Please be good… That’s pretty much all I can say to this movie.

A little background on the film, as there’s a bit of history. In 1934, famed novelist Dame Agatha Christie wrote the novel, Murder on the Orient Express, known in America as Murder in the Calais Coach. It followed the exploits of Christie’s first published character and arguably her most famous, Detective Hercule Poirot, appearing in thirty-three novels and many more other forms. Specifically, Orient Express was Poirot’s eighth outing in Christie’s books. The book would eventually be adapted into the movie, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS in 1974, which included a pretty star-studded cast, like Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Anthony Perkins, Michael York, and Jacqueline Bisset, just to name a few. Hell, I might check this movie out in the future if I have the time. It would be adapted two more times in the future. In 2001, it was adapted into a TV movie movie starring Alfred Molina. Ha! Even Japan adapted it into a TV mini-series in 2015, which… I believe it still going. IMDb doesn’t credit it having an end-year. Hmm.

Fast-forward to 2017 and we have, yet another, remake. So what does this movie look like it’s about? It looks like it’s about this luxury train, holding a colorful cast of characters. Someone is murdered, but everyone is a suspect, and it’s up to the “world’s greatest detective” Hercule Poirot, to figure out who did it. Seems pretty standard, but neither this book, nor this character, would be so popular if it wasn’t better than “standard.”

Here’s the star-studded cast. Starring, we have Kenneth Branagh (DUNKIRK [2017], VALKYRIE [2008], and WILD WILD WEST [1999]), Daisy Ridley (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS [2015] and upcoming films STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI [2017] and PETER RABBIT [2018]), Lucy Boynton (REBEL IN THE RYE [2017], SING STREET [2016], MISS POTTER [2006], and the upcoming BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY [2018]), Josh Gad (MARSHALL [2017], LOVE & OTHER DRUGS [2010], 21 [2008], and the upcoming FROZEN 2 [2019]), and Michelle Pfeiffer (MOTHER! [2017], HAIRSPRAY [2007], SCARFACE [1983], and the upcoming ANT-MAN AND THE WASP [2018]). In addition, we also have Judi Dench (VICTORIA & ABDUL [2017], PRIDE & PREJUDICE [2005], and TOMORROW NEVER DIES [1997]), Penelope Cruz (THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY [2016], BANDIDAS [2006], and VANILLA SKY [2001]), Johnny Depp (PIRATES: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES [2017], SWEENEY TODD [2007], DONNIE BRASCO [1997], and upcoming films SHERLOCK GNOMES [2018] and FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD [2018]), Derek Jacobi (CINDERELLA [2015], THE GOLDEN COMPASS [2007], and THE SECRET OF NIMH [1982]), and Willem Dafoe (THE FLORIDA PROJECT [2017], MR. BEAN’S HOLIDAY [2007], BASQUIAT [1996], and the upcoming AQUAMAN [2018]).

Now for the crew. Directing is… *double take* seriously, dude?! Kenneth Branagh?! No complaints now. Anyway, he’s known for directing CINDERELLA (2015), SLEUTH (2007), HAMLET (1996), and the upcoming ARTEMIS FOWL (2019). Penning the screenplay is Michael Green, known for BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017), LOGAN (2017), and GREEN LANTERN (2011). Composing the score is Patrick Doyle, known for THE EMOJI MOVIE (2017), IGOR (2008), HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE (2005), and the upcoming ARTEMIS FOWL. Finally, the cinematographer is Haris Zambarloukos, known for DENIAL (2016), THOR (2011), SLEUTH (2007), and the upcoming ARTEMIS FOWL.

Overall, I’m pretty excited for this. Can’t wait.

This is my honest opinion of: MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2017)


Famed detective Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh) has just wrapped up a case and is making an attempt to go home and rest, hoping aboard the luxury train a friend of his owns, where Hercule meets a colorful group of people, one of them being a shady fellow named Edward Ratchett (Johnny Depp), who mentions that he has enemies and they’re coming after him and wants to employ Hercule to protect him. Hercule refuses and as a result, Ratchett is murdered that night, repeatedly stabbed to death. Hercule, unable to turn away from these events, attempts to figure out who did it.


I liked it. It’s got some style, which Branagh always has up his sleeves, and some great performances and talent. It’s not perfect, in fact there are some awkward moments that are a little too obvious for me to ignore, but it’s still a fun time.

Actually, I’m going to get the awkward notes out of the way and they mostly revolve around Branagh’s performance. There’s these really odd sequences in his private time when he’s reading a book and laughing. Thing is, his laugh is, well, awkward. It’s the laugh of a cartoon character; really high-pitched and child-like. I know Hercule isn’t supposed to be Batman-serious when he’s working, but these lighter moments may be a little too light. But there’s a flipside to this coin. Early on, we learned that Hercule has no interest in seeking romance as there’s already someone special in his life, Katherine. We don’t know what happened to her, but Hercule makes a huge deal about it. How so, you may ask? He hold a small picture frame of her in both hands and constantly says, “My Katherine,” in Belgian. This happens at least three times during the movie and it always starts with that line. But more than that, he talks out loud to the picture. Not in a reminiscent tone, or a therapeutic conversation way, but in a crazy stalker kind of way. Yeah, it’s pretty weird and a little uncomfortable. To make things even stranger, this subplot of “his Katherine” amounts to nothing in the story. It doesn’t really play a part in any decisions he makes. I suppose someone could argue, “No! It’s the one time he shows vulnerability and it’s through Katherine that he learns to think with his heart, not his head.” Well that’s certainly a cop out and a little too convenient and vague. We don’t know Katherine, so we can’t intimately know the impact she had on his way of thinking.

Thankfully, the rest of the movie is pretty solid.

The first thing I noticed was how great the cinematography was, and if you know me, I only notice it when it’s the best of movies, and here is no exception. This film feels huge. Wide shots of cities that look gorgeous. That’s another thing about this movie, there’s not a single frame that isn’t stunning. With the exception of one bit with Poirot walking through the train with Caroline (Michelle Pfeiffer) where every second a window frame blocks the audience’s view of the actors and would induce a headache if it lasted any longer, this is a very pretty movie to look at. If nothing else, you could put it on and have it in the background on your TV and class up your living room.






