Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Review of Alien: Covenant

We’ve got movies baby!

TL; DR-good, with an asterisk.  81%

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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%

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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–

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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–

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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

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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 The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

Movie– The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies

TL;DR-What the heck is this crap? 67%

 

Basics- Remember the last chapter or two of that book you could read from cover to cover in six hours.  Here is three hours about those two chapters.  As you can tell, I’m not going to sugar coat this one.

 

Story– If you’re a big Tolkien person like my wife is, you won’t want to see this.  In the book, Bilbo’s awake for about an hour and then he’s completely knocked out.  This movie adds in all kinds of crap that wasn’t in the books.  That would be ok, but some of it is completely crazy like orc tacticians, giant worm monsters that never get mentioned again, and armies of troll enforcers.  This is just one long fight scene that is way too long and make war boring. 2/5

 

Acting– Let’s start with NO back story at all!  Just throw some people in, then have them run around a bit.  About half way through, you might catch some names, figure out some of the background plot, and finally understand who is who.  I know a ton of things happen, but if you don’t remember people from movies you saw two years ago, you’ll be pretty lost.  Heck, some of the heavy hitters for the Lord of the Rings movies only get a name drop once. 3/5

 

Cinematography– There is a crap ton of CGI in this one.  It looks really cool.  This is the one saving grace of the whole movie. 5/5

 

Summary– Save your money and read the book.  Honestly, this is a mess.  From key parts of the book being left out or altered for no good reason at all, to a fabrication of two hours of movie that had nothing to do with Tolkien, this will only piss you off if you’re a fan of the Lord of the Rings.  If you just want to watch people die for two hours, then this won’t be a bad one.  But that comes with the caveat that you have to watch the previous two movies.  This movie doesn’t give enough background to really fill you in on what the heck happened before.  Ok, there’s a dragon, now here are people in some ruins, now there’s elves, hay here come some more dwarves, and then there is orcs!  Unless you have a vested interest, this starts a little to en media rez for the casual viewer.  Honestly despite the number of explosions in this one, this is by far the low point of the series.  Save you money.  Eventually this will be on cable some Saturday afternoon when some TV filler time is needed and you can tape/DVR it then.  This is a sad conclusion to the LotR movies as a whole.  67%

Silver Screen Smackdown- Movie Review of Big Hero 6

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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%

 

Blurbs from the booth- Can we enjoy something for once?

Let’s talk about three things that just came out-

Jurassic World Trailer- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFinNxS5KN4

Star Wars 7- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMOVFvcNfvE

Terminator Genisys- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62E4FJTwSuc

 

So odds are you’ve all watched those trailers, and my question to you is:  Can we no longer feel joy?  The reaction I’ve seen to all three of these trailers is overwhelmingly negative.  Why?  Those trailers don’t look any different from any other trailer for an amazingly awesome movie.  What’s happened?   From debate over how a light saber looks to outright racist reactions about Stormtrooper skin color, everybody is unhappy with these movies.  We’ve got almost a year till some of these movies come out.  Now, if you don’t want an action movie, then you’re right to say I don’t want to see that movie.  But, honestly all three look great and are all aimed at our inner geeks.

If you want to get into debates about little things, let’s look at all the logic together.  Lightsabers are an amazingly stupid idea!  They would kill most people who picked them up.  Even the Jedi/Sith would most likely kill themselves than their targets.  Also, lightsabers can’t block projectiles.  Lasers weapons work fine against blocking lasers, but three drunken rednecks with shotguns can kill even the most skilled force user.  But, you know what? They look really cool.  It’s Christmas time.  And, if you’re giving gifts, when you finish with the roll of wrapping paper, guess what noise we all make while swinging the tube around?  Same goes with Jurassic World.  Looks great and will be a fun ride.  We’ve got Pratt riding shotgun with some velociraptors and some new genetically modified dino thrown in the mix.  I’ve got a PhD in biochemistry.  If I wanted to start tearing down the movie, I could.  From dino’s mostly likely being covered in feathers to the fact the half life of DNA in amber is two million years, Jurassic Park could not happen.  But, that movie hits me right in the inner 12 year old.  Sometimes, you just have to let that child out and enjoy the ride.

I see this a lot in the geek community.  DnD 4e come out and most people didn’t even want to try to play it.  Now if you played it and didn’t like it, then you get to have an honest opinion.  DnD 5e comes out, and those same people who hated DnD4e sight unseen now hate this new product.  But, if you haven’t even seen the end product, or even read a summary of the product, why are you making opinions on things?  That’s like deciding you hate a style of music without even hearing a 30 second snippet of a song.  If the movies come out and they do suck, then I don’t have a problem with honest criticism.  But, let’s criticize the thing when it’s here.  Right now, we have 88 seconds of a two hour movie.

So my question is: can we feel joy anymore?  Can geeks see something new and not just jump on the hate bandwagon?  Do we have a compulsive need to hate so much you want to be the hate hipster who’s driving the bandwagon?  I’m sorry you can’t have that joy again of being young again with life being much simpler, but try to see the joy that exists in the world.  New things don’t have to suck, and you don’t have to hope the suck either!  Can we all just try to feel some joy?

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: http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.ASP

 

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%