What is a “Good” Movie? – My Quest to Find The Best Review Rating System

“What makes a movie good?”

If you ask 10 people that question you may get 10 different answers. Why is that? I think many times it has less to do with the movie than it does with the person viewing it.

We come from all walks of life, with different experiences, and have various tastes and interests. This is true of not just movie goers, but those who create the movies we love (or hate) as well. All of those things come into play with the movie experience.

While there are universally accepted rules, cinema in and of itself is an art form. Similar to a painting or a piece of music; movies are subjective, meaning different things to different people. It’s part of the reason I love movies so much. Two people can sit beside each other watching a movie and have completely different take-aways.

This subjectivity makes for great discussion, but it also makes it difficult to decide whether a movie is worth your time. Honestly, I’ve struggled with this in my movie reviews so far. At first, I did not want to give any type of numeric score, and now I’ve switched it up and decided some type of ranking system is inevitably necessary.

The problem is that giving one numeric score doesn’t comprehensively say everything you need to know about a particular movie. Sometimes, a movie may be horribly made, however it’s still enjoyable to watch. A recent example for me is xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. This movie, on a technical level, is hilariously terrible. However, it is so over the top and absurd that I had a blast watching it. I can’t bring myself just to give it a 3 out of 10 and move on. However, I also don’t think it deserves a high score just because it was fun. There needs to be more of a breakdown.

xXx Movie Vin Diesel & Deepika Padukone Stills
Vin Diesel and Deepika Padukone have a weird way of flirting in xXx: Return of Xander Cage.

So here is what I’ve come up with for my movie reviews going forward…at least until I change my mind again!

Feel free to give me your input: what are the deciding factors for you as to whether a movie is “good” or not??


Cinematic Quality – score range: 1-10

Is this a well made movie from a technical standpoint? story, acting, cinematography, music, visuals, etc.

Fun Factor – score range: 1-10

Despite whatever the quality of the movie is, how much fun will you have watching?

Worth the price of admission? – score range: 1-10

Plain and simple; is it worth it to pay good money to see in the theater, wait until it hits second run theaters or just Rebox it?

Re-watch Value– score range: 1-10

Some movies can be watched more than once, while others you wish you could get that time back.

Overall Score – The average of all of the above categories

Red Sparrow Review

Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeremy Irons

Rated R / Runtime: 2hrs and 20mins

Watch the trailer


Many people have been calling Red Sparrow essentially the more adult version of the Marvel comic character Black Widow. However, while there are some similarities, this movie is most definitely its own thing.

Jennifer Lawrence plays a talented Russian ballerina named Dominika Egorova who takes care of her sick mother. However, Dominika’s career is quickly cut short by an injury, and is desperate to find an alternative means to continue to afford her mother’s care.

Dominika’s uncle Ivan, a high-ranking official in Russian Intelligence (Matthias Schoenaerts) approaches her with what has to be the most bizarre offer of assistance from a family member ever. If she will agree to seduce an enemy of the state and switch his phone out for a government provided duplicate, Ivan promises to ensure the medical care for her mom will continue.

She reluctantly agrees, however the State’s real plans are revealed when during the encounter the man is brutally murdered while forcing himself onto Dominika. To eliminate any witnesses, she is soon given a choice by her uncle: death or agree to become a Sparrow. Great family.

Sparrows are government spies that agree, or more often forced, to commit their entire bodies to the State. Their main assignments are usually not to assassinate targets, but rather seduce and sleep with them in order to extract information.

They are trained in multiple areas of espionage including psychological manipulation, infiltration, and weapons training. Her first assignment is an America CIA agent (Joel Edgerton) who knows the identity of a mole in the Russian government.

First and foremost, this movie has a very hard R rating. Not only are there numerous scenes of graphic nudity, but there are some brutally violent scenes; both physically and emotionally. Many critics are even condemning this movie for the light in which Lawrence’s character and others are portrayed.

That being said, while many parts of the movie are graphic and even shocking, it feels like an accurate depiction of what the life of a “Sparrow” would be like. Movies give us the incredible ability to see and examine life from different points of view, even if those viewpoints are sometimes disturbing. The film definitely fails to have any message or deeper meaning, but it doesn’t glorify the lifestyle either. It merely puts it on display and viewers are able to think what they want.

