Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Review of Alien: Covenant

We’ve got movies baby!

TL; DR-good, with an asterisk.  81%


Basics-You know this drill-spaceship, people mean monsters, aliens come out of people, more people die, some mystery robot, people die.  This time is a group of colonists in the 2100’s who check out the mysterious signal, are attacked by different monsters, and then escape.

Story–This is the low point, but I can’t hate what’s here.  Overall the story is a C.  Its compelling, but has some choices happen that just shouldn’t and parts of the movies own logic just stopped happening.  Find an alien plant?  No helmets and touch everything!  Some dude just shows up out of nowhere and is creepy as hell?  He’s our new best bud-ALL THE TRUST!  Facehuggers need less than 20 seconds to do their job now!  Aliens mature in about the same amount of time!  But, I followed what the laid out, saw the turns coming, but enjoyed the ride.  It’s a rollercoaster, but maybe one I’ve either ridden too many times.  You’ll enjoy what you see, but don’t think too much or your enjoyment will not survive the experience.  3.25/5

Acting–  The people in this act well, but not perfectly.  Overall all the characters are believable.  There are a few moments where people do things like the new captain being mad people are mourning the death of some people early on due to some solar weather (not a spoiler, it’s two minutes into the movie), the seem to just be there to make him seem like a dick.  The humans act smart enough but they fail some of the basic logic checks like let’s touch all the strange stuff without gloves or abandon our friends in a room to die!  The heroes at least pass the smart test, so you feel they are moving in the right direction.  3.5/5

Cinematography–Film looks amazing.  I like all the stuff they have to show with stunning visuals.  The creatures look amazing, and even though you know jump scares are coming, you still jump.  The creatures are mostly CGI, but it’s hard to tell, so I’ll take it.  4.5/5

Sound-This movie sounds amazing.  The aliens sounds like they should.  All the standard sounds come back in the right ways.  The ships sounds like you’d think ships should.  The environments sound right.  Everything felt and sounded like it should. 5/5

Summary–I want to like this more, but I also kind of want to hate this more too.  These movies explain the origins of the xenomorph.  That’s not a surprise, but this is one of the reasons I really, really want to despise this movie.  The logic of where the alien came from kind of falls apart.  If they xenomorph is from around 2100, then how does predator, AvP, and anything else work?  If preditors hunted aliens for centuries before the Aztec empire, how do they come from the future?  What I’m seeing with this movie is what happened to the Star Wars fandom.  The fans kept the idea going with comics, books, and games, but when popular culture comes back to it, those comics, books, and games are all abandoned.  I don’t like the feeling I have of being abandoned by the people who make the stuff I like.  But, I also want to like this more as now I’m getting more Alien movies!  The movies is a strong OK.  I get some great visuals and sound, ok acting, and a story that kind of works.  But the ultimate question is this-When the next sequel comes out, will I go?  And the answer based on this movies is a yes.  Here are my predictions: this movie was fan service in strange way.  It answered plot holes from the original.  Now, the next movie will fix plot holes in this one, while making fun new ones!  It kind of feels like an expansion pack to a computer game that hot fixes issues the fans found.  But, I’ll still go see it.  It’s the next Alien movie!  81%

Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Reviews of Jurassic World, Inside Out, Terminator: Genisys

Know what we haven’t done in a while?  Some movie reviews.  let’s correct that.

Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Review of Jurassic World–


TL; DR-A good sequel to the original. 93%

Basics-It’s Jurassic Park but it works now!  Until it doesn’t!  Now a new dinosaur is loose and it’s up to Chris Pratt to stop it!