The cast of characters is way too big for me to go through, and honestly, most don’t get much screen time, so I wouldn’t be able to comment anyway, but I’ll mention the standouts.

Pfeiffer is… well, what do you think? She shines radiantly in this flick and is probably the best character. Her granddaughter was killed, her daughter died not long after, and her son-in-law killed himself in grief, and she wants revenge. So she managed to recruit every single person that was related to her family and the failed case that didn’t bring in John Cassetti. She organized everything and made everyone play a part and everyone affected by Cassetti’s actions got a turn in stabbing him to death. That was some powerful shit. And she rips your heart out when she confesses. You really see that fire in her eyes, wanting to take responsibility and let these people live real lives and not let Cassetti ruin them, as justice failed.

Surprise second favorite goes to Gad as MacQueen. Usually, I associate this man with playing annoying and not-funny comedy roles. I can’t name more than two films where he played drama. But lo and behold, like most funny people, he does drama pretty well as the son of the disgraced lawyer who didn’t pin the crimes on Cassetti in time before the long-standing wrongfully-accused woman committed suicide. I believed that he was angry at his father’s fall from grace and it would have been a pretty easy sell to get him to play a part in Cassetti’s organization, right by his side no less.

Hell, even Depp wasn’t too bad. That’s pretty rare for the man, especially these days. The moment he comes on screen as Ratchett, you don’t like him. You know this man is a slimy dick-weed who needs that pretentious mustache slapped right off his face. But you also understand that subtle urgency in his tone that he knows his enemies are close by and knows that he has no extensive means of protecting himself outside of his single handgun. He’s clearly a weasel, but he is a man asking for help and afraid for his life. It’s not until later on when his true identity is revealed that we might actually be on the murderer’s side. Despite how brief Depp’s role is, it’s probably for the best as it’s a solid reminder that the man is a good actor when given something good to work with.

I also give some major props to the writing in that, despite most of the characters not getting much screen time, I find it bizarre that I can still identify most their connections to the child that was murdered prior to the story. Caroline was the mother, MacQueen was the son of the disgraced lawyer, Dragomiroff (Judi Dench) was the godmother, Hardman (Dafoe) was the lover of the accused woman who committed suicide, Pilar (Penelope Cruz) was the girl’s nanny, Elena (Boynton) was the older sister, and Doctoqr Arbuthnot (Odom Jr.) was a war friend of her father’s. The only characters whose connections I didn’t remember were Mary (Daisy Ridley), Edward (Derek Jacobi), Count Rudolf (Sergei Polunin), and Hildegarde (Olivia Colman). I know there were others, but I don’t even remember their character names, let alone much else. But I’m surprised I remembered that much about them. Usually, movies like these, the details go over my head faster than a bullet leaves the barrel of a gun, so I was impressed enough.






While this isn’t necessarily a complaint toward the movie, I do think you should go in with a certain mind-set. What I mean is, if you’re anything like me, and you like “whodunnit” stories and you actually like to sit with the detective and figure out who did it as they do, then you might be a tad disappointed. While the movie as a narrative flows swimmingly enough, if you wanted the movie to take a breather and let you try and figure out who did it with Poirot, then the movie is a little too fast-paced for that. When he finds a clue, he knows exactly what questions to ask and knows exactly where to find answers. In that sense, the fun is a little stale and you have to go in knowing that this movie is self-contained and won’t engage audiences that effectively.

Overall, I can’t say that I’d see this movie too many more times in future, or certainly not owning it on Blu-Ray, but I had a fun time with my one view, so I am going to recommend it as a matinee screening, or a very strong rental. It’s visually appealing to look at, the sets are gorgeous, the cinematography incredible, the performances solid, and the characters largely memorable. But because I couldn’t engage in the story and figure out the mystery with the Poirot, the fun is hampered, and being the reason why repeat viewings would be vastly limited. Still, I enjoyed myself and think it’s worth a watch.

My honest rating for MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2017): 4/5




Say what now?! This is a sequel?! *Wikipedia search* Well skin me alive and call me naked, this is a sequel! Specifically to the film MRS. BROWN (1997), and Judi Dench is reprising her role as Queen Victoria. I guess if you wanted to make another movie about her and her wacky adventures in her later years, why not make it a sequel? Oh, and it’s also based on a book? Jeez, this Queen certainly gets around in media.

The story looks like it’s about Victoria and she’s become tired with her life and role. But then she meets a young Indian servant and the two strike up a friendship, asking him to teach her all about his culture and reinvigorates her love of life. But it comes at a cost. Her peers start to think that she’s lost her mind, playing nice with a servant. Hence the conflict. It looks like it could be decent and anything Dench touches is golden, so I’m all on board.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Judi Dench (TULIP FEVER [2017], CASINO ROYALE [2006], SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE [1998], and the upcoming MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS [2017]) and Ali Fazal (FURIOUS 7 [2015] and 3 IDIOTS [2009]). In support, we have Eddie Izzard (ROCK DOG [2017], ACROSS THE UNIVERSE [2007], and THE AVENGERS [1998]), Michael Gambon (KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE [2017], THE GOOD SHEPHERD [2006], and SLEEPY HOLLOW [1999]), Tim Pigott-Smith (JUPITER ASCENDING [2015], V FOR VENDETTA [2005], and CLASH OF THE TITANS [1981]), Adeel Akhtar (THE BIG SICK [2017], PAN [2015], and THE DICTATOR [2012]), and Olivia Williams (MAN UP [2015], PETER PAN [2003], and THE SIXTH SENSE [1999]).

Now for the crew. Directing is Stephen Frears, known for FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (2016), THE QUEEN (2006), and HIGH FIDELITY (2000). Penning the screenplay is Lee Hall, known for WAR HORSE (2011) and BILLY ELLIOT (2000). Composing the score is Thomas Newman, known for PASSENGERS (2016), WALL·E (2008), THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994), and the upcoming THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE (2017). Finally, the cinematographer is Danny Cohen, known for FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS, ROOM (2015), and PIRATE RADIO (2009).

