Monday, December 26, 2016


*Not a spoiler free review*

The Rebel Alliance makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, and Donnie Yen

Directed by: Gareth Edwards

Written by: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll, and Gary Whitta

  Being a big "Star Wars" fan, I wasn't sure what to expect from "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” Some people weren't sold on the idea of Disney doing a stand alone movie, but I say the more "Star Wars" the better. Of course there are some high standards to meet. If they’re making a movie just for the money, then fans will know and this will quickly turn into a bad idea.

 "Star Wars" has given fans so many great characters to love, but could they do it again with any of these characters? Well this story starts and ends with Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones). Was she the most lovable character ever... probably not. However, starting off with her from a young child, and seeing what happens to her parents definitely gets the audience on her side. Then there's Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), who's a rebel that continues to battle over doing the right thing. He probably didn't win over too many fans until the end.

 One character who probably won over many fans is the robot K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). While C-3PO uses fear and clumsiness to humor audiences, K-2SO is a whole lot braver, and extremely blunt. Think of him as the family member who speaks their mind and always embarrasses you. Whether audiences like or disliked these characters and others, at the end of the movie it really doesn't matter. Why... because in a bold move all of the characters they want audiences to like die. That was not something I expected, but give them credit for going that route. It does make sense, and truly makes this a stand alone movie. 

 As for the action, it's pretty awesome in the typical "Star Wars" way. The last 20-30 minutes or so ends in a huge battle scene. There's plenty of action and drama on the ground and in the air. Watching an AT-AT walking across the beach is something I never thought I would see, but it was terrific. Of course, the Rebels going head to head with Tie Fighters and Star Destroyers is something I can never get enough of. Again, in shocking fashion, the day is saved just before the Death Star blows the beach up, and all of the heroes the audience spent 2 plus hours watching. 

 While he didn't get much screen time, one of the best scenes of the movie belongs to Darth Vader. He boards a Rebel ship, and makes quick work of everyone in his way. It definitely reminds audiences that he belongs with the dark side. However, when he makes his appearance earlier in the movie, there just seems like there's something different about him. I'm not sure if it's the costume, or how the scene is shot, but there's something about him that just didn't seem right. 

 Besides that, the only other true complaint is that there's a lack of Jedi. Vader's scene is the only one with a lightsaber in it, and it's weird not seeing a good lightsaber fight or two. They kind of make up for it with Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), a true believer in the Force. Maybe he even has a little Jedi in him somewhere, but no lightsaber in sight. Although he does carry a stick, and has some great ninja moves for a blind man. He certainly won audiences over, and is probably one of the hardest characters to see go. 

Funny how some fans are simply happy that "Rogue One" answers that one question to why the Empire leaves such a weak spot in the Death Star. However, this movie proves more then just an answer to that question. Surprise appearances here and there of popular characters (yes chills seeing a young Princess Leia) is great, but they take some big risks here, and it pays off. Killing all of your major characters at one time is crazy for "Star Wars." Putting on a story with no Jedis seems insane, but actually it proves that there's more going on in the "Star Wars" universe then just lightsaber fights. While I look forward to the next episode, I would fully support another stand alone movie. With that, I give this “Star Wars” story 4.5 stars!


Tuesday, November 29, 2016


High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother.

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson, Blake Jenner, Kyra Sedgwick, and Woody Harrelson

Directed and written by: Kelly Fremon Craig

  For some it seems like high-school is so easy. The star quarterback gets all the girls’ attention, and boys’ eyes are always on the prom queen. For some it’s the complete opposite. They’re almost invisible with nothing to do but their schoolwork. In the end, as easy or hard high-school is, every teen faces their own struggles at some point, and that’s what “The Edge of Seventeen” reminds audiences.

 Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) is the main struggling teen in this story. Actually, her difficulties might have started at an earlier age, as the audience gets a funny scene of her staging a revolt about getting out the car. Not long after another funny moment or two, things get serious as she loses her father. As she gets older, the only person she feels is truly on her side is her best friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson). Like it happens to many best friends, a boy comes in-between them. In this case, that boy is Nadine’s brother, Darian (Blake Jenner).

 They do a good of making the audience really feel for what she’s going through. From the audience’s point of view, they can also see how she’s not doing her self any favors, including sending a boy she likes an embarrassing text. However, it’s not all bad for her whether she realizes it, or not. While she has her eyes on a boy way beyond her reach, Mr. Right, is sitting right next to her. There are several humorous moments between the two reminding some how awkward young love can be.

 Nadine also has some hilarious moments with her teacher, Mr. Bruner (Woody Harrelson). He kind of becomes her safety blanket, as she goes to him for advice, and sometimes just to get away from her classmates. What makes this student-teacher relationship different is how Mr. Bruner treats her in such a calm manner. He almost acts like he doesn’t care, but everyone knows he does. She feels free to speak her mind, and he says as little as possible.