Story–Jurassic Park is an awesome cinematic experience, but as a story, it’s not top notch.  Sure it’s not bad, but this movie has tons of plot holes.  No spoilers, but you will scratch your head watching!  But is a summer blockbuster with dinosaurs!  I shut up the stupid adult Dr. Kabara with candy and let 8 year old Alan watch as T-Rex battled new iRex! 4/5

Acting–You know who’s awesome-Chris Pratt.  Take a comedian, make him buff, then give him the best lines in the movie.  He does great in his role.  The others are fine as well.  There are two kids I want to smack, but they end up becoming likeable.  Even the female lead Bryce Dallas Howard becomes likeable.  4.5/5

Cinematography–There is just enough CGI and just enough real world stuff to keep me second guessing everything.  I was never put off by some uncanny valley.  Nor, did I ever think things were not real.  It all looks beautiful. 5/5

Summary–This is a great addition to the franchise.  It might not be Jurassic Park level, but if it’s not, its the second best in the series. Chris Pratt does well. The dinosaurs are fun.  And the plot….well there plot is there.  The movie could be defeated by man gates.  Those are gates we use on dairy farms to keep cattle in a place where allow farmers to quickly get out of a place.  About two of those could easily stop all the problems of this movie.  But setting aside some obvious plot holes, the movie is a great summer movie that is fun for the little boy in us all. 93%

Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Review of Inside Out–


TL; DR-Herman’s Head for children written by Pixar. 100%

Basics-Riley is moving to a new town, dealing with new emotions, and discovering that life isn’t the simple.  Insider her head, her emotions all work together to drive her.  Each of the five emotions drive her via a console like the Starship Enterprise.  But, when Happiness and Sadness break the console and are lost in the bowels of her memory, Riley is now adrift without her emotions to guide her.  Will she be able to cope with all the changes in her world, or will she do something drastic.

Story–This is Pixar.  Even their junk sequel are decent.  This one is a story about growing up, dealing with your emotions and feelings, and learning that the world isn’t just one dimensional.  It well told, thought provoking, and honestly an amazing experience. 5/5

Acting–I am a screamy guy.  Lewis Black is my spirit animal.  He plays the role is was designed to play-RAGE.  He’s my favorite, but he only gets second string screen time.  The main emotions are Sadness and Happiness.  Those two and all the other characters of Riley’s head are all extremely believable.  No one feels out of place. 5/5

Cinematography–It’s Pixar.  They do this movie thing well. 5/5

Summary–This movie is Herman’s Head for children.  It’s got fewer adult themes, better writing, and computer animation, but it’s Herman’s Head.  I love the movie.  The story is top notch.  The actors make the CGI come to life.  And the thing is beautiful.  This is a movie to watch with your tween to help him or her understand life a bit more.  Life is sad and happy at the same time.  New emotions and key part of our soul are being forged every day.  And this movie finally explains why you get that stupid jingle stuck in in your head as well! 100%

Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Review of Terminator: Genisys


TL; DR-Explosions, Dr. Who, and a new timey whimey time line. 83%

Basics-John Conor is about to win the war against the Machines.  But, in his moment of sending the man to save his mother back, he’s attacked.  Now the past is changed, new terminators are on the loose, and nothing is as it seems

Story–Let’s be honest here, you don’t go to Terminator movies to see Shakespeare.  You go to see robots explode. This one does have robots explode.  It’s got enough future stuff to keep you thinking.  It’s got some ham fisted commentary on people looking at their cell phones too much.  It’s got Arnold beating up younger Arnold.  It’s got enough to keep you entertained for one and a half hours and in a coherent way.  Some reviewers tend to get lost in all the time line mumbo jumbo, but honestly I followed it easily.  Going into, this is a soft reboot of the franchise.  All the movies NO LONGER COUNT! 4/5

Acting–Again, let’s be honest here, you didn’t come for some Oscar performances.  The characters are OK.  Honestly the best character in the whole film is Arnold as the terminator.  He does a good job being a pretend robot trying to fit into human society.  The other three main characters are…ok. Matt Smith is in there as well, but he’s got almost a glorified cameo.  He does well, but he doesn’t get enough time to really even build out his character.  It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s also not distracting from the story. ⅘