In a bizarre way it was humourous that despite all the brutality of the film, the characters seem able to survive the most extreme of beatings. More than once Lawrence beat the shit out of someone and I was convinced, based on what I have seen in any other movie ever, ” yup, they’re dead.” Only in the next scene to discover; nope, they’re fine, only injured.

The story itself is a very slow burn and only has a few mins of action. Most of the 144 mins are focused on Lawrence interacting with other characters and us trying to figure out which side she’s really on. Honestly, the movie is about 30 mins too long and needs to be cut down. After the first hour and a half, you really start to feel how long many scenes seem to drag on.

There is a satisfying ending that gives a nice “ah-ha” moment. However, especially with the longer runtime, once you know the ending, there’s not enough depth to the story to warrant more than one viewing.

Whether or not you enjoy this movie, Jennifer Lawrence is hands down the best thing about it. Her Russian accent is on point, and she gives an incredibly complex performance which draws you into the character’s story.

This was a bold choice for her, and though it may not be the greatest movie, it is one of her best performances so far. As a side note, she’s worked with director Francis Lawrence (no relation) before; last time on the Hunger Games trilogy.

Everyone else gives the performances they need to for the movie, however nothing you’ll remember a day or two after watching the film.

Red Sparrow is a visceral adult spy thriller that is worth watching for J.Law’s stellar performance. However the shallow story combined with its long runtime and slow pacing make for a “one and done” viewing scenario.

See it in the theater if you’re a Jennifer Lawerence fan, otherwise I would wait for Redbox or Netflix.


Final score for Red Sparrow:

6 Soviet sex spies out of 10


Rampage Trailer 2 Reaction

I am 100% convinced that if the money is good, the Rock will take on literally any role. Rampage, which is based on the 80’s arcade game with the same name, is a perfect example. Most actors of his level of fame wouldn’t dare get anywhere near a role like this, as the chances of it doing well are slim. Johnson basically said “hold my beer, watch this…”

Rampage, released in 1986

It is true that Dwayne Johnson’s acting has drastically improved since his WWE days, and he’s had a decent track record lately with making magic happen with whatever movie he’s in (with the exception of Baywatch maybe).

I played Rampage quite a bit as a kid, so this definitely has some nostalgia factor that might also make it easier to overlook its inevitable flaws. In a time where most games had you play as a hero, Rampage gave you the choice between 3 monsters and then set you loose to destroy a city. For a movie based on this type of game, the story seems to make as much sense as it possibly could: science.

George.
Lizzie.
Ralph.

The bottom line is: this will not be a cinema masterpiece…not even close. What it does look like is a ridiculously entertaining popcorn flick that not only acknowledges it’s absurdity (“of course the wolf has wings”), but flaunts it while having a good time, that Dwayne Johnson is an expert at providing. He is the modern day action hero.

Rampage release on 4/20/18

2018 Oscar Nominations

The 2018 Oscar nominations were released today and The Shape of Water has the most nominations at 13. The other top nominations were Dunkirk at 8 and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri with 7.

There’s definitely a diverse number of genres represented by all the nominations. One of those, the superhero genre, is finally making the cut with Logan getting a nod for its screenplay.

Being hosted again by Jimmy Kimmel, the 2018 Academy Awards will air Sunday, March 4th at 8pm eastern / 5pm pacific.

Do you agree with the nominations? Feel like anyone got “snubbed?”

“And the nominees are…”

Performance by an actor in a leading role


  • Timothée Chalamet in “Call Me by Your Name” (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Daniel Day-Lewis in “Phantom Thread” (Focus Features)
  • Daniel Kaluuya in “Get Out” (Universal)
  • Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour” (Focus Features)
  • Denzel Washington in “Roman J. Israel, Esq.” (Sony Pictures Releasing

 

Performance by an actor in a supporting role


  • Willem Dafoe in “The Florida Project” (A24)
  • Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight)
  • Richard Jenkins in “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight)
  • Christopher Plummer in “All the Money in the World” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
  • Sam Rockwell in “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight

 

Performance by an actress in a leading role


  • Sally Hawkins in “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight)
  • Frances McDormand in “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight)
  • Margot Robbie in “I, Tonya” (Neon/30 West)
  • Saoirse Ronan in “Lady Bird” (A24)
  • Meryl Streep in “The Post” (20th Century Fox)

 

Performance by an actress in a supporting role


  • Mary J. Blige in “Mudbound” (Netflix)
  • Allison Janney in “I, Tonya” (Neon/30 West)
  • Lesley Manville in “Phantom Thread” (Focus Features)
  • Laurie Metcalf in “Lady Bird” (A24)
  • Octavia Spencer in “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight)

