ReasonForOurHope

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Trailer Time: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - Trailer 2



Here is the final trailer for the new movie set in the Harry Potter universe.

I have to say, that it still isn't selling me completely.  Being set in the past makes it feel very much like the Peter Jackson King Kong, and that isn't necessarily a good thing.

I have very little understanding of the characters or the plot, but that might be a plus.  I dislike when the entire story is laid out in the trailer.

I will probably see this movie, but this trailer did little to get me more excited.

Thoughts?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Film Flash: The Magnificent Seven


Magnificent Seven 2016.jpg

15 words or less film review (full review to follow soon)


A thrilling tale when the action starts, with a little too much down time.

3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Film Review: Star Trek Beyond



Sexuality/Nudity Mature
Violence Acceptable
Vulgarity Acceptable
Anti-Catholic Philosophy Acceptable

Star Trek Beyond does not have the intense emotion of the 2009 Star Trek nor does it have the dark overtones and riveting charisma of Benedict Cumberbatch.

But what it does have is a great deal of fun.

The Enterprise and her crew dock at the Federation space station Yorktown.  This affords director Justin Lin a chance to escape the sterile confines of space without bringing us to an Earth-like planet.  The visual design for Yorktown was one of my favorite parts of the film and its beauty and structural strangeness were like something out of the video game Mass Effect.

While stationed at Yorktown, the crew contemplate life choices.  Kirk (Chris Pine) considers leaving the enterprise for a promotion while Spock (Zachary Quinto) and Uhura (Zoe Saldana) are once again having relationship issues.  But all of this is interrupted when a ship from a nearby nebula comes begging for aid.  The Enterprise enters this Nebula, cut off from all other help, and they encounter an enemy of overwhelming force.  It gives nothing away (because it was in all the trailers) to show that the crew gets scattered onto a mysterious alien world and must scramble and scavenge to save the day.

The biggest problem I had with Star Trek Into Darkness was that its tone was so somber and that it felt like it was treading over already well-worn territory.  Star Trek Beyond instead feels like a breath of fresh air.  And while the plot could have been something lifted from any one of the other Trek series, it is the execution that makes it work so well.

And the execution is primarily in two areas: characters and action.

Most of the fun comes with spending time with characters we know and love and seeing their relationships grow, challenge, and change.  The film wisely moves the focus away from primarily only Spock and Kirk.  Instead, it feels much more like an ensemble piece which highlights all of the great qualities of the characters.  My favorite parts of the film are watching the stranded Spock and Bones (Karl Urban) try to survive together.  Urban is absolutely fantastic in the film.  People often point to his spot on impression of Deforest Kelley from the original series.  But I think that overlooks how much passion he brings to the character.  If Spock is the superego, Bones is the id.  Urban shows a man who feels things and doesn't hide them.  It also helps that he has the funniest lines in the entire movie.

More time is also given to Simon Pegg (who co-wrote the film) as Scotty and the late Anton Yelchin as Chekov.  Scotty even has a slightly flirty romantic storyline with the alien Jaylah (Sofia Boutella), a fellow techie who is also a warrior woman stranded on the same planet.

The second place the fun comes in is in the action sequences.  Lin, famous for his work on the Fast and Furious franchise, brings that same dynamic level directing to Star Trek.  The scenes he films are thrilling and engaging.  I loved his creative use of objects and environments to add an unexpected energy to the film.  The action here is better than anything in this rebooted franchise.

As mentioned above, the plot isn't much to write home about.  It isn't bad, but it doesn't rise to the level of skill the director brings.  Idris Elba as the main villain Krull is sufficiently menacing, but any real personality that this talented actor brings is buried under mountains of prosthetics and makeup.

And as in all Star Trek, there are plot holes galore.  I remember thinking towards the final act of the film, "Can't they just beam themselves where they want to go now?  Wouldn't that fix the problem?"  But the extent to which these plot holes ruin your enjoyment will depend on how much you are carried away by the roller coaster ride the movie provides.