Cinematography–BOOM!  EXPLOSION!  That’s what you’re here for!  And you get your money’s worth for explosions.  Everything looks believable even though it’s all green screened to hell.  A fun ride with stuff exploding. 4.5/5

Summary–This is a quintessential summer brainless action movie.  The movies set up for a sequel now, which since this made lots of money it will get.  It’s got lots of action, an ok plot, and decent acting.  We won’t get our children to watch this one like we will the original Terminator, so this won’t stand the test of time.  But, for a summer movie, this is a better than average offering. This is also a soft reboot to the franchise, so take all the other movies you know and love, and throw those away, because now they NEVER HAPPENED! 83%

Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Review of Mad Max: Fury Road

Movie–  Mad Max: Fury Road

TL; DR-Well that was a thing I saw… 77%

Basics- Mad Max is back!  He’s taken captive, used as a walking blood bag, and tied to the hood of a car.  Now a general for a mad man has escaped with the general’s most prized possession.  Mad Max, the general, and a supporting cast of crazy survivors all try to survive and find the green place in this action movie.


Story– NOPE, NOPE NOPE.  You want some cars to explode?  Go see this movie.  You want some amazing, live-action action shots?  Go see this movie!  You want a plot?  NOPE NOPE NOPE,  There are just tons of scenes that just don’t make sense in this thing.  Only Max tends to make smart choices, and at the end, even he just makes an amazingly stupid choice.  Story is just not what you came here for. 2.5/5

Acting– The actors are not that bad in this.  They act like crazy psychopaths from the desert; mad max is the consummate survivor, and abused and battered women.  Everybody does their part relatively well.  It’s not going to win an Oscar for acting, but it’s decent enough. 4/5

Cinematography– Remember when Peter Jackson did all those amazing forced perspective shots and action shots in the Lord of the Rings instead of doing the CGI crap from The Hobbit?  Do that but instead tie people to the hood of a moving car and go 90 MPH.  If you want to see some impressive, actually stunt man stunts, this is hands down the best movie of the year for that. 5/5

Summary–This is a good C grade movie.  It gets close to great, but parts of this thing just fail so badly!  The action is amazing and the people doing the action were all believable.  But, the plot is just horrible!  Every character made a decision that was just jarringly stupid!  Fix the plot, keep the same action scenes, and this would be a great movie. 77%

Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Review of Big Hero 6


Movie– Big Hero 6

TL;DR-A nice movie about family and belief 93 %


Basics- Hiro, our hero of the film, is the orphaned robot design prodigy.  His older brother sees him wasting his design potential away with underground robot fighting and convinces him to compete for a scholarship to a robot design university.  He wins, but fire at the competition clams Hiro’s brother’s life.  Hiro finds that his award winning robots were stolen in the fire, and now Hiro must team up with his lost brother’s last robot project to defeat the evil villain who stole his project and his brother’s life.


Story– This is a kid’s movie, and therefore a bit too short.  But that’s a good feeling!  I’d rather be left wanting more than being bored.  This movie doesn’t pull any punches though for a kids movie.  Lots of different themes are discussed, and the villain when he/she shows up is well conceived, not over the top, and somewhat sympathetic.  It’s a sleeper hit just like Meet the Robinsons.   4.5/5


(voice) Acting– The dialog is well done here.  There is even a Wayans brother in this one, and it’s well done!  All the characters feel real. 5/5


Cinematography– It’s a cartoon world, but it still does look well done. Everything is the right amount of cartoony while still looking semi-realistic.  I like what I see in this one. 4.5/5


Summary– This is a fun little movie.  It’s over way too quick, but the stories and characters in this one are a blast.  Honestly, this movie and Meet the Robinsons seem to be on par with one another.  Both are animated sleeper hits.  Great fun, but overshadowed by some other movies that recently came out.  93%


Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Review of Dark Dungeons

Movie– Dark Dungeons

TL;DR– Is and isn’t a parody 90%

Basics-Its the classic Chick Track brought to life.  Don’t know what I’m talking about?  Read it here:


DISCLAIMER!!!-I am a Roman Catholic who avidly plays several RPGs as well as several board games.  I attend church nearly weekly and married a pagan woman.  I am a ball of religious contradictions.