 

Best animated feature film of the year


  • “The Boss Baby” (20th Century Fox) Tom McGrath and Ramsey Naito
  • “The Breadwinner” (GKIDS) Nora Twomey and Anthony Leo
  • “Coco” (Walt Disney) Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson
  • “Ferdinand” (20th Century Fox) Carlos Saldanha
  • “Loving Vincent” (Good Deed Entertainment) Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman and Ivan Mactaggart

 

Achievement in cinematography


  • “Blade Runner 2049” (Warner Bros.) Roger A. Deakins
  • “Darkest Hour” (Focus Features) Bruno Delbonnel
  • “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.) Hoyte van Hoytema
  • “Mudbound” (Netflix) Rachel Morrison
  • “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight) Dan Laustsen

 

Achievement in costume design


  • “Beauty and the Beast” (Walt Disney) Jacqueline Durran
  • “Darkest Hour” (Focus Features) Jacqueline Durran
  • “Phantom Thread” (Focus Features) Mark Bridges
  • “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight) Luis Sequeira
  • “Victoria & Abdul” (Focus Features) Consolata Boyle

 

Achievement in directing


  • “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.) Christopher Nolan
  • “Get Out” (Universal) Jordan Peele
  • “Lady Bird” (A24) Greta Gerwig
  • “Phantom Thread” (Focus Features) Paul Thomas Anderson
  • “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight) Guillermo del Toro

 

Best documentary feature


  • “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” (PBS Distribution) A Mitten Media/Motto Pictures/Kartemquin Educational Films/WGBH/FRONTLINE Production
    Steve James, Mark Mitten and Julie Goldman
  • “Faces Places” (Cohen Media Group) A Ciné Tamaris Production
    Agnès Varda, JR and Rosalie Varda
  • “Icarus” (Netflix) A Netflix Documentary in association with Impact Partners, Diamond Docs, Chicago Media Project and Alex Production
    Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan
  • “Last Men in Aleppo” (Grasshopper Film) A Larm Film and Aleppo Media Center Production Feras Fayyad, Kareem Abeed and Søren Steen Jespersen
  • “Strong Island” (Netflix) A Yanceville Films and Louverture Films Production
    Yance Ford and Joslyn Barnes

 

Best documentary short subject


  • “Edith+Eddie” (Kartemquin Films) A Heart is Red/Kartemquin Films Production
    Laura Checkoway and Thomas Lee Wright
  • “Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405” A Stiefel & Co. Production Frank Stiefel
  • “Heroin(e)” (Netflix) A Netflix Original Documentary in association with The Center for Investigative Reporting/Requisite Media Production Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon
  • “Knife Skills” A TFL Films Production Thomas Lennon
  • “Traffic Stop” (HBO Documentary Films) A Q-Ball Production Kate Davis and David Heilbroner

 

Achievement in film editing


  • “Baby Driver” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos
  • “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.) Lee Smith
  • “I, Tonya” (Neon/30 West) Tatiana S. Riegel
  • “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight) Sidney Wolinsky
  • “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight) Jon Gregory

 

Best foreign language film of the year


  • “A Fantastic Woman” A Fabula Production Chile
  • “The Insult” A Douri Film Production Lebanon
  • “Loveless” A Non-Stop Production Russia
  • “On Body and Soul” An Inforg-M&M Film Production Hungary
  • “The Square” A Plattform Production Sweden

 

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling


  • “Darkest Hour” (Focus Features) Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick
  • “Victoria & Abdul” (Focus Features) Daniel Phillips and Lou Sheppard
  • “Wonder” (Lionsgate) Arjen Tuiten

 

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)


  • “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.) Hans Zimmer
  • “Phantom Thread” (Focus Features) Jonny Greenwood
  • “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight) Alexandre Desplat
  • “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Walt Disney) John Williams
  • “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight) Carter Burwell

 

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)


  • “Mighty River” from “Mudbound” (Netflix)
    Music and Lyric by Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson
  • “Mystery Of Love” from “Call Me by Your Name” (Sony Pictures Classics)
    Music and Lyric by Sufjan Stevens
  • “Remember Me” from “Coco” (Walt Disney)
    Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
  • “Stand Up For Something” from “Marshall” (Open Road Films)
    Music by Diane Warren Lyric by Lonnie R. Lynn and Diane Warren
  • “This Is Me” from “The Greatest Showman” (20th Century Fox)
    Music and Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