Overall, I’m very curious. Not super hyped, but call me eager.

This is my honest opinion of: VICTORIA & ABDUL


Set in early 1900. Queen Victoria (Judy Dench) is still a revered queen, now serving as the longest running monarch in history. However, she’s grown tired of her position. Her loved ones have passed on and she’s become both apathetic to her own appearance and position. But all of that changes when she meets Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), an Indian servant, who eventually becomes Victoria’s closest friend, teaching her of Indian culture and slowly regains her love of life, despite the deeply rooted arguments from her staff.


This was a really good movie. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

The movie opens on a pretty humorous line. “Based on real events” pause for a second, “… mostly.” This movie had me at “hello” and I was already giggling.

However, and this is pretty consistent for the first half hour or so, the movie loses its momentum. There’s clichés, like the intro of the protagonist running late for work, and the movie isn’t all that funny for awhile. I mean, some gags land, like when a servant tries to wake up Victoria, but all she does is groan. I thought that was hilarious. But for awhile, the humor really falls flat. Hell, fifteen, maybe even twenty minutes into the movie is when the title of the movie appears. That was weird. Why bother by that point?

Having said all that, there is a… I’m not sure how to describe it, but a level of engagement to Dench’s performance in the beginning. She’s so tired, possibly bored, and gives zero shits about everything that’s going on around her. She eats at her own pace, forcing her peers around her to eat quickly, or else their food will be taken away.

About the only saving grace in the film’s comedy in the beginning is Mohammed (Adeel Akhtar), who coud have so easily been that panicky hysterical character that no one likes, but for whatever reason, his exaggerations of what he believes the English do in their spare time is so funny. He does get a little grating later in the film, but he has a bad-ass scene that makes up for all of it.

But honestly, after that first half hour of lackluster comedy, the laughs, as well as the story, pick up immensely. Abdul is impossibly charming and likable. You immediately feel for Victoria and everything that she’s lived through. All of her loved ones are gone and all that’s left is her position and her ambitious and unlikable children who want her power. But meeting Abdul, she learns to find happiness and learns about the Indian culture. There’s this infectious chemistry that Dench and Fazal share, an energy that constantly makes you smile as he describes the Taj Mahal, or teaches her Indian languages and how her eyes light up as she learns, it’s such a beautiful connection that they share. At some point, Dench’s performance gets a little hammy, but it’s so brief that you almost have to remember that it gets there, and it’s not like it isn’t explained (she gets a little drunk), but this is what makes up the entire movie: their friendship and it is really heart-warming to watch just how much she defends him despite all the criticism from those around her.

As much praise as I have with the film, there are a couple elements that I complain about.

A smaller issue is that we never see enough of Abdul and Mohammad interacting. Every scene they share is Abdul being excited, and Mohammad being nervous. We don’t see enough of the two actually being friends. Sure, that would take away from the focus of the relationship between him and Victoria, but it still would have been nice to dedicate a five minute scene of the two men really interacting like friends.

But the bigger issue I took was Abdul’s wife. I believe her involvement in this story is pure fluff. We don’t see hide or hair of her, or even get a single reference to her existence until the one hour mark, and even when she does show up, for all the build-up to her, she barely contributes to the story. Sure, sure, you could argue that it’s all a set up to learn about Abdul’s… procreation issues, or whatever that was, and Victoria’s council to try and get him sent back to India, but I feel like this is where creative liberties would have been needed and find something more sensible to get that kind of information.

Also, there were two incidences that involve Victoria being upset with Abdul. One being when she discovered that it was Muslims, or another Indian group that I can’t remember, were at the head of some revolt that took the lives of British soldiers and then later for another reason that I can’t remember either. All I remember is that these two scenes were resolved as quickly as they were introduced and happen pretty close to each other, so I kept wondering why the writer didn’t just pick a problem and go all the way with it, or combine the two problems into one dramatic scene.

Overall, I really liked this movie. The core characters are ridiculously wonderful to watch and hang out with, it’s funny, dramatic, all around fun for anyone even half interested in this story. I highly recommend this in theaters. It doesn’t have the widest of releases, so you may need to really look for it, but I say it’s worth the effort to see in theaters. History’s most unlikely friendship is arguably one of its most endearing.

My honest rating for VICTORIA & ABDUL: a strong 4/5


THE GLASS CASTLE (quick) review

Not much of a story for how I know about this one. I’ve seen the trailer maybe once, and the movie’s cast alone has me hooked. It’s based on a book of the same name, a memoir to be precise. It looks like it’s about this young, upscale woman with a serious stick up her ass and reflects on her childhood living on the move with her family, but eventually leaves them behind and makes her own way and holds some sort of grudge against her father, specifically. I think I have this story pegged, but it could be good.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Brie Larson (KONG: SKULL ISLAND [2017], ROOM [2015], 21 JUMP STREET [2012], and Marvel’s upcoming CAPTAIN MARVEL [2019]) and Woody Harrelson (WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES [2017], THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN [2016], NATURAL BORN KILLERS [1994], and the upcoming SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY [2018]). In support, we have Naomi Watts (THE BOOK OF HENRY [2017], DEMOLITION [2016], KING KONG [2005], and the upcoming straight-to-TV Divergent conclusion ASCENDANT, no release date announced) and Max Greenfield (ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE [2016], HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS [2016], and TV show NEW GIRL [2011 – ongoing]).

Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing is Destin Daniel Cretton, known for a bunch of short films. Cretton’s partner-in-pen is Andrew Lanham, known for THE SHACK (2017). Composing the score is Joel P. West, known for GRANDMA (2015). Finally, the cinematographer is Brett Pawlak, known for MAX STEEL (2016), THE MEDDLER (2016), and TV show HALO 4: FORWARD UNTO DAWN (2012).

Overall, I’m pretty excited for this, but I’m pretty bias toward the cast.

