7 days in entebbe

- the characters that Daniel Bruhl and Rosamund Pike play are arguably the most interesting thing about this movie
- the cultural and geo politics are addressed well enough I suppose
- "inspired by true events" gives it a little more weight to the drama

- 2012's "Argo" this is not
- kinda boring and uninteresting in many aspects
- besides the characters played by Bruhl, Pike, and probably Marsan, the rest of the cast were just not that interesting
- not for impatient movie goers
- I wasn't in the mood for the interpretive artistic dance sequences

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tomb raider

When you think about video game movies, you normally associate them with horrible experiences. In very few cases, you get the mediocre ones, or the somewhat welcome "so bad it's good" category. For this Tomb Raider video game based movie; which is a reboot of the previous two Angelina Jolie led installments, I have to honestly say that it wasn't bad. It wasn't great, or amazing, but the big compliment I can give this video game movie is that it wasn't bad. 

The other big compliment I can give here is that Alicia Vikander is a good Lara Croft. She essentially makes the movie, and is the primary reason to see it. Vikander has a good mix of looking fit enough to do the physical work, capable to hold her own in fights, and is still able to show that she isn't flawlessly unstoppable. "Less cartoony and more human" seems to be what they were going for, and it worked. I thought Walton Goggins as the antagonist wasn't bad either, but I would have to get into spoilers as to why I liked his villainous role. 

Directed by Roar Uthaug, this adaptation was smart enough to lean more towards the action adventure aspects of the character. Action set piece, after action set piece, after action set piece, after action set piece, seems to be the mantra for this movie. There were some exposition scenes, but they were usually immediately followed by another action set piece. Several of those action set pieces like a bike sequence, a chase sequence on boats, to a stealth sequence, and several others, were actually all rather entertaining to watch. 

What I wished they would have given us more of though, were the puzzles. Yes, raiding a tomb is involved in this film, but the puzzles that goes with all that simply weren't that compelling. That's what I would call the most disappointing part of this movie, because Indiana Jones proved that with films like this, you want to give a movie audience some memorable puzzles. 

So despite the initial feeling that "Tomb Raider" would be just another bad video game movie, I'm happy to say that I could recommend this to people. Not everybody mind you, but there are many who would be entertained by this. 

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- David Oyelowo continues to prove how good of an actor he is, and now he can showcase that he can do comedy too. 
- Seeing Charlize Theron and Joel Edgerton essentially hamming it up for the camera can be pretty fun. 
- Sharlto Copley adds an interesting addition to the overall story. 

- The multiple plot lines and huge cast of characters is admirable to tackle, but unfortunately this movie doesn't completely succeed. 
- All those different stories this film shows us are generally hit or miss, with Amanda Seyfried and Harry Treadaway plot being a miss. 
- It wasn't really that funny. 
- It wasn't really that interesting. 
- It was kinda boring. 

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the strangers prey at night

- Soundtrack is filled with many Jim Steinman written songs which is pretty awesome. 
- Pop songs played over scenes of terror is oddly fitting in a high tension operatic sense. 
- The Strangers themselves are pretty menacing and downright creepy. 
- Doesn't rely too much on jump-scares. 
- The direction of the pool scene is a huge highlight of the whole movie. 

- Characters are still doing way too many stupid things, and that's a critique on the protagonists and the antagonists. Gets hard to root for the victims to survive, or the villains to get their kills, when they don't seem to deserve those rewards. 
- Too many coincidences and conveniences to the point of absurdity. 
- While the soundtrack is great, the pop song choices over the horrific situations, can be a little too ironic. 
- All the good things the movie does, gets overshadowed by the poor things it manages to put on screen. 
- Expect a lot of face-palm moments and yelling at how idiotic the characters can get. 

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Two teenage girls come up with the idea of killing the step-Dad. At least that's the simplest one sentence way to describe the plot, but of course it's a bit more complicated than that. Consider this fact, the first scene of the movie involves one of those said teenage girls killing a horse. So despite what you might initially have thought about this movie just based on the trailers, there's more to things than meets the eye. With that said, by the end of the movie, depending on your reactions to it, you might end up feeling indifferent about the whole thing anyway. 