Story– For as bad as the Chick Track is, this movie turns out well.  The movie is FULL of hidden little RPG gems and call backs to other RPG movies.  That makes it awesome.  The movie also plays the plot completely straight-NO CHEAP SHOTS ARE TAKEN AT THE RELIGION.  If you, like me, saw all kinds of boarder line creepy movies full of strange logic applied to why we shouldn’t read book x or do thing y, then this movie will completely remind you of your childhood religious education films a little too much.  The movie is equally as welcome at a RPG convention as it would be in an extremely religious church afterschool program.  It’s not perfect as a few things do detract from its completely walking the line between both its tasks and a few things are added that obviously pan to the modern gamer audience, but overall it’s a damn fine story. 4.5/5


Acting– This was done pretty well.  It’s full of all kinds of faces that are pretty famous in the RPG film community.  The same people who did an excellent job making The Gamers as well as a ton of different Youtube series all do a great job on this project.  Also, this movie adds a bunch of people I’ve never seen before who do excellent jobs in their parts.  But, it’s not perfect, but it’s acted well. 4.5/5


Cinematography– This movie was made for less than $30K, but it doesn’t show that often.  It uses the same sets several times, but it’s fresh enough to keep you engaged.  There is a strange scene in the steam tunnels that somewhat cheap, but overall the movie is well done and looks great. 4.5/5


Summary– This is Reefer Madness for the modern RPG audience.  I could honestly see this back to back at a convention with Mazes and Monsters as a double feature.  Dark Dungeons is only 40 minutes long, but that time fits the plot well.  The original comic is something you can read in less than five minutes, so this movie doesn’t over stay its welcome.  I does deviate from the plot a few times by adding Cthulhu in with just to panders to the crowd, but overall this is a short, well done movie that works on an amazing number of levels.  If taken straight, it’s a cautionary tale of how RPGs ruin lives and drive you away from God.  If taken as the comedy it is, it’s a look at how some crazy, fringe groups view a hobby they completely don’t understand. 90%

Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Review of Guardians of the Galaxy

Movie– Guardians of the Galaxy



Basics– Meet Quill, our not Han Solo hero, as he steals some random item from a dead world.  He is now on the run from Thanos, his former allies, and bounty hunters.  Along the way he will team up with a walking tree, a talking/shooting raccoon, an assassin, and a berserker as they save the galaxy while causing untold property damage.


Story– This story rocks!  The world of the movie is full of crazy characters, fun places, and untold destruction.  So many things are given a quick introduction, but all the pieces got just enough intro to keep you interested but not be boring.  It’s a wild ride that moves at such a fast pace that its over two hour run time just flies by. However, the pace is so well done that I didn’t have the rushed feeling I got from the Harry Potter films. 5/5


Acting-Everybody hits this out of the park.  Every person does an amazing job bringing all the crazy characters to life.  Some actors only have a voice to make you feel that a character is real, but they pull that off with amazing results.  Everybody shines in this one.  I AM GROOT 5/5


Cinematography– No surprise here as this film is an amazing piece of art.  The CGI is top notch while the real shots are no less amazing. 5/5


Summary– I have two favorite movies this summer-Snowpiercer and Guardians of the Galaxy.  These both hit great spots in my soul for different reasons.  If you want a fun movie that isn’t stupid with amazing dialog and great acting then Guardians of the Galaxy is the movie for you.  If you want a movie that will keep you thinking and wondering with amazing dialog and great acting then choose Snowpiercer.  Guardians of the Galaxy might not be the high brow cinema that will make you question the human conditions, but man, it is a fun time, wild ride, and an all around great movie! 100%

Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Review of Snowpiercer

Movie– Snowpiercer



Basics-We’ve fixed global warming by freezing the world solid!  In Snowpiercer, almost no humans remain after a plot to fix global warming results in freezing the world to death, and those that do survive on a train.  The train is divided into two sections: those in the head, and those in the tail.  Those in the tail are second class citizens who must scratch out an existence in a hard life while those in the front live in the lap of luxury.  Our hero Curtis is starting a revolution to bring equality to the train.  What follows is a series of fights, a dive into Dante’s Inferno among other ideas, and much more than he or you the audience bargained for.


