Movie Reviews for 2017

Happy Death Day (PG-13)

Here’s a movie that takes a new twist on Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day. In this version, a college sorority sister wakes up every morning (the same morning) just seconds after she is murdered. It takes her a while to figure out what’s happening because unlike other people in the movie, she’s never seen the Bill Murray version. But once she figures out what’s happening, it’s up to her to stop the cycle. 

This is really not a horror movie and the PG-13 rating reveals just how soft the scares are. It’s not really very bloody either. We’re simply along for the ride comparing what we would do with what she does. There are a couple flaws that keep the movie from really hitting a home run.

Even if you get over the Groundhog Day aspects of the story, the paths that she takes to remedy her situation would quickly land her in jail, multiple times, if not a nuthouse. No audience member would follow her dizzy path. 

Secondly, and fatally, she’s not a likable character. She’s not supposed to be likable throughout most of the movie, but when a college girl is THIS unlikable and ornery, no one would want to be around her. Not even horny college guys. Not even audience members. It’s one thing to be stuck-up. But she’s just awful and gross. 

Other than that, you will be engrossed in this crazy tale.    

– Good Movie to Rent

Beyond Skyline (R)

Frank Grillo and Bojana Novakovic star in Beyond Skyline, a fight to save the world from space aliens. This is the follow up to the 2010 original Skyline film that according to the reviews was a real turkey. Never saw the original so I cannot comment on that entry.

The action starts as the LA Cop (played by Grillo) and his son are forced to take the subway home when suddenly the subway cars come to a sudden and very violent stop. The whole event just doesn’t feel right to those involved. It’s not long before the people in the subway tunnel realize everyone on the surface of the city is being drawn to and lifted into the sky (by the thousands) inside a green pulsating light. It sounds hokey but the scenes are actually very well done.

The alien machines that then drop down to clean up any human stragglers are menacing enough to give us a sense of quick impending doom. Not at all a drawn out War of the Worlds clean up mission with slow moving tripods. We’re talking blunt, effective, take every prisoner quickly and we’re on to the next city clean-up action.

The showdown in the final third of the film occurs in the jungles of Southeast Asia. That topography always lends itself to rich exotic scenes, like Schwarzenegger’s Predator film and Jolie’s Tomb Raider. This is a fun fight back film and there’s enough action here to warrant a trip to the theater. It will make a terrific rental as well.

The bloopers reel at the end is worth watching so stick around for that.

– See it on the Big Screen

Geostorm (PG-13)

With a star studded cast and a cool premise I had high hopes going into this movie. The trailers were well done. But the thin script and made-for-TV feel really makes for a lightweight end-of-the-world movie.

Gerard Butler, Ed Harris, Andy Garcia and other faces you probably know all team up to save the world. The lines delivered sound like first draft stuff and you know where most of it is going from the outset. We’ve seen CGI footage of monster waves taking out cities and freezing cold air (I’m assuming Pluto temps) that can freeze waves of ocean water solid in mid-tube. We’ve also seen it done better in previous genre films like this.

Forget the crazy weather stuff . . . the hard science makes no sense either. The Space Shuttle was the worst space vehicle ever designed, killing more people (14) than all other space vehicles combined. It was overly complicated, required constant massive repairs, never came close to hitting any kind of schedule and was simply too expensive and dangerous to fly. It had the highest fatality odds of any vehicle of any kind in history. A U.S. built deathtrap. NASA was forced to throw in the towel and let the Russians take over the job of getting our astronauts to and from space. To think we’d go back to that same flawed vehicle idea is ludicrous on all levels.

Then there’s emergency space walking. A hole in a space suit is lethal. Flying debris in space will cause holes in your suit. If you thought the film Gravity was far fetched, that’s a National Geographic Documentary compared to this farce.

I expect you’ll be doing too much eye-rolling to really enjoy the nonsense they are throwing at you in this would-be epic climate disaster sci-fi movie. It should have gone straight to video.

– Wait for HBO

Blade Runner 2049 (R)

The long awaited sequel to Blade Runner is here. And for those old enough to have watched the first one on the big screen it’s a nice slow burn of a ride. That’s code for it needed more editing to shorten the long scenes. For those younger folks out there, it’s a slow paced story like many films of the 80’s, but with a 3 hour running time that might put younger folks to sleep. Until the end.

This time around Ryan Gosling plays the Blade Runner (Officer K,) who has to round up the old replicant models that were less reliable than the 2.0 versions. Not that Harrison Ford, the original Blade Runner, was forgotten. As with the Star Wars franchise, he’s still here and figures prominently in the story.

Robin Wright plays tough as nails Lieutenant Johsi. But if it’s tough-women role-model films you’re looking for, this may be the film of the year as Blade Runner 2049 is chock full of hard core women. It’s also is chock full of bad-ass loud scenes like the one pictured above.

Those scenes are certainly the Blade Runner you were hoping for. There’s a lot at stake here and it’s best if you don’t know anything about it going in. But as the 3 hours plod meticulously along just know that as the end closes in, the pace will quicken, the throbbing bass-heavy techno music will rise to AC/DC levels, and the payoff is actually satisfying.

– See it on the Big Screen