Thematically, the movie does not delve as deeply as the previous two outings, but that is not a particular problem.  Yes there are themes about teamwork and loyalty, but Lin is more interested in creating an entertaining action spectacle.  And on that level he greatly succeeds.

Right before the film's release, there was a great deal of press about how the character Sulu (John Cho) was no going to be turned gay, with a male partner and child.  As someone who is mystified by the constant push for the gay-ification of pop culture icons, my guard was up against being slapped in the face with some heavy-handed message.  I understand if some parents would be concerned about the content.  But, honestly, the inclusion was much more subtle that I had expected.  You have Sulu looking at pictures of his partner and their child.  And when they greet each other, there are hugs and back rubs.  While the implications were obvious to me as an adult, I honestly think that as a kid their relationship would go over my head.  Still, its inclusion seems so odd to me.  As the mighty movie critic John Nolte pointed out, in the Star Trek universe with its heavy emphasis on diversity and tolerance, it makes sense that there would be homosexual characters.  But what doesn't make sense is taking an established heterosexual character and making them gay.  Even George Takai, the original Sulu objected to this change.

Overall, this movie is worthy of a place in the Star Trek cannon of films.  And though it is strange to feel nostalgic for a movie that came out only seven years ago, Star Trek Beyond makes us remember the fun and excitement of the 2009 Star Trek while blazing its own path.

4 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Trailer Time: Passengers

I really dig this concept: an interstellar flight with everyone in hypersleep, but then a malfunction wakes someone up.

This movie looks like it could be pretty epic.  And it doesn't hurt that you have two of the most charismatic actors working right now as your leads.  It looks like almost the entire movie is going to be just Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, but that won't stop it from being incredibly watchable.  I can imagine a significant portion of the female population liking the idea of being stuck alone with Pratt or a number of men who would love to have alone time with Lawrence.

I also like that the trailer shows that the stakes keep being raised and there are deeper mysteries afoot.
I can't say if this will be good or bad, but I am very hopeful.



Thoughts?

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sunday Best: Emmys 2016



Tonight are the Emmys, television's highest awards honor.  As an avid television watcher I am always excited to watch and I am also constantly disappointed.  I am going to try to live tweet them again this year (@CatholicSkywalk), but I might not because I still have a lot of work to do before tomorrow

My wife and I watch a LOT of TV.  But so many of the shows we love don't get nominated.  

Anyway, here are my choices for what I would like to win, and my predictions for what I think will win.

CategoryMY CHOICEMY PREDICTION
BEST DRAMABetter Call SaulGame of Thrones
BEST COMEDYNONE   Modern Family
BEST ACTOR, DRAMABob Odenkirk
(Better Call Saul)
Kevin Spacey
(House of Cards)
BEST ACTRESS, DRAMANONEViola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder
BEST ACTOR, COMEDYNONEJeffrey Tambor (Transparent)
BEST ACTRESS, COMEDYNONEJulia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMAJonathon Banks (Better Call Saul)Kit Harington (Game of Thrones)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMANONEMaisie Williams (Game of Thrones)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDYAndre Brauer (Brooklyn 99)Tony Hale (Veep)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDYKate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)Allison Janney (Mom)
BEST VARIETY/MUSIC SHOWSaturday Night Live Key and Peele
BEST REALITY SHOW (COMPETITION)The Amazing Race Dancing with the Stars 


BEST TV MOVIE or MINI-SERIESFargoThe People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story


BEST ACTOR, TV MOVIE/MINI-SERIESBenedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) Cuba Gooding Jr. (The People v OJ Simpson: An American Crime Story)
BEST ACTRESS, TV MOVIE/MINI-SERIESKirsten Dunst (Fargo) Kerry Washington (Confirmation)

I have to admit I'm not that good at picking Emmy winners.  

It is especially difficult when I am unfamiliar with most of the nominnies.