Writer-Director Corey Finley has given us something that could easily be accused of being just another manufactured, cynical, and pretentious story. The unique soundtrack alone will make you think that way. I could also just describe this movie to be quirky and weird, which can make this black comedy sound a bit more palatable to comprehend. If you want to ignore all the underlying themes that is. You can also just be entertained by the many conversations that Amanda and Lily have in this, which to me are the main highlights and reasons as to why it's worth checking this movie out. 

So yes, the premise and all the characters represent some form of social commentary that should encourage some thought provoking discussions. I would say that it's actually all pretty clever, as to how Finley pulled off this story. I would also say that I also found it to be manipulative at times, and relied too much on particular caveats to add variety to the story. Some of the decisions made for this movie felt a bit misguided to me, but I can't blame him for doing what he did. 

On a purely visual level, this movie is fantastic to look at. There's a lot of nice cinematography, despite the relatively limited locations that this movie has to offer. While this has a very small cast, they are all great in this. Olivia Cooke, Anya Taylor-Joy, Paul Sparks, and Anton Yelchin; in his final movie role before his passing, are all awesome in their roles. The characters of Amanda and Lily were likely designed to stand out among the many teenage female roles in film history, and I applaud Finley's attempt in doing so. How successful he was is up to you. 

I can understand why some people are saying that "Thoroughbreds" could be a new modern cult classic, but I beg to differ. It's clever and has it's quirky qualities, but I think the methodical pacing, the offbeat tone, and the whole "art-house" vibe, will be oft-putting enough for some movie goers. It's hard to say how people will remember this movie in the future, but for now, I'm not going to stop you from checking it out if the trailers got your curiosity going. 

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a wrinkle in time

If there's only one description that I can give this movie, it's that it's constantly in my face. Whether it be because of all the many flashy colors that are being shown on screen, or the picturesque CGI backdrops that's full of imagination, or maybe it's just the fact that there were a lot of close-up shots of people's faces. I'm talking A LOT of close-up shots, to the point where I just wanted to push my hand out and tell the characters on the screen to keep to their own personal boundaries. 

I don't know what's going on with the script or the direction, but somehow this movie felt like it was in a complete rush. It didn't really give me many moments to just breath and take it all in. The focus seemed to be on just constantly moving the plot along at a breakneck speed, that I didn't really get a proper feel to the world building. I can appreciate all the imaginative and outrageous mix of science and fantasy that makes up this movie, but that didn't change the fact that it made me feel a little detached from what I'm watching. 

The one element that kept me going however was Storm Reid as Meg Murry. It helped that her character is the main focus of the story, because she is pretty much the driving force to see things through the end. The rest of the cast were either hit or miss for me. The Mrs, that consisted of Witherspoon, Kaling, and Winfrey, were all interesting in concept, if not totally in execution. They were just fine, I guess. Calvin, the friend of Meg that is played by Deric McCabe, was so embarrassingly underwritten, that he seemed completely unnecessary for this story. I also started to get annoyed by the fact everybody calls Meg's little annoyingly precocious brother "Charles Wallace," and not just Charles or just Wallace. Oh and the other adults weren't in it enough for me to care. 

Maybe I'm simply not the target audience for "A Wrinkle In Time," and I should point out that I never read the book that this movie is an adaptation for. Even though I can recognize the craft of putting all that complicated stuff on screen, I can't deny the fact that it just didn't click with me. The overall theme and message of the story is also undeniably profound and a good lesson to learn, but unfortunately it's likely a lot more effective for a pre-teen than a grown adult. 

For a movie that is capable of showing me scenes of inexplicable cleverness and creativity, it somehow still leaned heavily on being overtly on-the-nose and obvious with a lot of the plot and philosophical elements. It got pretentious at times, or much too precious the other times. However there were several moments I actually did like what I was seeing. I just wish it completely hit the landing overall. 

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red sparrow

If you were hoping that "Red Sparrow" was going to be the "Black Widow" movie that you haven't gotten yet from Marvel Studios, look further. This is not the glamorous action adventure thriller spy movie a la James Bond or Mission Impossible. This is closer to a methodical and slow burning spy drama like "Bridge Of Spies" or "A Most Wanted Man." Not only that, but the subject matter in this movie is absolutely not for everybody. 

There are heavy plot elements in this film that should be a bit unsettling. I'm not just referring to some of the more obvious elements here like torture or rape, but the premise that is set up with why Jennifer Lawrence's characters goes down the rabbit hole of working as a spy for Russia that she finds herself in. It's kinda dark and bleak and hopeless for her character many times over, but it's also easy to root for her to see things through. What she needs to do to see things through is what should grab your attention to keep watching. 

