Opinions Subject to Change

 

Everyone has opinions; here are some of mine.

For my movie reviews I try to keep it spoiler free (my notes pages may have spoilers) and written from my perspective as a christian, husband, father, and clean comedian. I consider the story, acting, audio, cinematography, sets, humour, violence, coarse language, drug use, and sexual content.

Warning: even though the reviews themselves are spoiler free, the notes sheets could have spoilers! 

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E.T. The Extra Terrestrial

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Chat (Spoilers)

 
 
 

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posted by Logan Smith at 8:00 am - 0 comments

A Quiet Place Part II

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Review

 
 
 

Picking up immediately after the events of the first film, “A Quiet Place Part II” follows our family on their continued adventure. With their lives thrown into upheaval by the events of the first film they set out to find a new way to live. This forces a change in genre between the films. Where the first is a Horror Drama the sequel is more Horror Adventure sort of like Jurassic Park without all the wonder of creation and dinosaurs.


If you are thinking “that sounds more up my alley than the first, maybe I’ll just watch Part II”. Don’t do it. The world building is primarily in the first movie and the family dynamic will have far less meaning without the context of the first. On the flip side, if you are expecting a similar experience to the first, Part II may give a bit of a surprise. It really is a shift in tone and style. Which to me is a good thing. The feeling of the first would be unsustainable in a sequel and the change is fitting and feels right. The emotional core of the film is not as strong, but there’s a lot more actual stuff going on. There are a few head scratcher  decisions by a couple characters and a strange reveal that don’t add to the story much and I think the filmmakers could have done something better with one of the subplots.


“A Quiet Place Part II” is not as quiet a place as the first movie, and unfortunately introduces some harsh language, not much, but it’s there now. There is also more violence with monsters and between people. The violence is more actiony this time around and less impactful or perhaps more casual.


Just like the first this is a showcase for surround sound. The filmmakers have done an excellent job placing you in the space with the subtle sounds of the world coming from all around you. You see a lot more of the world and the monsters this time around and they look really good.


Overall I like Part II better and give it an 8/10. Really it’s just more my kind of movie. I’m sure there will be plenty of people that prefer the first.

 

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posted by Logan Smith at 8:00 am - 0 comments

Top Gun

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Review

 
 
 

Tom Cruise plays the best pilot in the world. At least he thinks so. He wants to prove himself by earning the title “Top Gun”. He goes with his copilot to the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School. There he meets some rivals and an attractive instructor. What follows is a fairly compelling action drama. From what I had heard about this movie the pacing is more casual than I had expected. It’s mostly a drama with some action moments. I felt the movies starts out  little soft but builds throughout to an excellent ending.


The most impressive part of this movie is the planes, flights, and carriers. That’s probably because they’re real. The flying sequences are exciting and feel right. The great acting ensures you’ll also care about the characters, appreciate their growth, understand their decisions, and laugh with them.


“Top Gun” has a great theme song and excellent surround sound. The audio mix helps to sell the intensity of the flight sequences. But the heart of this one really is the character drama. It’s wrapped in a macho package, but has more in common with “Remember the Titans” than “Mission Impossible”. The conflict is mainly within a group of allies rather than having a villain to conquer.


There isn’t much direct violence, but there is death. The swearing is frequent and casual not aggressive. Where things take a real negative turn is a super awkward, though not explicit, sex scene which I will always skip in any future viewings. As you probably can tell, I’m not a fan of any sex scenes. This one uses silhouettes and is about one minute, but feels like in goes on for days. What goes on in your bedroom is your business. I don’t want to know anything about it and that goes for Tom Cruise especially.


I like “Top Gun” and give it an 8/10. It’s definitely worth watching without the kids.

 

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posted by Logan Smith at 8:00 am - 0 comments

The Tomorrow War

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Review

 
 
 

Thirty years in the future aliens have attacked wiping out almost all of humanity. The humans have created a time travel machine to bring people from the past to fight the war in the future. Why not teach people in the present how to fight the aliens so when they first arrive they get wiped out right away? No reason really. You might say “Logan, but that would mess with the time travel continuity.” Yes it would, but the filmmakers aren’t really worried about that.

 

This movie is kind of fun to watch. The first half of the movie seems to set thing ups pretty nicely and is leading to what appears could be a pretty cool ending, but it doesn’t really turn out that way. There is a lot of stuff laid out that doesn’t ever get a payoff. There are just too many “wait couldn’t you just solve everything by doing - insert obvious solution here” moments in the second half of the movie. The pacing also has a few problems. The movie starts with a flash to a moment in the middle of the movie like “coming up” clip from a YouTube video. It has no context that and is completely meaningless. It basically is just telling us “the main character is going to have some bad stuff happen to him”. The flow for most of the movie is pretty good though.