 As previously hinted, while the story is about Nadine, the beauty of the story is fitting in how each of the teens featured have struggles of their own. In Nadine’s eyes her brother is the perfect one, but he struggles with having to be the man of the house after their father’s death. Krista doesn’t want to her hurt Nadine, but can’t help her new found feelings for Darian, and the new attention she gets. Even their mother proves that adults have struggles too!

This coming of age story is really a rollercoaster of emotions. They do an excellent job of getting the audience to feel for Nadine at first, and later for some of the other characters as well. There are several serious moments that probably hit home with many people. They manage to mix in the right amount of humor with Nadine’s interactions with Mr. Bruner, and her true love interest Erwin. The cast from top to bottom nails their roles. With that, I give “The Edge of Seventeen” 3 stars!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016


 A former neurosurgeon embarks on a journey of healing only to be drawn into the world of the mystic arts.

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, and Rachel McAdams

Directed by: Scott Derrickson

Written by: Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, and C. Robert Cargill

  Admittedly, the story of Dr. Strange isn’t as familiar to me as some of the other Marvel characters, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, these Marvel movies have been pretty good, so I had to give it a chance. “Doctor Strange” does have some strange moments, but there’s nothing strange about this ending up being another Marvel hit.

 Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Dr. Strange, doesn’t seem like the superhero type, but he actually did a pretty good job. Benedict nails the attitude of Dr. Strange both before and after he becomes the hero. Being a huge fan of the show “Hannibal,” it was a pleasure watching Mads Mikkelsen play the villain Kaecilius. It would have been nice to see a little more of how he became the villain than just hearing about it. 

 Speaking of character stories, it’s good seeing the struggle of Dr. Strange after his accident, and how he ends up meeting The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). However, his training goes on a little too long. It’s a good introduction into his soon to come abilities and the dimension world, but it goes on a little too long. Again, it would have been nice to see more of Kaecilius’ story fill some of that time.

Now to the star of the movie…the special effects. Dr. Strange goes head to head with Kaecilius in our every day world literally turned upside down. Rooms are spinning, they run on the side buildings, and use anything not bolted down against each other. It certainly will keep the audience glued to the screen. The best scene is when they are battling each other, and the destruction that just happened is going in reverse against them.

Like “Ant-Man,” “Doctor Strange” makes a nice new addition to the Marvel Universe. It starts with good casting all around. There’s a good mix of the serious background story, and some good humor. The fighting might not be as fast and furious as some of the other Marvel movies, but there’s nothing like this head spinning experience. With that said, I give it 3.5 stars!


*As usual stay to the end for after credit scenes!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


A secret government agency recruits a group of imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency, which inevitably leads to chaos.

Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, and Margot Robbie

Directed and written by: David Ayer

  There’s a lot going on in the “Suicide Squad,” particularly in the beginning. First they have to introduce the audience to the group of bad guys that will eventually make up this squad. The audience gets to see them locked up, and how they got there. Some characters like Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) get a decent introduction to their backstories. Batman (Ben Affleck) makes appearances in both of their intros, and with Harley comes a look at the Joker (Jared Leto). While it’s nice that they didn’t do extended looks for all the characters, some aren’t introduced sufficiently and are almost afterthoughts.

In the mist of the introductions, the plot for this movie is setting up. Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) makes her case to government officials that this group of villains can actually be usefully. She assigns a loyal soldier, Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) to be in charge of the keeping the squad in line. Part of her plan backfires, which creates an enemy that almost destroys them all. The problem here is that there’s an imbalance between the introductions, and the story set up. It’s like here are some bad guys, here’s a developing problem, now watch them magically fix it.

Speaking of magic, the true villain in this story is a witch named Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). She’s creepy looking, and very powerful especially after bringing in a close partner in crime. They create an army of weird looking creatures. Too bad they end up serving as nothing more than target practice for the squad. It’s really disappointing that they don’t do more than just prolong the squad from getting to Enchantress.

To no surprise the best action does come from this showdown with Enchantress. Through most of the movie, it’s clear that Deadshot, and Harley dominant this group. However, the Enchantress’ partner is almost unstoppable until one unexpected member of the squad steps up in a big way. The entire time the question has been whether or not the rest of the squad can put their differences aside, and make the most of their individual talents to take the witch down?

Overall, there are too many moving parts in the “Suicide Squad.” They have to get through intros while building the story at the same time. They have to create a new villain while tying in Batman, and the Joker. It almost seems like they should have gone the Avengers route, and introduced some of these characters before this movie, especially with all the Harley and Joker moments. It really needed to be a little more organized, some better action besides tearing up creatures, and even a good catch line or two would have been nice. Can’t complain about the music though so I give it 2 stars!


**Yes there is an extra scene midway through the credits