, the kid needs the parent for something that’s in their expertise and they end up having to figure out the mystery together. We’ve seen it and they didn’t add anything new, not to mention, it hits a lot of the same beats we’ve seen in movies like that. So, I was able to call almost everything that happened.
Dated? I wasn’t sure how to label this but there are times when the jokes, the references just don’t fit. I think when you have a character like Shaft who was big a while ago, with two different actors playing him, putting him into 2019 is a little jarring. He drives this old car, and his ideals on things are clearly out of place and the humor that comes along with it might be a little problematic. I mean, I laughed at some of it but other times, I was like “alright, move on, y’all not that clever” and I feel like if you watch this movie in 5 years, it’ll be like “dang this movie is dated” because it felt that way watching it now.
Overall, I think Shaft is a fun movie with some positives, mostly being in Jackson leading the charge and his interactions with Jessie T. Usher as his son. They worked well together and when Richard Roundtree joined in, all of them looked and worked really well together. They had great chemistry and a great rapport. It felt like they were a family. Oh! I also liked that as JJ became more “Shaft” he started to wear more turtleneck shirts or he would relax in his posture a little. I’m not sure if that was Jessie’s choice or the director but that was a nice little nod I thought. I also think it’s pretty funny and it’ll get some chuckles or even some laughs from you. While some of the humor is good, I think people will be find it problematic and I can imagine they would complain, I don’t think it’s meant in bad taste but who’s to say. The story is mediocre and very cliché and PREDICTABLE. It’s not hard to figure it out pretty early. It also might come off dated, even now when it’s set in this time. But that may be just me. Otherwise, it’s a fun movie and I’d probably watch it again.
Rating: 2.7 out of 5 stars. 
Have you seen Shaft? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading and be sure to like and follow this blog for more movie reviews!

Movie Review: Rocketman (2019)

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Summary: A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years.
Pros:
Cast and Characters.
  • Taron Egerton as Elton John. Taron is BRILLIANT. I don’t know a ton about Elton John. I’m a fan of some of his songs but I’ve never been like an “Elton John” fan but from what I am aware of, he does a great job. He doesn’t look like him that much he manages to portray a great interpretation of the legend. He was mesmerizing anytime he was on screen. Whenever he portrayed him on stage with the songs, just wow. The energy is captivating AND he does all his own singing which there are times where he does sound like Elton John but if you are a fan of Elton John then you’ll know it’s not him singing but Taron but he pays a nice homage of sounding like him while also doing his own interpretation of his songs. Gosh, he’s sooo good. The emotional points of Elton’s life, the sad points, the performances, all of it… he’s so good. I’m so proud of him and I’m such a fan and a supporter. I hope this opens a ton of doors for him and he better get an Oscar nomination.
  • Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin. I’ve always loved Jamie Bell; I think he’s a very good actor and he doesn’t get enough recognition. Bernie is the songwriter for a lot of Elton’s earlier songs, if not all of them. They are best friends and he’s always in Elton’s corner, even if they argue. Bernie is the low-key one compared to Elton’s flamboyant personality or “persona” and it works for him. He’s supportive but he also knows when to step back. He never gets mad, at least to the point where he corrupts himself or Elton. I liked him a lot. He was a strong force in the film and I think he should also get an Oscar nomination. He does his own singing as well.
  • Richard Madden as John Reid. Robb Stark lives! lol but Elton meets John at a party, they share a moment and become close. Throughout the early times in the film, we see them connect, share moments and Taron and Richard have really good chemistry. After a while, John becomes his manager and things start to turn a little sour. I haven’t seen everything he’s been in but it was interesting to see him become such a “jerk”. He’s really good at it though. He’s very intimidating and he’s great. He also sings in the movie, alongside Taron.