 

This is an action movie that probably should have leaned more into the horror. And I don’t really like horror. The aliens are basically albino Zerglings crossed with Hydralisks. For those less familiar with Starcraft they are giant doglike insects that can shoot spikes. Pretty scary looking critters. They make a distinctive terrifying clicking noise, or so we’re told. The movie really never drives that point home. they do make a clicking noise, but it’s never scary or memorable.

 

There is a lot of violence and swearing and probably just barely holds on to a PG-13 rating, but almost no sexual content.

 

I don’t regret watching it, but I’ll probably not watch it ever again. I give it a 6/10. It just doesn’t stick the landing and doesn’t have anything particularly exceptional about it.

 

One more gripe is there was some pretty heavy handed attempts at humour that didn’t work out for me.


 


posted by Logan Smith at 8:00 am - 0 comments

Godzilla VS Kong

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Review

 
 
 

Did you want to know more about the history of King Kong or the people on Skull Island? You did, oh that’s too bad. Did you want to catch up with the characters from the previous Godzilla and Kong movies? Oh. Did you like the nuanced and connected stories about the interactions between titans and humans? Oh, you liked that? Well, did you want to see a giant ape fight a radioactive lizard? Excellent, ‘cause that’s what we’ve got.


Godzilla is hurting people and we don’t know why. Instead of trying to figure out why, let’s use Kong to lead us to a special power in the centre of the earth. Why Kong? Because salmon swim upstream. Why do we need the power? Don’t you worry about that. Let us worry about that. Does that sound silly to you? It does to me. After the good story in “Kong: Skull Island” and excellent story in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”, “Godzilla VS Kong” is a big disappointment falling back down to the level of the 2014 movie. It is exciting and kind of interesting, but the continuity and originality drop big time. There are so many small inconsistencies and a few real big ones that just suck. Maybe I came into this movie with my expectations too high, but it’s sad to see the Monsterverse fall.


It’s a good thing the film looks amazing. Godzilla and Kong are fantastic and it’s difficult to imagine how they could possibly look any better. With great battles in full daylight and in the dramatic neon of Hong Kong at night, this movies looks so good. The only drawback is a couple spin shots that stop just before motion sickness.


The sound is also superb. Just like “King of the Monsters” my living room was a theatre surrounded by bellows, blasts and the surprisingly evocative thumping of Kong’s heart.


Violence and gore wise this one lands pretty close to “King of the Monsters” and much less than “Skull Island”. The majority of the violence is between monsters and although lots of humans die, most do so off screen. The’ve toned down the language a little from “King of the Monsters” and “Skull Island” and feels a more comfortable PG-13.


“Godzilla VS Kong” is what most people expect from a monster movie and not what a monster movie can be. I give it a disappointed 7/10. It’s a good movie, but I had hoped for more. My favourite Godzilla is still “King of the Monsters”.

 

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posted by Logan Smith at 8:00 am - 0 comments

Fatherhood

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Review

 
 
 

The film opens with Matt speaking at his wife’s funeral. She died shortly after giving birth to their first child. We follow Matt and his daughter Maddy as they struggle in a single parent life. Inspired by a true story told in the book “Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love”, “Fatherhood” is an earnest and funny telling of a difficult story. I think I would call it a Comedic Drama. There’s lots of jokes throughout, but the focus really is on the dense story. As a Father, that hopes to never be a single parent, I believe the filmmakers have done a great job of capturing the feeling of responsibility and love of Fatherhood. There is a line in the trailer from Matt about raising his daughter “You’r right, I can’t do it, but you know what? I’m gonna do it, because I’m her Father”. That’s the line that convinced me to watch this one and I wasn’t disappointed.

 

The comedy is pretty strong with only a couple jokes that don’t land. I think the trailer does a good job letting you know what kind of comedy to expect. If you take “About a Boy” and add a big dollop of Kevin Hart, you get the humour of “Fatherhood”.  Kevin Hart does a great job of balancing his role as both the main comedic character and the dramatic driver of the story. Melody Hurd also does a great job playing the daughter Maddy. She delivers a varied and emotional performance. The rest of the characters are portrayed well though they have a lot less depth than our main two.

