The Circle

“Didja guys ever seen Antitrust? It starred Ryan Phillippe with Tom Robbins as an evil Bill Gates type. It was basically The Net crossed with The Skulls, where Ryan is the young hot shot recruited at a Microsoft-like company that’s taking over the world, and of course they have nefarious ambitions. The Circle is exactly the same movie, only the technology has been updated to a Facebook-esque social media company.

I mean, really, it’s the exact same movie. I predicted several plot points because they lined up with those in Antitrust. So if you’re in it for the story, we’ve seen it all before.

What make The Circle interesting, is that it brings up a lot of questions about privacy issues. How much sharing is too much? Of course, the movie sorta assumes that the world wants to know what you’re doing at all times. I think for me, that was the beliveability line I couldn’t cross. If I broadcast my whole life at all times, who is gonna wanna watch? Maybe my mom for like a few minutes, but that’s it.

Now assuming I didn’t have that problem, what about the privacy and oversharing and oversaving discussion? The movie raised a lot of questions, but it didn’t do a whole lot with them. In fact, most of the movie felt like they threw a bunch of ideas together, and hoped they’d all mesh well and make sense in the end, but clearly they really didn’t know where they wanted to go with them.

Okay so then maybe play up the thriller aspect? Sorry, Antitrust did that better.

Now that I’m rethinking it all, I’m less impressed. I walked out of there feeling like it was fun and interesting, but now all I’m seeing are the flaws. I’m knocking this down another half point.

The Circle – \m/ \m/ \n”

Free Fire

“Brie Larson. Cillian Murphy. Armie Hammer. Sharlto Copley. Violence. Humor. Ineptitude. Where do I get tickets?

Maybe not so fast. Let’s back up. In this movie, the aforementioned cast and a few other friends attempt to sell each other guns in an old Boston warehouse in the 70’s. Something goes wrong, and everyone starts shooting everyone else. None of them are particularly bright, which exacerbates the situation.

On paper, it’s both intriguing and worrysome. Intriguing because it seemed to promise a good mix of humor and violence with a great cast. Worrysome because it can be tough to keep the audience’s attention on such a contained and simplistic story. Would it rely too much on action? Would the lack of plot be boring? What about the pacing?

It all ended up okay. Just okay. We could have used a little more humor. And yes the pace dragged a bit here and there. However, there were some moments with really cool camera work, and the playful tone worked. Copley was hilarious until he got annoying. Hammer was surprisingly funny. Larson is amazing in everything she does. Murphy wins MVP for me, or he would if he had more to do.

I think this is a good example of a Wait-For-Netflix movie. Ultimately I enjoyed it, but I don’t know that it’s really worth paying money for a short and simple film like this one. If you get distracted by your cats now and then, it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t demand the attention that sitting in a theater provides.

Free Fire – \m/ \m/ \m/”

Lilo and Stitch

“Talk about underappreciated movies. I saw this back in the day, and promptly forgot basically everything about it. Hell, I never even got around to buying it. I just thought of it as a rare miss for Disney and it got lost in the midst of all the other Disney films I’m crazy about. But a new BluRay release got me to finally add it to the movie wall. Why didn’t anyone make me do that before?

I’ve got three points to make here about the awesomeness of the movie.
1-Stitch is beyond adorable. I can’t decide if I like him better before or after he starts talking, but either way I could not get enough of him.
2-I love Hawaiian culture, and I especially love how proud the Hawaiian people are of that culture. The movie had so many nice moments that highlighted that, it made me want to go visit. I went once as a high school graduation present, but I may need to think about a return visit…
3-As with many Disney movies, the story here is important. But it may be one of the more important stories, and one that hasn’t been tackled too often by the house of mouse. Most people do remember the line “”Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind.”” Yes, very important sentiment. However, for me, the more poignant point was Stitch saying “”This is my family. I found it all on my own. It’s little, and broken, but still good. Yeah – still good.”” Their family is non-conventional, and it does have its issues, but that’s okay. I can only imagine how meaningful that line could be to the little Lilo’s of the world.”

The Fate of the Furious

“I love love love this franchise. For the past couple months, whenever anyone asks me what upcoming movies I was excited for, this was my answer. I’ve said it before, but it’s one of the few franchises that has gotten better over time and continues to find ways to top itself. The question now, was would the series survive the untimely death of one of its stars?

Short answer, yes. The Fate of the Furious delivered everything that I’ve come to love about F&F: heart pounding action sequences, characters I love, inspiring teamwork, and just non-stop adrenaline. However, I will say that 7 was a tough act to follow, it being my favorite both for the emotional element and for having some of the best stunts of the series. As a result, 8 didn’t feel quite as big, and I’d likely put it somewhere in the middle of the pack if I was ranking them all.