Here are the top 10 highest rated shows on broadcast and cable:

1.  The Walking Dead
2. Empire
3. The Big Bang Theory
4. Game of Thrones
5. The X-Files
6.  Modern Family
7.  Grey's Anatomy
8.  Fear the Walking Dead
9.  Scandal/How to Get Away with Murder/The Voice


It very much surprises me how few (if any) nominations The Walking Dead, The Big Bang Theory, and The X-Files received.  Another thing to make this more challenging is that companies like Netflix do not release their metrics, so we do not know how many people watched Daredevil and Jessica Jones.

My point is that with fewer nominations from higher rated shows, fewer viewers will care.

And as in movie awards, I think there is a prejudice against superhero shows.  Some of the outstanding work we've seen on shows like Daredevil and The Flash will not get nominated because of the subject.

And one last prediction: a LOT of Donald Trump jokes.

Thoughts?


Sunday Best: Emmys 2016



Tonight are the Emmys, television's highest awards honor.  As an avid television watcher I am always excited to watch and I am also constantly disappointed.  I am going to try to live tweet them again this year (@CatholicSkywalk), but I might not because I still have a lot of work to do before tomorrow

My wife and I watch a LOT of TV.  But so many of the shows we love don't get nominated.  

Anyway, here are my choices for what I would like to win, and my predictions for what I think will win.

CategoryMY CHOICEMY PREDICTION
BEST DRAMABetter Call SaulGame of Thrones
BEST COMEDYNONE   Modern Family
BEST ACTOR, DRAMABob Odenkirk
(Better Call Saul)
Kevin Spacey
(House of Cards)
BEST ACTRESS, DRAMANONEViola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder
BEST ACTOR, COMEDYNONEJeffrey Tambor (Transparent)
BEST ACTRESS, COMEDYNONEJulia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, DRAMAJonathon Banks (Better Call Saul)Kit Harington (Game of Thrones)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, DRAMANONEMaisie Williams (Game of Thrones)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR, COMEDYAndre Brauer (Brooklyn 99)Tony Hale (Veep)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS, COMEDYKate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)Allison Janney (Mom)
BEST VARIETY/MUSIC SHOWSaturday Night Live Key and Peele
BEST REALITY SHOW (COMPETITION)The Amazing Race Dancing with the Stars 


BEST TV MOVIE or MINI-SERIESFargoThe People v. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story


BEST ACTOR, TV MOVIE/MINI-SERIESBenedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) Cuba Gooding Jr. (The People v OJ Simpson: An American Crime Story)
BEST ACTRESS, TV MOVIE/MINI-SERIESKirsten Dunst (Fargo) Kerry Washington (Confirmation)

I have to admit I'm not that good at picking Emmy winners.  

It is especially difficult when I am unfamiliar with most of the nominnies.

Here are the top 10 highest rated shows on broadcast and cable:

1.  The Walking Dead
2. Empire
3. The Big Bang Theory
4. Game of Thrones
5. The X-Files
6.  Modern Family
7.  Grey's Anatomy
8.  Fear the Walking Dead
9.  Scandal/How to Get Away with Murder/The Voice


It very much surprises me how few (if any) nominations The Walking Dead, The Big Bang Theory, and The X-Files received.  Another thing to make this more challenging is that companies like Netflix do not release their metrics, so we do not know how many people watched Daredevil and Jessica Jones.

My point is that with fewer nominations from higher rated shows, fewer viewers will care.

And as in movie awards, I think there is a prejudice against superhero shows.  Some of the outstanding work we've seen on shows like Daredevil and The Flash will not get nominated because of the subject.

And one last prediction: a LOT of Donald Trump jokes.

Thoughts?


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fall/Winter Movie Season 2016

Now that Summer Movie Season is over, its time to turn to the upcoming Fall-Winter movies.  This is the time usually when the "important" movies come out.  The reason being that studios want Academy and other awards groups to have their movies fresh in voters minds.

Lately, however, some studios realized that this is a good time to release a big blockbuster because there is less competition, even though more people are home watching television. 

Here is a list, with a few brief thoughts of my own, including on a scale of 1-5 stars my likelihood of seeing it in theaters (1 being “Not at all” 5 being “Cannot wait!”).