 

Bullying and retaliation play an important, though small, story role and of course a woman dies. There is some sexual content, mostly jokes, and a little nudity. This sexual content along with pretty significant coarse language is what makes “Fatherhood” not a family film. I was surprised by the amount of swearing that, to me, mostly felt out of place.

 

“Fatherhood” is a heartfelt telling of a difficult story kept from being too heavy by lots of laughs. I give it an 8/10. It’s worth watching, but after the kids have gone to bed.

 

Purchase links:

Two Kisses for Maddy book: https://amzn.to/3wbAg72

 


 


posted by Logan Smith at 8:00 am - 0 comments

Raya and the Last Dragon

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Review

 
 
 

Raya is a guardian of the dragon gem in the Heart of Kumandra. The people have been attacked by evil clouds, called druun, that turn people to stone and Raya is seeking out the dragons to save the world. That’s where the movie gets going, twenty minutes in. I would have had more patience for the prologue if the prologue didn’t have a prologue. The first three minutes are a lesson which covers the history of the dragons and druun, unfortunately everything in it is repeated in the next fifteen minutes of the movie. There also seems to be a structural problem where the events of the intro come in direct conflict with the moral of the story to forgive and trust everyone.

 

The movie starts out as an adventure with light comedic elements, but hits a hard transition to goofy comedy with adventure elements once the titular last dragon shows up. You might like it, but the comedy here is not for me. I found most of it overly silly and occasionally in poor taste and has jarring transitions between funny and serious moments. That combined with dialogue trying to sound like the cool kids made “Raya and the Last Dragon” chafing.

 

But it wasn’t all bad. The movie looks and sounds great. The voice acting is good and the characters are pretty consistent. The story is very good and the ending climax is meaningful and satisfying. The epilogue throws out all sense of time and distance to get a cool moment, but it feels nice if you don’t think about it.

 

There is no gore, but there are several fights and, of course, lots of people are turned to stone by nightmare clouds. Although there is no english coarse language there are several obvious stand-ins and lots of name calling and explicit tribalism displayed by both bad guys and good guys.

 

As I see it, “Raya and the Last Dragon” is a good story poorly told. I give it a 6/10 propped up by a good story and technical prowess. To be honest it’s better than I expected from the trailer, but I came away disappointed because the story could have been turned into a masterpiece film and I think this will be one that most people watch once and forget. The mini-reviewers gave it three of six thumbs up they appreciated the humour more than me, but I hope they don’t ask to watch this one much. There’s a lot of behaviour I don’t want them mimicking.

 

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posted by Logan Smith at 8:00 am - 0 comments

Space Jam

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Review

 
 
 

In 1993 Michael Jordan retired from playing basketball and started playing minor league baseball. Meanwhile some aliens decided they needed the Looney Tunes to help their struggling theme park. The Looney Tunes challenge the aliens to a basketball game to decide their fate. Things don’t go as expected for the Looney Tunes and they end up enlisting Michael Jordan to help them in the big game.

 

What does that make this movie? A cartoon comedy or a sports movie? It isn’t a sports movie adventure like “Miracle” or “Angel in the Outfield”. There is only one basketball game and they don’t even follow the rules. It really is a Loony Tunes movie, the first feature length Looney Tunes movie, that happens to have basketball and aliens in it. Having watched my fair share of Looney Tunes, Space Jam is a good addition to the catalogue and doesn’t feel out of place at all to me. You really don’t need to know more about basketball than two teams are trying to get a ball through a hoop and whichever team does that the most wins. It would probably be helpful for some of the human character beats to know a little about current events and pop culture in the 90’s, but you’ll only miss out on a joke or two if you weren’t there. This was of course a kids movie and knowing who Dan Akroyd is was surely not expected of them even in 1996.

 

If you’ve seen Looney Tunes you’ll know what to expect from Space Jam. If you’re new, lots of cartoon slap-stick violence, occasional potty humour, and one cartoon bare behind. There is one instance of characters drinking an unknown substance to get a performance edge, that is funny, but feels a little off in a kids movie to me now.

 

The most impressive part of the movie for me is how well they have combined the cartoons with live action. It doesn’t feel weird or unnatural at all, except one scene where they probably were just reaching too far for the technology of the time. And I guess there is one other shot where it looks unnatural, but it makes sense in context and still looks good.

 

The mini-reviewer’s attention was held through the entire length of the film and they give Space Jam two thumbs up… out of six. They hadn’t watched any Looney Tunes before and I suspect if they were familiar with the characters they would have like it more. The two that didn’t like it said there wasn’t enough funny parts, but I like it and think it’s pretty funny. I give “Space Jam” an 8/10. It’s worth watching if you, like me, like the Looney Tunes style of comedy.