This is my honest opinion of: THE GLASS CASTLE


Based on true events, set in 1989. Jeanette (Brie Larson) is an accomplished and talented writer, happily about to get married to her fiancé David (Max Greenfield). However, her life wasn’t so glitzy and glamorous because as a child, she grew up with her siblings in a harsh environment. Though their father Rex (Woody Harrelson) was a loving and well-meaning dad and husband to his wife Rose Mary (Naomi Watts), he was also a drunk, had a great capacity for cruelty. As an adult, her relationship with her parents is complex and uncertain as she struggles with accepting her family into the life she’s built for herself.


I really liked this movie.

First and foremost, Larson brings her A-game, as per usual. She’s a woman trying to come to grips with her family and how different they are from her, and just how much she herself evolved from when she was a child. A kid growing up with imagination and an enthusiasm for the future, but also never staying in one place and always finding ways to take care of her drunken father. Even the younger versions of Jeanette, young Ella Anderson and younger Chandler Head do fantastic jobs at showing love toward and fear of their father over the years. Harrelson also once again proves his gravity on screen as we see a complicated man who loves his family, but seems to love making promises that he’ll never be able to keep. He’s always on the move, refusing to conform to society’s rules and wants to blaze his own trails. When he’s sober, he’s loving, playful, and full of bizarre-yet-sensible wisdom. When he’s drunk, he’s careless, destructive, abusive, even violent. Even when his children want him to stop drinking, he’ll put himself through the grind to better himself. But when he does, he isn’t sober long before something pushes him back over that ledge. Again, I’m nominating Harrelson as a national treasure.

The story does remind me a little bit of CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (2016), in the respect of a father who tries to take care of his family without doing it by the rules of what is considered “normal,” so there is a lot of bias that I have toward this film for its bold statements. Beyond that, I do love how this film does explores the complexities of generational gaps of thinking and ways of life, the difference between imparting wisdom and intelligence and the consequences of not knowing the difference. It’s a very fascinating film full of emotion, subtle and not-so-subtle intensity. Sure, there’s a few moments that seem a little too far-fetched to be taken seriously, but this movie is very good and I highly recommend it.

My honest rating for THE GLASS CASTLE: a strong 4/5


Quick Netflix review: HUGO (2011)

Starring: Asa Butterfield (THE SPACE BETWEEN US [2017], MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN [2016], and THE BOY IN THE STRIPPED PAJAMAS [2008]), Chloë Grace Moretz (NEIGHBORS 2 [2016], CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA [2014], and KICK-ASS [2010]), and Ben Kingsley (COLLIDE [2017], THE JUNGLE BOOK [2016], and SPECIES [1995]).

In support: Sacha Baron Cohen (ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS [2016], LES MISÉRABLES [2012], and BORAT [2006]), Helen McCrory (THEIR FINEST [2017], 007 SKYFALL [2012], and HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE [2009]), Emily Mortimer (THE SENSE OF AN ENDING [2017], SHUTTER ISLAND [2010], SCREAM 3 [2000], and the upcoming Disney revival, MARY POPPINS RETURNS [2018]), Christopher Lee (THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES [2014], STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH [2005], and GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH [1990]), and Jude Law (KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD [2017], SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW [2004], GATTACA [1997], and upcoming films FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD [2018] and SHERLOCK HOLMES 3, no release date announced).

Director: Martin Scorsese (SILENCE [2016], THE DEPARTED [2006], GOODFELLAS [1990], and the upcoming THE IRISHMAN [2018]). Screenwriter: John Logan (ALIEN: COVENANT [2017], THE LAST SAMURAI [2003], and GLADIATOR [2000]). Composer: Howard Shore (DENIAL [2016], THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING [2001], and SE7EN [1995]). Cinematographer: Robert Richardson (LIVE BY NIGHT [2016], A FEW GOOD MEN [1992], and PLATOON [1986])


Set in the 1930s, Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) is an orphan in Paris after his father (Jude Law) tragically perished in a fire. He lives in a local train station’s clockworks, repairs and modifying it to keep himself busy. But his real goal is repairing the broken automaton that his father had found, but never finished, so Hugo runs around the station looking for the necessary gears to fix the machine, all while avoiding the station’s stalwart limp-legged inspector (Sacha Baron Cohen). However, after he attempts to steal a piece from the station’s toy store and it’s owner Georges (Ben Kingsley), and Georges steals Hugo’s notebook of necessary tools and parts to repair the automaton. Following the older man home, Hugo eventually meets Georges’ goddaughter Isabelle (Chloë Grace Moretz), and the two strike up a friendship as she helps Hugo repair his machine and the two discover a love for films and fate of one of the most celebrated film-makers of a bygone era.


Jumped from one Paris-set film to another. Shocking how it took me this long to see this movie. I guess I was in denial that a borderline kids flick was a product of a director who has made some of the most violent films in cinema. The idea that he was even capable of doing whimsy and innocence, you’d think this was a Spielberg film than Scorsese. But no, it’s a Scorsese film and… honestly, it’s brilliant. Despite the story being about a pair of kids, the movie doesn’t talk down to it’s younger audience. Both characters, Hugo and Isabella, barely resemble kids, but more like young adults and both Butterfield and Moretz carry the film beautifully, making this movie their best roles that I’ve seen them in, and that’s saying something because it’s hard to top Hit-Girl. But everyone’s fantastic: Kingsley, McCrory, and yes, even one of my least favorite actors of all time, Cohen, was really good. Eh, he got a little too goofy in some parts, like when he’s talking to his romantic interest Lisette (Emily Mortimer). But you know what? A little goofy is infinitely more preferable than disgustingly unbearable, like I usually associate him as. If you’re a lover of film like I am, then this movie will leave you sitting, staring wide-eyed like a kid when you see the magic of watching A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902) and how those old-time silent films were made. It’s, for a lack of a better word, magical and I say if you haven’t seen this movie, then you’re doing yourself a huge disservice.

My honest rating for HUGO: 5/5



The perfect old man’s movie. I say this because my dad loves golf and if he knew this movie was coming out, he’d be all over this shit.