Acting-This acting in this movie is amazing.  Every character has different motivations, and every actor brings those to light.  No one acts like they don’t belong in the world.  I loved everyone from minor character to main actors.  Even the villains are well done making them the rare villains you just love to hate. 5/5


Plot- I love this movie.  The plot is well done.  While the idea of world spanning train or a CO2 fixing plot are somewhat farfetched, the plot rolls with that well and bring you along for the ride.  Nothing in here is stupid or only smart for a sci-fi movie.  Everything makes sense.  And, the movie doesn’t let up either.  The hits just keep coming all along its run time.  New angles keep coming into play that just add to the feel of the world and the characters.  It’s an amazing story told really well.5/5


Cinematography-This movie was made on the cheap, but it doesn’t show.  The special effects are done well, and the cheap is hidden behind the train.  Everything looks beautiful.  The train looks crappy when it should look crappy.  The train looks beautiful when it should be beautiful.  Everything looks just like it should!  It’s near future sci-fi, so the world of the movie looks like it could be from today.  Amazingly well done. 100%


Summary-This is a story with so many levels that I almost want to watch this again right now.  There are elements of Dante’s Inferno, Frankenstein, Atlas Shrugged, and so many more ideas here that just keep you thinking.  Even the heroes in this one are not necessarily heroes as you come to learn.  It’s such an amazing, well acted story that I’m just glad I got to watch this.  GO SEE THIS RIGHT NOW! 100%

Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Review of Lucy

Movie– Lucy

TL;DR–  Good, but not for everyone-88%


Basics– Lucy is the story of a young women who is unwittingly drafted into a drug smuggling operation.  Drugs are hidden inside of her, but during an attempted rape, she is kicked so hard the drug bags rupture flooding her system with a mind expanding drug.  Now, the drug gives her the unprecedented ability to use more of her mind’s capacity than any human before.  What happens next is crazy!  There is a cartel after her as she travels the world to deliver all the knowledge she has gained to the one man who can use it.  Get ready for heavy philosophy in between car chases, gun battles, and torture.


Story– This one requires a bit of imagination.  Lucy is a fun ride, but has a few moments where you as the audience have to decide to not think.  For the high points, the movie is great, but for some minor sticking points, the story doesn’t make sense.  Not the 10% figure on brain use, that is better explained in the movie than the trailer, but some elements like the drug cartel actions and people attacking a lady who can change gravity make no sense.  It’s fun, it will make you think, but if you think a bit too hard some things will stop working on the level of movie disbelief.  If you can get past that, you will have an awesome time and begin to really think about some of the messages in the movie. 4/5


Acting– For the most, part the acting is done well too.  Scarlett Johansson does a great job playing several different roles as she basically loses her humanity to become something else.  Some things are a bit off like why would drug smugglers act the way they do, but it’s only some minor problems.  Scarlett is the focus.  And, the movie stays with her, and that’s how it should be. 4.5/5


Cinematography– This movie uses lots of quick scenes to flash ideas into the audience’s minds.  It works well.  The special effects are done pretty well.  A few things like Lucy at the end seemed a bit simple for modern CGI, but that’s more me being nitpicky than it looking like something from the SCYFY channel’s midnight movie release.  Also, get ready for lots of deific imagery.  I don’t hate it, but it’s here! 4.75/5