Supporting Characters. There are a lot of other people we meet in the film. Charlie Rowe, Tate Donovan, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gemma Jones and everyone serves their purpose and are great. I think the other person who really stands out here is Bryce Dallas Howard, I’m not sure about her accent but at playing Elton’s mother, she was beautiful detached lol. One of her best scenes is when Elton calls her over the phone to come clean. Also, the scene at the end when he’s faced with all the people in his life who really meant something to him. Everyone else is great too.
It’s a Musical. Being that it’s a biopic of Elton John’s life, a singer, you can expect music in the film but it’s definitely a musical. Yes, you have the songs that are performed on stage or while Elton is recording but there are also instances in the film where they just burst into song. The cast sings all the songs. Taron Egerton doesn’t “cover” Elton’s songs but he sings them with his own style and interoperation but it still sounds like the actual song. It’s just not him tending sound like Elton John. He does sometimes but I think if you are a huge fan of Elton John then you’ll be aware he’s not lip synching to recordings. I think they do a great job at making sure it sounds like the real songs but allowing Taron to do his thing. I even saw a behind the scenes about the recording and Elton John said he didn’t want them to copy him but to just let Taron sing. I think that was important and it worked for me.
Emotional. There’s a lot that Elton goes through in the film. I don’t know how true it all is but it’s a movie, that’s doesn’t quite matter. No one said it was a play by play of his life. But as a child, he already felt alienated from his dad who wouldn’t hug him, his mother was detached (while weirdly supportive), and as he got older, he had different problems. Dealing with his sexuality, the hardships from being in the music industry and then his issues with John Reid. A lot of it is really sad because he just buried it with drugs, sex and alcohol and you see how it affects him. I love all the group session scenes because he got to talk about it in real time.
Direction/Energy. There are a TON of great directing choices in this movie. First of all, with it being a musical, we get to see a lot of of special filming choices. Like at the beginning when Elton joins the AAA group, he starts talking about his life, he breaks out into song, and we go to his childhood home with his kid self and the transition is seamless! Then when we finally catch up to his teenage self during a song where everyone is outside dancing, another seamless transition. One of my favorite instances though, is after he tries to commit suicide in the pool, he falls down and sees himself as a child singing, they sing together and then this entire sequence is them trying to save him from his overdose but also preparing him for his Rocketman performance while he’s in the baseball outfit. It’s so good. There’s so many moments of this throughout the movie, that I was like “Wow! that’s amazing!”. Plus, it’s a very bright and colorful film. I’m glad they went in that direction, to make it almost look surreal and imaginative instead of gritty and dramatic. It still is that but they don’t for that on the viewer.
Cons:
Lack of Connection. While I love this movie, I think it’s hard to gauge whether or not you feel connected to these characters to really care about them other than the fact that the acting is great and that the scenes are beautiful. It’s hard to say if the characters are interesting other than the fact that they’re based on real people, or that you really come to care about them. Because of the musical pace, we race through a lot of development or moments that might have been great dramatically but because of the nature of the film, we don’t get to sit in those moments.
Overall, I think this movie is fantastic. Rocketman is a must-see movie for anyone who loves Elton John’s music, anyone who loves musicals and anyone who appreciates colorful direction. I think it would also be a must see for anyone in the LGBT community. It doesn’t make a joke out of Elton’s sexuality nor does it feel forced even though it’s part of who he is. The acting is fantastic out of everyone in this film, particularly Taron Egerton leading the helm. Jamie Bell and Richard Madden are also fantastic. All the acting is great in the film. The music is great with a lot of recognizable songs with Taron doing his thing. He can sing y’all. It’s an emotional film and hits a lot of highs and lows. Also, the direction and aesthetic of the movie is also a standout in itself. The choices for sequences are great! Gosh, this movie is so good. My only negative is that it might be hard to see the character development or even really connect to them because we’re kind of kept at arm’s length throughout the film. We’re like on the outside looking in and while you may relate, you may not be able to connect due to the nature of the film. But otherwise, it’s a great movie! Check it out!
Rating: 4.7 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Rocketman? What did you think of it? What is your favorite film about a singer?
Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading and be sure to like, comment and follow this blog for more movie reviews.