So… is this based on a true story? I know it’s based on a book, so… is the book based on a true story? The inventors of golf… kinda. That’d be an odd subject to fabricate. But it’s also a story about social class and rebellion against the orthodox, and… I don’t know, this feels like it’s going to be a pretty unfocused movie. But it seems like early reviews have been pretty kind so far. IMDb has is at 7.0/10 (as of 4/14/2017) and RottenTomatoes has it at 67% (as of 4/14/2017), so it looks like it could be promising.

Let’s take a look at the on screen talent, shall we? Starring at the titular character, we have Jack Lowden (A UNITED KINGDOM [2017], DENIAL [2016], and upcoming film DUNKIRK [2017]). Beside him, we have Peter Mullan (HERCULES [2014], WAR HORSE [2011], CHILDREN OF MEN [2006], and the upcoming JUNGLE BOOK [2018]), Ophelia Lovibond (MAN UP [2015], GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY [2014], and TV show ELEMENTARY), and the legendary Sam Neill (HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE [2016], EVENT HORIZON [1997], JURASSIC PARK [1993], and the upcoming THOR: RAGNAROK [2017]).

Now for behind the scenes. Directing the film is Jason Connery, known for a bunch of unknown films. Co-writing the script is Pamela Marin and Kevin Cook, both making their feature-length debut. Congrats, you two. Composing the music is Christian Henson, known for THE DEVIL’S DOUBLE (2011), MALICE IN WONDERLAND (2009), and video game ALIEN: ISOLATION. Finally, the cinematographer is Gary Shaw, known for RUSH (2012) and MOON (2009).

Overall, I’m not sure what to make of this. The acting looks great, but I’m afraid that there won’t be a very good connection between ambitions of golf and social class themes, but I digress. I need to see it to see how it all pans out.

This is my honest opinion of: TOMMY’S HONOUR


Set in Scotland, circa 1866 through 1875. Tommy Morris (Jack Lowden) is the son of Tom Morris (Peter Mullan), who is the green’s keeper for the local golf course. Despite the elder Morris’ respectable position, he is still treated as a second-class citizen by the higher society folks. In turn, this makes Tommy uneasy and strives to break through his social class and be better than what everyone thinks he is. Tommy gets older and starts competing in golf tournaments, winning for years straight, falls in love with a waitress named Meg (Ophelia Lovibond), and the struggles of his family and profession.


It’s really good, actually. I can tell it won’t be for everyone, but I liked this one.

The biggest selling point is clearly the acting from the leads, Lowden and Mullan, and dear God, Lowden commands the screen. I feel like there’s a great passion behind each delivery of his lines and you feel the weight of everything he’s going through. From trying to be taken seriously as a golfer from his elderly and higher class peers, to his family accepting his lower class wife, he carries the film so well, you’d swear you time-traveled and were watching the actual events play out as they really did.

And if there was anyone that might have stolen the show as much as Lowden, Lovibond. Holy hell, this woman is charming and engaging like you wouldn’t believe. While most of the women in the movie seem to take kindly to prestigious golfers here, Meg is playfully apathetic toward Tommy’s accomplishments. Though she likes him well enough, there is a bit of work that Tommy has in front of him before the two end up in a relationship. There’s also a pretty tragic backstory to her during this amazing scene between her and Tommy’s mother, and Lovibond showcases some incredible talent that I hope lands her some great roles in the future. She’s generous, supportive, determined, grounded, everything to make for a great role that Lovibond nails, making her probably one of the more memorable roles I’ve seen this year.

In fact, what really helps this movie is how real the setting feels. The architecture, the fashion, little touches like period-correct photos of the actors. I really liked that a lot. For some reason, you never see those.

But of course, the golfing scenes are very well done and authentically tense. While I can tell there are some obviously fake CGI golf balls every now and again, the key to making any golf scene “on the edge of your seat” is toning up the stakes and I’m pretty sure every match that Tommy competes in, there’s something that makes his victories important, so when he wins, we share in his satisfaction and cheering of the crowd.

I suppose there are a few negatives that should be addressed. For one thing, while I’m not privy toward many films that cover the whole “social class” theme, this movie does feel like it would hit the clichés a movie like this would. There’s always a rebel trying to rise above what is expected, and succeeds in some inspiring way. While this is done effectively, I can’t deny that it does feel like it’s been done before, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t often see stories about his kind of thing.

I also didn’t like how the mother was treated, as far as writing is concerned. She’s barely in the movie in the first half. The first scene I remember her in is when Tommy’s playing with his younger brother and his mom comes in and tells him to stop goofing around and continue studying. Bitch, he’s bonding with his brother. Get the hell over it. And we don’t really see hide or hair of her until Tommy marries Meg. Actually, I take that back, we get a quick sequence of her investigating Meg’s life with her family, which leads to a reveal, which eventually leads to the scene between her and Meg. And while that scene between the two women is a powerhouse performance on both sides, it’s still never shown why we should care about the mother’s judgments. She was such a bit character before the film and becomes a bit character after said scene, we never a sense of who she is and why we should care about her. She’s been demonized, when it feels like she deserved a more prominent role and probably resulting in a deeper understanding of her motivations and way of thinking. I know someone’s probably going to point out how she doesn’t like Meg because she’s of lesser social standing than even Tommy, but again, this is only learned during that scene. For such an important moment in the movie, only one of two characters involved felt really important themselves.

Overall, I think this is a pretty strong film. I was, indeed, worried that the golfing stuff and the social class themes wouldn’t mix well, but I guess that’s why I’m a movie reviewer, rather than a movie writer. It’s compelling, emotional, thoroughly interesting, it’s a decent watch whether you’re a golf fan or not. But if you are, I think you’ll get your money’s worth. I know the very concept of golf will turn people away from this movie, and that’s a shame because it does do a lot right. So I recommend this in theaters. Mantinee viewing if you’re paranoid about whether or not this is your thing, but still want to give it a chance. If not in theaters, then I highly recommend a rental. It’s worth seeing folks, weather because of the acting, or the time period, or the sport subject, it’s a really good flick.