 

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posted by Logan Smith at 8:00 am - 0 comments

A Quiet Place

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Review

 
 
 

Some terrible monsters have attacked all over the earth striking at anything that makes too much noise. We follow one family that has found a way to survive together, but this family, like all real families, has some problems. They’re trying to live as normal a life as possible given the circumstances.


“A Quiet Place” is often classified as a Horror Thriller, but I see it as more of a Horror Drama. It does have the suspense of a thriller, but none of the mystery. If you come in looking for the mystery you find in great thrillers like “The Bourne Identity”, “Minority Report”, or “The Sixth Sense” you’ll find a pretty shallow, mostly nonsensical situation that has a resolution that makes you shake your head thinking “someone would have figured that out before we got to this point”. So don’t do that. Much like “Jaws” isn’t really about hunting a big shark, “A Quiet Place” isn’t about figuring out how to fight monsters. It’s about a family dealing with trauma and hardship wrapped in a horror world. And it does a good job of that, portraying a fairly realistic family dynamic.


I’m generally not a fan of horror. I find most of the stories silly and I get little enjoyment from jump scares and frightening scenes. “A Quiet Place” is more like Horror light. There is lot’s of suspense and several scares, but it seems the goal of the film is to make you cry for the family rather than scream in fright and I believe it succeeds.


The violence is infrequent and not gory, but is presented in an emotional and painful way. Definitely some nightmare fuel here. There is nothing I would consider inappropriate sexual content and no course language which is certainly a rarity in the genre. With a little different editing you could probably make it a PG movie.


If war and monster movies are great demos for the power of your home theatre, “A Quiet Place” is a demo for the subtlety of your surround sound. As the name suggests this is a relatively quiet film that consistently uses the surround speakers to place you in the world with dripping water, rustling leaves, and breezes blowing by. You may be tempted to turn the volume up, but be careful with that, because when it’s loud it’s loud. All of this is what makes the suspense work and jumps work.


“A Quiet Place” is a good movie that is much better than most horror movies and one that will appeal to those not terribly interested in horror. I give it a 7/10. I’m unsure how young an audience would like it, but I wouldn’t be too concerned about this being shown at a young teenager’s sleepover or halloween party.

 

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posted by Logan Smith at 8:00 am - 0 comments

Midway

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Review

 
 
 

On the morn of December 7th 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and awoke a sleeping giant. That’s where “Midway” begins and follows an intelligence officer, pilots, and commanders of the US and Japanese militaries and goes through the battle of Midway. In contrast to “Red Tails” I would call “Midway” a modern war movie where they show some of the war from the Japanese perspective. Don’t get me wrong, this is a film about the Americans and they are the heroes, it’s just that Japan isn’t just some pure evil enemy.


There are a couple great successes in “Midway”. First the HDR is superb and is particularly striking in the explosions.  I disagree with those that criticize the film as looking too perfect and too detailed for reality. If you love the 35mm film grain look, I can understand why you wouldn’t like this digitally shot movie, but that’s not me. I don’t hate film grain, but I’ve never found myself wanting more. Second the audio mix is outstanding and rivals “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” for my top spot in theatre experience sound with planes and bullets flying all around. The bass can be a bit much at times and I considered turning down my sub, but I didn’t and nothing fell off my walls. This is a good demo to show off the power of your home theatre.


If you’re not picky about accent accuracy, then the acting is pretty good here. I don’t think there is any one character that really grabs the reigns and leads the story. It’s an ensemble and each character brings a little to the story amounting to a pretty good telling of the battle of Midway. That’s probably because nearly all the characters are based on real people - no amalgamations of a bunch of different people. There is some dramatization here, but all the historical events are true and in chronological order. This is mostly good, but it does cause a little flow breaking jumpiness around the climax of the film. “Midway” also doesn’t bring anything to try and broaden appeal. It’s pretty much straight telling catering to those interested in the history. No romance, little humour, minimal inter-character drama.

 

Midway has a fair amount of course language and some pretty graphic violence briefly showing people on fire after bombings.


To give a comparison to the more famous “Top Gun”, “Midway” is more battle less banter. At least “ Midway” doesn’t have the super awkward love scene “Top Gun” has. “Midway” won’t become a cult classic, but it’s solid and I like it. I give “Midway” an 8/10 when you've got a hankering to pay respect to those that fought for freedom “Midway” is a good choice.

 

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posted by Logan Smith at 8:00 am - 0 comments