Summary– I really “liked” this one.  It’s billed as one kind of movie (ass kicking not Black Widow with more brains then NASA), but it’s really quite another movie (what is man’s role in the universe).  The movie is not bad, but my enjoyment of this movie didn’t come from the destruction.  Yes, people get shot up.  Yes, car chases.  But, the movie is really about how important knowledge is.  I’ve heard others say it’s the most pro-science thing since Cosmos ended, and I kind of felt that way.  This is good, classic sci-fi.  It’s got guns et al for the low-brow fun, but it’s also got some really heavy things to think about after.  This is a great movie to take any geek to and have fun conversations after discussing what it all meant, but it’s a bad movie to go see because you just want an explosion-a-thon. 88%

Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Review of Transformers 4: Age of Extinction

Movie- Transformers 4: Age of Extinction

TL;DR- BOOM! 73%


Basics- The transformers are back.  The Autobots are in hiding as the US government and CIA are now hunting down all transformers.  Alongside the government, the US and CIA are working with a transformer bounty hunter who is hunting Optimus Prime.  Can the Autobots save the day and Optimus?


Plot- A major complaint against the last few Transformer movies was that there was no plot.  Well this movie made up for all of that in one fell swoop!  This movie has WAY too many plots.  The movie itself stretches for over two hours.  And, the plots of those two plus hours are kind of convoluted and all over the place to boot.  The story itself isn’t that great.  There are a lot of problems here. 2/5


Acting-The acting in this one isn’t bad.  The characters are pretty consistent and somewhat believable.  Optimus has some major character swing, but the movie is mostly about his growth as a character.  The humans are there, but I didn’t go to a movie about giant robots fighting to care about humans. 4/5


Cinematography-The movie looks awesome.  This is a quintessential popcorn movie.  This movie is filled with lots of well executed violence and destruction that makes for an entertaining half of the running time.  When stuff is blowing up you will be entertained.  When characters are talking, it’s pretty boring, but at least it will look nice. 5/5


Summary-This is a popcorn movie. If you want to watch some crap blow up, it’s worth your time.  The movie is kind of a plot mess, but Bay knows how to blow some crap up! If you love transformers, then you will love this.  If you like good movies, then not so much. 73%

Silver Screen Smackdown-Movie review-How to Train Your Dragon 2

Movie– How to Train Your Dragon 2

TL; DR– A little rushed, but an awesome movie! 90%

Summary– What happens after the hero wins? How to Train your Dragon 2 picks up with our hero Hiccup now that his town is safe, his people live with dragons, and his dad wants to retire.  Hiccup is being offered the role of chief by his father, but he doesn’t want to lead.  So, he now explores the world trying to find other dragons and land.  As he travels, he finds that others are trapping dragons, and someone is out there protecting the dragons.  Who is this someone and can Hiccup stop the dragon trappers?


Story- Just like the first, this story is amazing.   The world gets a decent yet quick introduction, and moves off from there.  My only complaint is this movie doesn’t give enough background to the characters. We are almost assumed to know who they are.  Also, this story will go MUCH further and faster than you think it has a right to!  It’s well done, but a little rushed to get the story in in the run time. 4/5


Actors– All the actors knock this one out of the park.  I wish some of the secondary actors would get a bit more screen time as they don’t get the time they deserve to shine.  Even the new actors do amazing jobs and feel like they belong in the world.   I just wish I saw some more of the second string get to play a bit more. 4.5/5


Cinematography– DreamWorks- you did an amazing job making this look at once beautiful, terrifying, and funny.  Monsters that can kill a man look scary one moment and friendly the next.  The fake dragons have as much personality as the people just through expressions alone. The movie has a consistent style that is phenomenal. 5/5


Summary– Let’s not split hairs here-This move isn’t as good as the original.  That is true, but this movie is still a great movie.  Well worth the price of admissions, and I honestly now want there to be a third movie.  I don’t often feel that way anymore about movies, but I want more from this world.  Next time, just give me a few moments to catch my breath and a few more moments with the minor characters! 90%