So here are some of the movies that are coming out along with my level of excitement.  My ability to get out to the theater may be limited this time around.  But I will try to get to the ones that really excite me.


September 9th ( I know this date is past, but I wanted to include these)

Sully
Sully xxlg.jpeg
American Sniper was the best directed movie that I think Clint Eastwood has done.  Even in his 70's he's pushing himself as a storyteller.  With Tom Hanks, this looks very interesting (***)

The Disappointments Room - I know nothing about this movie other than it has the worst title of the season (*)

September 16th

Snowden
Snowden film poster.jpg
Oliver Stone is very much hit or miss, and there isn't enough in the trailers to grab me, even though I am a huge fan of JGL.  (**)

Hillsong - Let Hope Rise
-As concert movies go, it looks pretty good, but I think I'll wait for video (**)

Bridget Jones's Baby
The main character holding a tablet
Didn't see the second, so I won't see the third (*)

Blair Witch
Blair Witch 2016 poster.png
I have very little desire to see this sequel, as I wasn't a fan of the first in any way (*)

Mr. Church
Mr. Church poster.jpg
The story looks a little convoluted, but I love seeing Eddie Murphy in a dramatic role, where he seems to excel.

September 23

The Magnificent Seven
Magnificent Seven 2016.jpg
It has been a long time since I've seen a Western that I can really get behind.  I love the cast and I think this could be excellent (****)

Storks
Storks (film) poster 2.jpg
This movie looks too cutsie for its own good (**)

Queen of Katwe
Queen of Katwe poster.jpg
This reminds me of Searching for Bobby Fischer, and that is a good thing (***)

The Dressmaker
A blond woman in a black coat with a sewing machine in her one hand and a bag in another, standing in wheat fields, looking out.
Something about the trailers is warning me off of this movie.   I get the feeling that it is ultimately about something distasteful, but I could be wrong (**)

Goat
Goat film poster.png
I loathe hazing in all its forms, so I don't think I'll see this one at all (*)


September 30th
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine Film Poster.jpg
Friends of mine highly recommend the books on which this movie is based and I would love to see Tim Burton return to his better days. (***)

Deepwater Horizon
Deepwater Horizon (film).jpg
As much as I like Mark Wahlberg, the subject just doesn't interest me. (**)

Masterminds
Masterminds (2016 film).png
This movie looks horrid.  Pure putridness.  It doesn't help that 75% of the most recent Ghostbusters are in it. (*)

October 7th

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on The Train.jpg
The trailer just didn't grab me and I'm getting a very Gone Girl vibe (that's not a good thing) (**)

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Middle School The Worst Years of My Life (film).png
This looks awful.  I don't think a little school rebellion is bad, but this looks like it goes too far for a kid's movie (**)

October 11

Shin Godzilla
Godzilla Resurgence Theatrical Poster.jpg
Whether I want to or not, I made a promise to a friend that I would see this in the theater (***)

October 14

Underworld: Blood Wars

It amazes me that this mediocre series is still pushing on.  Good for them, but it's not my taste (**)

Max Steel

This movie looks like generic superhero tropes mixed up in a blender (*)


The Accountant
The Accountant (2016 film).png
The trailers for this have been outstanding and the cast is excellent.  Lately I've loved everything Ben Affleck as done (even when in bad movies like Gone Girl) (****)

Kevin Hart: What Now?
Kevin Hart What Now.jpg
I like Kevin Hart, but I'll wait for video (**)

October 21st

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Jack Reacher Never Go Back poster.jpg
The first one was surprisingly good and the trailers for this make it look better than the first (****)

Keeping Up with the Joneses
Keeping Up with the Joneses (film).png
If this was only a Zach Galifinakas vehicle, I would say that I'd have no interest.  But the rest of the cast looks like this could be some fun (***)

I'm Not Ashamed
I'm Not Ashamed poster.jpg
The trailers moved me, but I'm scared that this will end up like most Christian films: all preaching and no story.