My honest rating for TOMMY’S HONOUR: 4/5


THE JUNGLE BOOK (2016) review

Ahh, good ole Disney and its newfound fetish of turning its classic animated films into live-action. Well I guess if the technology can support it, then why not, right? And I gotta say, this film didn’t look half bad. I probably didn’t have too much to compare this to as I haven’t seen any Jungle Book film in ages, and I do mean the animated Disney film as well as the 1994 live-action adaptation…which was also Disney. Anyway, the cast looked downright amazing. Idris Elba, Ben Kingsley, Giancarlo Esposito, Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Scarlett Johansson, and Jon Favreau as the director. There was no reason for this to be anything less than good. My expectations were high, and now that I’ve seen it, it’s time to me to give my honest opinion of THE JUNGLE BOOK (2016).


Raised by wolves since he was an small child, the man-cub Mowgli (Neel Sethi) lives happily among his new family under the careful watch of his adopted father Akela (voiced by Giancarlo Esposito). However, after a prolonged absence from the jungle, the intimidating tiger Shere Khan (voiced by Idris Elba), whom has a personal vendetta against man, demands Mowgli’s head. Despite being turned away, it is soon decided that Mowgli is no longer safe with the wolves and Mowgli’s panther guardian Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley) must return the boy to his rightful people.


First of all, big round of applause for young Sethi, who was outstanding as Mowgli. Considering that he’s probably the only prominent flesh-and-blood actor on set, the credibility of this film kind of weighed on his performance and he nails it in spades. This kid perfectly transitions into every emotion that is brought his way. Sadness when he has to leave his family, anger when there’s revelations, fear when faced with a giant monkey, even sarcastic when he’s confused. This is a kid that’s gonna go places and hope he has a great career ahead of him.

If you haven’t guessed it already, the casting choices are near perfect. Elba’s voice really makes Shere Khan scary. He’s got this cold, calculating patience that sends a chill down your spine. Not only that, but I don’t recall the animated Shere Khan having motivation to kill Mowgli, other than, “I’m suave and cool, and I like to eat man.” In this film, it’s because man injured his face and possibly blind through an eye. He does have a personal vendetta that is a little more relatable other than a glorified bully. Yeah, I do think this Shere Khan is a tad more developed than the ’67 version. Or maybe it’s just Elba’s awesome that adds a little more legitimacy to the character. Either way, damn fun.

Bagheera is definitely the cliche Yoda character that we’ve seen a thousand times, but again, Kingsley just makes him seem so cool. He is about the only grounded character that wants the best for Mowgli and is genuinely concerned with his safety. Also, a Begheera and Shere Khan fight is a thousand kinds of awesome. Those fights get brutal as hell.




Speaking of brutal, this film gets dark. Like… jeez, man. I never read the Rudyard Kipling’s book, so I have no idea what elements in this movie mirror the book, but seeing Shere Khan, you know, actually kill someone was scary. No joke, he savagely attacks Akela and hurls the wolf’s dead body over the ledge of a cliff. Hell, he practically threatens one of the pups of Raksha, played by Lupita Nyong’o. When at any point did that happen in the original animated movie?!




Now I’m going to shift away from the characters and close off the great aspects of this film by talking about the story itself. This is definitely a bigger story than the animated movie. There’s definitely a Lord of the Rings kind of odyssey about it, traveling from one location to another. Not saying that didn’t happen in the original, but it’s a lot more prominent and noticeable in this one.

This also left room for some very cool cinematography. Like when Mowgli first meets Kaa up in the trees, there’s some dark and eerie medium shots. Mowgli is so small in these shots and if you’re not looking for the unnaturally long body of the snake, it blends pretty well into the background. Either way, it’s a pretty unsettling scene. Don’t even get me started on the epicness of the climactic ending fight scene. Lets just say that fire makes everything awesome.

I guess I just managed to squeeze in talking about cinematography. That’s how good this, people! My brain, which is not calibrated to say anything about cinematography, is saying something about the cinematography!

And there’s one of the most standout scenes of the movie. The decision is being made as to what the pack should do with Mowgli. He volunteers to leave and he has to say goodbye to Raksha. This is so heartbreaking to watch. Once again, Sethi drives it home. I got choked up. Sethi looked like he was in genuine emotional pain, being forced to say goodbye to the only family he’s known.

Well, for all the praise I give the film, there are a few missteps.

First of all, Scarlett Johansson. No no, I’m not going to bash her voice acting, she’s fine as Kaa. But why is she stapled so prominently across all of the promos? She’s a glorified cameo. Yeah, she’s only in it for, like, ten minutes! I may not remember Kaa’s role in the original, but I do remember that first encounter with Mowgli and then another scene with Shere Khan. Not in this one. Kaa basically just randomly reveals Mowgli’s past and his connection to Shere Khan. It’s a forced scene and ultimately pointless. Well shot, but it’s just an excuse to have the character.

Baloo is also pretty hit and miss with me. Again, Murray is fine, and does provide some solid humor, but his relationship with Mowgli doesn’t feel very natural. Even forced. Baloo got him to knock down honeycomb and got stung all over. Mowgli is way too forgiving of this, putting him in a great deal of danger, and manages to convince the boy to abandon his protection from going to the man-village. I also love how when Baloo is told that Mowgli is hunted by a tiger, somehow it doesn’t register that it’d be Shere Khan. I mean, it’s not like there’s any other tigers roaming around in the jungle. And as soon as it’s revealed to be Shere Khan, he shows a lot more concern for Mowgli’s predicament. Again, a tiger is a tiger. You’d think Shere Khan or no, messing with a tiger with a vendetta would be pretty high up there on the list of “things not to do.” Baloo knows better than to mess with elephants, but non-Shere Khan tigers? Pfft, buncha glorified pussy cats! See what I’m getting at?