While not exactly a super exciting story to watch, and a plot progression that seems relatively obvious, the film does pay off at the end. The conclusion makes it easy to appreciate the movie more, after going through the dark journey that we had to experience. There were of course other things to like about the movie, like Jennifer Lawrence's performance, the little details that build up to the end, and a plot set piece involving Mary-Louise Parker. It's hardly a perfect spy drama though, as there were some story elements that I can call out as plot holes, but it didn't distract me too much. 

Although I think I would have preferred a more exciting spy thriller over "Red Sparrow," I did appreciate what the movie was trying to do thematic-wise and plot-wise. I don't think I'll find myself watching it again, but it was at least worth checking out. That is if you're the type that would like this kind of spy movie. 

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death wish

- Bruce Willis and the rest of the cast aren't bad in this
- It's a revenge flick with a story premise that easily generates interesting discussions
- essentially a serviceable movie that doesn't take things too far

- it's a serviceable movie that doesn't take things too far! 
- those expecting Horror Director Eli Roth to take the action and violence up several notches will be mostly disappointed that he didn't that here
- some people will get impatient that the plot doesn't move fast enough
- the general theme of the story can be a little on the nose
- comes off too much like it's pandering to the NRA
- the full length trailer is spoilerific and diminished the impact of several scenes
- as a remake and a re-adaptation of a book, this movie doesn't give enough justification for existing

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game night

Just by looking at the trailer, the first thought that might come to your head is that this is like "The Hangover," but instead of a drunken adventure in Las Vegas, this is about a group of friends who got together to play games when the situation becomes more than they can handle. Outrageously fun? It's totally crazy am I right? I could totally feel your eyes rolling back at how embarrassing this movie must be to exist. Here's the thing though. It's not bad at all. In fact, I would say that it actually is genuinely entertaining. 

With a good cast and some inspired funny set pieces, this seemingly idiotic overdone premise of a story, actually produced a bunch of very likable qualities to it. The chemistry between this group of friends, with standout moments from each of them, made this an extremely good experience watching this movie. From a fantastic bit where Rachel McAdams has to try and patch Jason Bateman's wound, a running joke between Lamorne Morris and Kylie Bunbury, to Jesse Plemons being all creepy, there's a lot to like here. 

As it goes with these kinds of movies though, there's also a feeling like it's very disposable and forgettable entertainment. While I would argue that there are moments that aren't forgettable, I wouldn't blame you for accusing this for being disposable. There are many parts of this movie that requires a lot of suspension of disbelief, and that brings the experience down a notch. There are many parts that feel overdone, like it's trying too hard to be just zany. The ongoing joke that Billy Magnussen's character is dumb as bricks can get a bit weary too. 

While "Game Night" isn't going to be accused of being an instant comedy movie classic, I have to give it props for not being an annoying and overly obnoxious, piece of tripe. In general, it made me laugh, it was undeniably fun several times over, and I came away thinking more highly of the movie than I thought I would. 

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I was absolutely riveted watching this science-fiction movie, and it's very gripping plot. Some people might find the pacing to be a bit slow, but I myself was extremely hooked. There's a general mystery that needs to be uncovered here, and it is the driving force to see this story through. There may be some complicated jargon and dense concepts all over the place that might turn you off, but the plot is actually relatively simple and easy to follow along with. 

Part of what made this film's premise so fascinating is how it expertly melds the sci-fi elements with the visuals. Speaking of which, while this isn't technically a horror film, there were some terrifying visuals to be seen. Some scenes made me queasy to watch, while some just simply made my skin crawl. Unnerving is one word to describe this movie, and if the story isn't enough, the visuals definitely helps with that. 

Natalie Portman is as good as expected. While there is some dramatic range for her to play with, she's oh so very serious here. The movie itself has the tone of tense seriousness, with hardly a spark of levity at all. That's another thing that some people might not like, but the subject matter presented here doesn't really welcome jokes and lightheartedness. After certain scenes, you're going to want to be able to laugh it off, but this movie doesn't want to give you that reprieve. 

"Annihilation" is a great addition to the science-fiction movie genre. The sheer ideas and creativity found here is laudable. It makes me want to read the book series now. If that was writer/director Alex Garland's intentions, then congratulations! I would like to see more of this in a movie format though.... 

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