That doesn’t detract from the thrill of watching it though. I still very much enjoyed it, and as always, cannot wait for the next one. Oh, worth noting, new addition to the cast: Helen Mirren. She’d previously stated that being in one of these movies would be her dream role. Hopefully that role will expand going forward. She’s also stated that she is actually capable of driving fast and furious, so I’m really hoping there’ll be opportunity for that later. Also noteworthy, more hand to hand combat for Jason Statham. Really great to see him back in action again.

So yeah, happy to see this team is still going strong, as fast and furious as ever

The Fate of the Furious – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

Going in Style

“Morgan Freeman. Alan Arkin. Michael Caine. That should be ’nuff ced right there. Three of the greatest actors alive today working together in one movie. I’ll admit, I wasn’t initially sold on seeing this, and I’m sure if it was any other trio I wouldn’t have bothered. Then I came to my senses and realized that these legends are always worth seeing. And getting the chance to see them in roles where they’re visibly having a lot of fun would be such a treat. Watching them do the late night promotional circuit further drove that point home.

In what’s apparently a remake of a movie from the 70’s (news to me when reading IMDB trivia), our three heroes are agining retirees on a fixed income. That fixed income is suddenly cut even smaller when their pension funds are dissolved. So what are three grandpa types to do? Rob a bank of course!

Heist movies are always fun, and changing things up with the age factor and everything that goes along with it was a worthy twist. Smiles and chuckles and generally warm feels abounded throughout. Sure it was predictable and the jokes were all variations of the same thing, but that didn’t matter. We’re to respect our elders after all, and there are few who deserve as much respect as these three Hollywood treasures

Going in Style – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

Colossal

“We know that one of the things I most value in a movie is originality. Okay yes, there’s a lot of things I value, but given how many I see, they gotta stand out somehow. I’m gonna get bored if it’s the same thing over and over. I was really impressed with a few of those creative gems hidden away in last year’s releases: The Lobster, Swiss Army Man, Tickled. I think we’ve found our first such film for this year.

After her life in NYC falls apart, Anne Hathaway moves back to her small home time to regroup. Shortly after she arrives, the news is overrun with stories of a giant Godzilla-esque monster attacking Seoul, South Korea. To her horror, she finds that she has an unexpected connection to the monster, and his actions are linked to hers.

Did I mention this movie’s kinda weird? Just the right amount of it though. I’ve also recently stated how much I love a good genre mashup, and that’s exactly what we’ve got here. It’s a monster movie mashed up with a quirky indie. You’ve got the small scale character development, revolving around a small band of peeps and then you’ve got a massive mysterious monster destroying a city. I don’t think I could have ever fathomed those two concepts coming together like they did here.

Hathaway is fantastic in this movie. She’s always been a favorite of mine (even if I cooled to her in the post-LesMiz backlash and slump she faced). However, I’ve always held that she shines best when she plays damaged characters, Rachel Getting Married being the prime example. That’s what we got here, and she effortlessly carried the movie. Full spectrum of emotions, and a real weight behind everything she did. Seriously, her best work in a while.

Oh so the movie wasn’t just original in concept, but the turns the story took caught me by surprise as well. I don’t think there was a single beat that I predicted (at least not with complete accuracy), which is such a rarity. If you love monster movies, but are jaded with them, or if you just need something fresh and different, absolutely worth checking this out, assuming you can find it near you (pretty limited release at the moment)

Colossal – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

Gifted

“Chris Evans has had an interesting career during his downtime from playing Cap. You gotta respect the way he goes after smaller indie(ish) roles that help showcase different sides of him as an actor. Lord knows with Marvel money he doesn’t really need to chase a paycheck on a project he doesn’t love. In Gifted, he plays an uncle raising his genius niece after his sister’s suicide. The niece starts to get attention for her mathematical talents, which draws prying eyes to their living situation, inciting a custody battle with his mother over what environment would best suit the girl. Should she be in a harsh academic environment where she’d want for nothing, or live a simpler life where she can be a kid but may never reach her full potential. It’s quite a conundrum.

The movie was very sweet, if a little too sappy and a mite predictable, and I’m guessing ultimately forgettable. Still, very watchable. My crush on Evans has reached new bounds, seeing him as the sensitive father figure type. *Swoon* I think that’s how you know I’m growing up, that I find him just as hot here as when he’s playing Cap. Maybe even moreso? Moving on. We’ve also got Octavia Spencer doing her usual thing we love her for, so that’s another plus. However, we also lose points for gratutious references to MIT when they don’t even show any shots there. Granted, the school is notorious for not allowing filming on campus (Patriot’s Day being the sole exception that comes to mind), but it’s not that hard to at least get stock footage of the dome. Am I nitpicking too much now? My bad.