I also think it’s pretty sloppily placed when King Louie starts singing “I Wanna Be Like You.” When Baloo was singing “Bear Necessities” with Mowgli while floating in the river, it made sense for the character because he was shown humming his tune. But this was literally just an excuse to have Walken sing. It… wasn’t even that well done a number, either. Not nearly as flashy and… honestly, I saw this movie just a couple nights ago and I don’t remember what happened. I remember how Mowgli got there, how he met King Louie, what he wanted, and everything after, but not the music number itself. All I could remember was that it was unnecessary.

Also, did anyone catch that he does actually call “the red flower” its proper name, fire? That’s a tad confused, isn’t it? Every other animal calls it “the red flower” but King Louie bounces between both names, mostly calling it the red flower. Why?

Finally, the ending.




This is up there with King Louie’s number. As it is, this next complaint happens right after Mowgli’s tussle with the giant monkey. So Mowgli just found out that Shere Khan killed Akela. In a fit of rage, he sneaks into the nearby man-village to grab a torch of fire. Basically, he carries that sucker all the way back to the beginning of the movie. Erm… how? First of all, how did Bagheera and Baloo not catch up to him? Raised by wolves or no, he’s not faster than a bear or a panther. Just no.

And how did he know how to get back home anyway? Never mind the whole, he’s not of the canine species, so he doesn’t have that instinct, but he ran for his life after his first attack from Shere Khan. He rode along the back of a buffalo. He fell asleep some of that journey on that same buffalo’s back. Then he got carried away by a mud slide and drifted away on a log. Once again, that kid was practically lost. You cannot convince me that he knew his way back home without the guidance of Bagheera. Seriously, a two minute “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Akela, I screwed up, let’s go burn us a kitty” scene, and would have fixed that right up. But no. Mowgli just beats Bagheera and Baloo back home and automatically knew the way. Good job there writers. Hope there’s a deleted scene for that problem in the Blu-ray.




As many problems as there were, especially toward the end, I really liked this movie for the most part. It’s an exciting adventure with some brutal moments, some great voice acting, visuals, and powerfully led by Sethi. I think if you’re a fan of the original ’67 animated movie, you’ll really like this one. I’ve only seen this movie once and would not mind seeing it again.

My honest rating: 4/5


It’s finally here. After three years of waiting for this movie, it’s finally here. And this is a pretty big deal. After decades of seeing Batman and Superman in their own respective franchises, we’ve never seen them share the same screen together outside of animated shows (JUSTICE LEAGUE rocks, by the way). As some of you may know, I loved MAN OF STEEL and its take on the the boy scout. While I would have preferred a second solo movie to continue building on Superman’s character, we ended up with a team-up of the century. And not even just them. Wonder Woman was slated to appear, pretty frequently too, and Flash and Aquaman were also slated for a cameo. This movie was pretty up in their as far as expectations were concerned, but I was personally pretty excited.

This is my honest opinion of: BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE


Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), was there at the time of the attack of the kryptonians. After his building was destroyed in the aftermath and people died, Bruce has made it his personal mission to take down Superman (Henry Cavill). In the present day, Clark is struggling with the constant controversy of his existence and trying to demean Batman’s name in Gotham. But little does anyone know that the nefarious Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) is hatching a scheme to create a weapon that will kill Superman. But tensions between the two heroes begin to rise, which may lead to great destruction.


With the heaviest of hearts, I have to be honest and say that this movie is not good. I was thoroughly disappointed.

My biggest issues revolve around the characters themselves.

Superman. I understand that MAN OF STEEL was intended to be a darker and grittier take on the character, which I didn’t have a problem with. I had no problems with him killing Zod, and how hard it was for him to understand the difference between right and wrong and it’s not so black and white. It was a welcomed update to the character, grounding him a bit more than many fans would be used to. But in this movie… he’s just not Superman. There’s a scene where he first encounters Batman, tears the doors off of his batmobile, gives him a warning and declares: “Batman is dead.” Um… what? Did Superman just threaten someone??? That’s… not Superman. He warns, and that’s it. He never threatens… unless it’s Lex Luthor, whom kind of deserves it. Why the hell does he even hate Batman anyway? This movie doesn’t explain why he’s constantly trying to bring him down. It just makes no sense. To top it all off, because of the sheer destruction that resulted in his fight with Zod in the first movie, I would have loved to see him try to help Metropolis rebuild. Wouldn’t that just mean more in the long run? I mean, he’s capable of so much chaos, why not show that Superman can rebuild what he’s destroyed? Sure, he’d still be scrutinized, but isn’t that the point of these new movies? The grey area of doing the right thing?

Batman. This is also a great series of eye-twitches from me. He kills people. Alright, nothing with his bare hands, but it’s the next closest thing: mini guns on the batwing! Ramming his black race car into buildings and other vehicles! HE CONSTRUCTS A SPEAR OUT OF KRYPTONITE!!! Batman doesn’t do this shit! He doesn’t have murder in mind, no matter who the enemy is. I mean, holy shit! What the hell happened in the drawing board??

Lex. Eisenberg… oh man, dude, you’re a great actor. This isn’t the worst performance you’ve ever done (you’ve never done a bad performance), but this  doesn’t fit with the tone of the rest of the story. Dare I say it? He’s more cartoony than the cartoon Lex. His high pitched, shaky voice is a little too reminiscent of every other mentally unhinged villain we’ve seen (Joker, anyone?). I can tell that Eisenberg is putting forth a ton of energy to the role, but it’s just not the best role. He’s too smarmy for me to take seriously. Similar to my problems with Kylo Ren from STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, I feel like I’d rather spank the little shit instead of stop him in the name of justice.

Lois. As much as I loved MAN OF STEEL, even I couldn’t deny that Adams is horrendously miscast as Lois. Not because she doesn’t have the acting chops for it, but that her acting is criminally shoved to wayside. Her character is basically SPIDERMAN’s Mary Jane 2.0. Seriously, what is her purpose in this movie other than to be Superman’s girlfriend and dame in distress? I wish I could perv out and admit how much I can appreciate Adams naked in a bathtub, but A) I’ve seen THE FIGHTER, what else you got? And B) if I was going into my comic book movies with titillation in mind, I would have stayed home to watch porn parodies of this shit.