October 28th

Inferno
Inferno (2016 film).png
This might be the only Robert Langdon movie I would consider seeing since it doesn't seem to directly target my faith.  But the series has built up so much ill-will that I think I'll pass (**)


November 4th

Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange poster.jpg
Benedict Cumberbatch is the perfect choice and I can't wait to see this! (*****)

Trolls
Trolls (film) logo.png
This looks absolutely forgettable in every way.


Hacksaw Ridge
Hacksaw Ridge poster.png
I think Mel Gibson could knock this out of the park.  And it's a unique story that I am very interested in seeing.  Plus I love Randall Wallace's writing.

Loving
Loving (2016 film).jpg
This might be good, but everything tells me that this movie is a metaphor for same-sex marriage.  (**)

November 11th

Arrival
Arrival, Movie Poster.jpg
I hope this movie is good, but it could be more like Contact than I would like (***)

November 18th

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them poster.png
Don't get me wrong, I'm so excited to jump back into the world of Harry Potter, but I am a bit skeptical, particularly because I've developed a strange disdain for Eddie Redmayne.  And setting in the past makes me worried about very clunky metaphors about tolerance.  (***)

The Edge of Seventeen
The Edge of Seventeen 2016 film poster.jpg
This would look more intersting to me if it also didn't look so raunchy. (**)

Nocturnal Animals
Nocturnal Animals Poster.jpg
I can't make sense of this story from the trailers, although it has a good cast. (**)


Manchester by the Sea
Manchester by the Sea.jpg
This movie is getting so much awards buzz, but it doesn't seem like there is anything there.  The acting seems fine, but the critics are too hyperbolic (**)

November 23

Bad Santa 2
Bad Santa 2 poster.jpg
Didn't see the first.  I have no desire to see the second. (*)

Moana
Moana Teaser Poster.jpg
Disney has built up a track record comparable to PIXAR, so I think I will give this a try (****)

Allied

I think Robert Zemeckis is one of the best directors around but he doesn't make enough movies.  I want to be excited about this, but the trailer didn't do much for me (***)

December 2

La La Land
La La Land (film).png
Whiplash was surprisingly good.  But this film seems very strange.  It will either be magical and charming or pretentious and off-putting.  I'm hoping for the former because Gosling and Stone have great chemistry. (***)

December 9th

Office Christmas Party
Officechristmasparty.jpg
There is nothing about this that makes it stand out (**)

Miss Sloane
Miss Sloane.png
Looks like a vehicle to get Jessica Chastain an Oscar.  It looks okay but predictable (**)

December 16th

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One, A Star Wars Story poster.png
Cannot wait!  This has the potential to change how we look at Star Wars movies.  Opening night!  (*****)

The Space Between Us
The Space Between Us poster.jpg
This looks like a sweet and creative romantic drama.  Good cast too (***)

Collateral Beauty
Collateralbeautyposter.jpg
This will either be an incredibly touching movie or it will be a piece of crap.  It all depends on how they play they characters of Death, Time, and Love and if they are real or not. (**)

The Founder
The Founder poster.jpg
This looks fascinating, but a bit cold.  Michael Keaton REALLY wants an Oscar (and quite frankly he deserves one). (**)

December 21

Assassin's Creed
Assassin's Creed film poster.jpg
I'm ignorant of this game's main story, but it is very popular.  I'd need to see more in order to be convinced.  (**)

Passengers
Passengers 2016 film poster.jpg
Even without seeing a trailer, the plot is intriguing enough with two great stars.  I'm in.  (****)

Sing
Sing (2016 film) poster.jpg
I don't know... there's something about this that seems like corporate cynicism masking as big-dream idealism.  (**)

December 23

A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls poster.jpg
The trailers hit the metaphor to hard on the head for my taste, but I'm open-minded (**)

Patriots Day
Patriots Day (film).png
This could be interesting and exciting, but I don't think Christmas is a good time to release a movie about the Boston Bombing (***)

December 25th

Why Him?
Why Him.png
This would have more appeal to me if the obvious response of the father wasn't complete and utter revulsion at James Franco.


Thoughts?