Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

With so much hype, there is almost no way this could be an excellent film. Even going in with no expectations, the expectations based on the franchise are inherent. The story picks up a couple decades after the fall of the empire. The rebellion became the republic, and it has now become the resistance, fighting against the surging First Order. This film has the in-enviable task of holding true to the gestalt of a beloved franchise while introducing new characters and conflicts. It did the first two well, but the third fell well short. So short, in fact, that I really felt like I was watching a modern remake of A New Hope. Desert planet, junkers finding a missing robot, crazy bar with a bunch of crazy creatures, giant planet shaped planet killer, dark side master who looks like Voldemort... same conflict, same tension. Overall, while I enjoyed the nostalgia and the visuals, it really did feel like the middle book of a good series. Was this the "rebound", the necessary middle quality bridge between the old franchise and truly new adventures? We can't know until the next iteration is released and we can say if it is really novel and exciting. Until then...
3 stars (out of 5)

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Set in Hawaii, a military intelligence operative and his new sidekick work (nominally) together to prevent the militarization of space while navigating their own love interests and coming to terms with their pasts. Maybe the best and worst part of the film was that all the talk about satellites allowed me to think about whether the talk about satellites was scientifically correct or not. Probably about 0% good on that count. The romance/drama portion was pretty weak.

2 stars (out of 5)


Max is a military dog. When his handler is KIA, max is sent home with PTSD. Turns out that he gets to be adopted by his former handlers younger brother, which helps with the interpersonal family dynamic going on in that family, and helps to solve an international drug/guns smuggling ring. Way to go Max. Largely a disney after school special quality film, but how could you not like Max.

2 stars (out of 5)

The Veteran

stars (out of 5)

American Ultra

Regular teen boy Jesse Eisenberg (and by regular I mean awkward) and his friend who is a girl (Kirsten Stewart) get along in their small town. Until they don't. Turns out Eisenberg is a secret weapon and sleeper super soldier and Stewart is his government minder. Of course things get out of control and there are some explosions and fighting amidst general teen confusion and angst. Largely disappointing.

2 stars (out of 5)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Master Plan

stars (out of 5)


An interesting crime thriller where we start with a woman in a diner with no memory. As she progresses in time, we are jumped back and forth from the present timeline to a flashback timeline, with the goal being to find out why she has not memory in a diner, and who killer her boyfriend. Turns out that she is pretty violent, and not everything is as it seems on first glance, or second. Interesting, not astounding.

3 stars (out of 5)

The Throwaways

An attempt at a convict helps the police for a chance to get out. But of course, the convict is expendable, and needs to help the police enough to get out of trouble, but also needs to avoid more trouble with the bad guys. Completely un-memorable. Not really action, not really comedy, not really crime thriller.
1 star (out of 5)

Ricki and the Flash

Meryl Streep not enough to carry this family discovery. A couple good scenes, but not worth the time.
2 stars (out of 5)

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

I liked this coming of age story about a couple of high school misfits (Greg and Earl) who are friends, and learning how to be friends. They are forced into the life of Rachel, a fellow students diagnosed with terminal cancer. They cope with life and death the best they can, while also coping with high school and fitting in and self discovery. I would say this is a much better exploration of the emotion of illness than The Fault in our Stars was, mostly because of the way hope and futility were woven together. And it was simply a quirky set of relationships and activities that drove the plot along. Enjoyable.
4 stars (out of 5)

The Age of Adeline

Adeline is struck by lightning, and doesn't age. She has no friends (doesn't allow herself to have any) but eventually realizes that a life, no matter how long, is not a good life without relationship. Mildly pleasant passing of the time.
3 stars (out of 5)