The Lord of the Rings cave troll – er, I mean, Doomsday. No, seriously, convince me he doesn’t look like that cave troll. Even in his final form, he still doesn’t really look like he should. Just a left over from the Peter Jackson films. Completely unoriginal design that is incredibly distracting and I can’t take an enemy this seriously if I’m just waiting for Orlando Bloom to fire two arrows into his throat.









Honestly, that’s the most I want to say about my problems with the characters. It’s time to address the story.

We start off in the desert where Lois is kidnapped, trying to expose a terrorist who has a scary looking Russian dude at his command. Well, Russian dude decides to betray him employer and kills the terrorist’s men. Lois is about to be executed herself before Superman shows up and stops Lois from being killed… and somehow, some way, the deaths of these people that the Russian killed are… Superman’s fault? Um… they were killed by guns. Pretty sure Superman doesn’t use or need guns to kill a bitch. Were there no ballistics experts around or surviving witnesses to attest that Superman had nothing to do with the deaths of those folks?

And that’s another thing. That Russian dude was firing special bullets that we later find out that LexCorp created. Why? Is this special bullet somehow going to extra-kill a guy? Use untraceable rounds, or whatever they’re called. They’ve gotta be cheaper and easier to find, and far less likely to get yourself exposed by, say, AN UNINTERESTING NEWS REPORTER!!! Did anyone else get the feeling this plot-line was specifically tailored to Lois to make her “more useful” in the story? That’s pretty lazy and obvious writing and ultimately yields an unsatisfying, debatably rushed, conclusion to this side plot.









And now for the biggest blunder this movie could have done: kill off Superman. As many of you know, I’m not a comic book reader. I am, however, somewhat familiar with the mythos of these characters. For example, I am aware that Doomsday is famous for killing Superman. However, this movie thinks it can get away with that. You understand that the character was barely developed in this movie, right creators? He barely has an arch where he learns what it means to be a better hero. I defend MAN OF STEEL to this very day. I accepted that Metropolis was in ruins because of the fight because he’s new at this superhero thing and killing Zod meant he would learn from his choices and do better not only for the people he’s fighting to protect, but for himself as well. Since that arch never happened in this movie, it’s impossible to feel anything when he dies. This feels like a plot point you don’t bring out until way after JUSTICE LEAGUE. This is unbelievable how they think this is acceptable because we know he’s coming back to life somehow. Hello! JUSTICE LEAGUE!!! You can’t have JUSTICE LEAGUE without Superman! We can probably Google and figure out that he’s contracted for X-amount of future DC films! The shock of his death is that you even bothered with it because we know he’s not staying dead!









I think it’s time to say something about Snyder’s directing. I honestly think this movie is a wake-up call that he needs to step down from the director’s chair for JUSTICE LEAGUE. Why? While the man has had a body of work that I have ranged from liking to loving (no, SUCKER PUNCH was not a good movie, yes, I still liked it), this was my first big let-down and it shows that this wasn’t his forte.









In the final fight scene between the big three and Doomsday, Snyder’s directing is clearly a mismatch here. With so much going on, Superman and Wonder Woman charging and taking their shots at Doomsday, the action is a little hard to follow, which has never been an issue for Snyder in the past. Kind of a weird ball to drop. But in a setting like this, while Superman and Wonder Woman are wailing away at this monster, the audience is left wondering, “where the hell is Batman in all this?” Is he just sitting in a lawn chair sipping a mai tai until Doomsday eyes him, and that‘s when he’s breaking out the grappling hook and flying around? What’s Lois doing? Sitting on Batman’s lap doing the same thing? I actually don’t know who to blame for this. Snyder’s directing, or the editing. This is probably one of my bigger worries for JUSTICE LEAGUE because when we have been shown that when you throw four super people (and one Lois) in the same sequence, there’s holes in basic common sense of what the other characters are doing if they’re not shown to be incapacitated. What’s going to happen when you have six heroes, the chosen villain, and whoever else that will make an appearance in the fight and make it work? I can’t help but feel like George Miller would be able to capture that intensity and still make it work, which would be welcomed as he was slated many years back to make a JUSTICE LEAGUE movie of his own. His work on MAD MAX: FURY ROAD proves he can have a bunch of shit on camera at one time but keep it discernible, which Snyder bizarrely failed to do.









Now I know the question is being asked, “was there anything good about the movie?” For me, yeah, there were a few things. A few…

First of all, Wonder Woman herself was what made the movie for me, or at least the ending. Granted her character isn’t developed yet, but this wasn’t a Wonder Woman movie, so it’s forgivable. She’s tough, strong, bad-ass. You can tell she’s a warrior because every time she gets knocked down, she’s smirking at the challenge. She has the thrill of battle and that’s an element of her character that is making me incredibly excited to see the solo Wonder Woman film coming out in the future.

Also, the brief cameos of the future Leaguers, but by far my favorite of the cameos was Cyborg. That shit looked nuts, all half there and screaming and shit… fuck yeah.

And I have to admit that Alfred is pretty cool here. I wanted to say something negative about his character, but the more I thought about him, the more I started to like his role in the movie. He’s there in the action kind of like Bruce was in the animated TV show BATMAN BEYOND, watching the monitors and feeding him helpful hints. I stand by that there’s not too much of a personality out of him, but this isn’t a solo Batman film, so that’s where we’ll get that awesomeness. I forgive the lack of development for him.

I think the biggest issue with the movie is that this is the first time this pair has ever shared a movie before. This was a match-up that should have been epic and as hardcore as they come, but what we got was something… kinda bad. That should be an insult, but the best thing about the movie is the direction that the future of these movies will be taking. Maybe this movie wasn’t good, but I’m left curious to see where the franchise will go. But DC has got to learn from its mistakes, or JUSTICE LEAGUE may end before it even begins, and no one wants that. These scripts need to tighten up and wise up because any more movies like this and we’re in for a rough decade from DC. I have faith that we’ll see quality stories told in the future, but for now, I’m left with a sour taste in my mouth.

My honest rating for BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE: a weak 3/5