Gifted – \m/ \m/ \m/”

The Zookeeper’s Wife

“I was really on the fence about seeing this. It hit during a very busy week for me, and I wasn’t sure how much I really needed to see yet another WWII story. It’s funny though, as concerned as I was about seeing something that’s been done before, it’s also so inspiring to hear more stories surfaced of compassion and determination during such a bleak time in our history.

The Zookeeper’s Wife stars Jessica Chastain as a woman who runs the Warsaw zoo with her husband (Johan Heldenbergh, who I was really drawn to). During WWII, the zoo is occupied by German soldiers, but the family decides to hide in plain sight and use their land and resources to harbor Jews that are snuck out of the ghetto. The story was very beautiful and heartbreaking.

Part of that beauty and heartbreak hit me even harder as an animal lover. I’m torn between warning kindred spirits against seeing it and directing them towards it. There are some difficult scenes to watch, but others that are so sweet, seeing animals that are truly loved that show that same love in return.

I certainly walked out of there, feeling the better for having seen it. And it instilled a sense of hope in humanity in me that I hadn’t felt in a while. Lord knows that’s something we desperately need right now.

The Zookeeper’s Wife – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

Ghost in the Shell

“First off, I haven’t seen the original anime. Therefore, I can’t speak to how one compares to the other. Likewise, that also means the story was very new to me. I’m kind of the ideal audience for this sort of thing. I generally don’t care for anime, and while I may have eventually gotten around to watching the original, it’s unlikely to have happened any time soon. But give me a live action alternative and I’m all over it.

I know that then brings us to the whitewashing argument, and honestly, I don’t really wanna get into it. Yes, I do think it was a missed opportunity for diversity in casting, but we’re also overshadowing the fact that we’ve got a formidable female lead. That right there is a big deal.

I very much enjoyed this movie. Again, ideal audience. One thing I realized while watching is that something I love about scifi is the opportunity for creativity, especially when it comes to the visuals. On that front, the movie looked absolutely gorgeous. There were some really cool and creative effects that made it worthwhile for me.

And I was very much interested in the story. Again, it was new to me. I am just intrigued enough to put the anime back on my radar, but I’m still skeptical that I’d enjoy it as much as the live action. This is just more my cup of genetically enhanced techno-tea.

Whether or not Scarlett Johanssen should have been cast, I thought she was terrific. I also enjoyed seeing Michael Pitt, who hasn’t been too visible these days.

Yeah, so for sure worth it for me at least. I get that not everybody is on board, and that is okay.

Ghost in the Shell – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

Power Rangers

“Wait, what? There’s a major trend of the 90’s that I’m not into? ‘Tis true, folks. I never jumped on the Power Rangers bandwagon. I think a big part was that I just assumed the parents wouldn’t allow it. Martial arts was one of the more predictable No’s. It wasn’t the violence, but the spiritual roots, or something. IDK. But yeah, even though they were everywhere, I just never really bothered. So I really don’t know why I decided to bother with the new movie. Curosity more than anything else. And my shiny new MoviePass account meant I had nothing to lose except a couple hours.

My short response to the movie is “”eh””. I think for a lot of it, you either need to have been into Power Rangers when you were under the age of 12 or you need to currently be under the age of 12. When I of all people have a hard time getting into the cheese of it all, then no one outside the designated fanbase stands any remote chance.

The one thing that I did fully appreciate was the diversity and complexity of our rangers. They weren’t just a group of perfect yet bland kids. You had kids of different races and kids with different issues. I particularly can’t get over how awesome it is that there was a power ranger on the spectrum. Just think about that. A power ranger on the spectrum. How many kids on the spectrum ever see themselves represented on screen? And now one of them is a freaking power ranger! Not only that, he was totally my favorite out of the five. Nerd kids for the win!

And speaking of diveristy, female villain! That’s not something you see often, especially not in this genre. It wasn’t until I saw an article making a big deal about Cate Blanchett’s role in the upcoming Thor that I realized that it is true that no MCU baddie has been a woman thus far. Therefore seeing Elizabeth Banks kicking ass and chewing scenery as the big bad is a big step, and one that makes me wish I enjoyed the movie more so that I could fully celebrate and appreciate it.

Power Rangers – \m/ \m/ \n”