 

Best motion picture of the year


  • “Call Me by Your Name” (Sony Pictures Classics) A Frenesy Film/La Cinéfacture/Memento Films International/RT Features Production
    Peter Spears, Luca Guadagnino, Emilie Georges and Marco Morabito, Producers
  • “Darkest Hour” (Focus Features) A Working Title Films Production
    Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten and Douglas Urbanski, Producers
  • “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.) A Syncopy Pictures Production Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan, Producers
  • “Get Out” (Universal) A Blumhouse Productions/QC Entertainment/Monkeypaw Production
    Sean McKittrick, Jason Blum, Edward H. Hamm Jr. and Jordan Peele, Producers
  • “Lady Bird” (A24) A Mission Films Production
    Scott Rudin, Eli Bush and Evelyn O’Neill, Producers
  • “Phantom Thread” (Focus Features) An Annapurna Pictures Production
    JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison and Daniel Lupi, Producers
  • “The Post” (20th Century Fox) A 20th Century Fox/DreamWorks Pictures Production
    Amy Pascal, Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers
  • “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight) A Double Dare You Production
    Guillermo del Toro and J. Miles Dale, Producers
  • “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight) A Blueprint Pictures Production Graham Broadbent, Pete Czernin and Martin McDonagh, Producers

 

Achievement in production design


  • “Beauty and the Beast” (Walt Disney) Production Design: Set Decoration:
    Sarah Greenwood Katie Spencer
  • “Blade Runner 2049” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: Set Decoration:
    Dennis Gassner Alessandra Querzola
  • “Darkest Hour” (Focus Features) Production Design: Set Decoration:
    Sarah Greenwood Katie Spencer
  • “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: Set Decoration:
    Nathan Crowley Gary Fettis
  • “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight) Production Design: Set Decoration:
    Paul Denham Austerberry Shane Vieau and Jeff Melvin

 

Best animated short film


  • “Dear Basketball” (Verizon go90) A Glen Keane Production Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant
  • “Garden Party” A MOPA Production Victor Caire and Gabriel Grapperon
  • “Lou” (Walt Disney) A Pixar Animation Studios Production Dave Mullins and Dana Murray
  • “Negative Space” An Ikki Films Production Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata
  • “Revolting Rhymes” A Magic Light Pictures Production Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer

 

Best live action short film


  • “DeKalb Elementary” A UCLA Production Reed Van Dyk
  • “The Eleven O’Clock” A FINCH Production Derin Seale and Josh Lawson
  • “My Nephew Emmett” A New York University Production Kevin Wilson, Jr.
  • “The Silent Child” A Slick Films Production Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton
  • “Watu Wote/All of Us” A Hamburg Media School Production Katja Benrath and Tobias Rosen

 

Achievement in sound editing


  • “Baby Driver” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Julian Slater
  • “Blade Runner 2049” (Warner Bros.) Mark Mangini and Theo Green
  • “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.) Richard King and Alex Gibson
  • “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight) Nathan Robitaille and Nelson Ferreira
  • “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Walt Disney) Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce

 

Achievement in sound mixing


  • “Baby Driver” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin and Mary H. Ellis
  • “Blade Runner 2049” (Warner Bros.) Ron Bartlett, Doug Hemphill and Mac Ruth
  • “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.) Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker and Gary A. Rizzo
  • “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight) Christian Cooke, Brad Zoern and Glen Gauthier
  • “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Walt Disney) David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Stuart Wilson

 

Achievement in visual effects


  • “Blade Runner 2049” (Warner Bros.) John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover
  • “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (Walt Disney) Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner and Dan Sudick
  • “Kong: Skull Island” (Warner Bros.) Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza and Mike Meinardus
  • “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Walt Disney) Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould
  • “War for the Planet of the Apes” (20th Century Fox) Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon and Joel Whist

 

Adapted screenplay


  • “Call Me by Your Name” (Sony Pictures Classics) Screenplay by James Ivory
  • “The Disaster Artist” (A24) Screenplay by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
  • “Logan” (20th Century Fox) Screenplay by Scott Frank & James Mangold and Michael Green Story by James Mangold
  • “Molly’s Game” (STXfilms) Written for the screen by Aaron Sorkin
  • “Mudbound” (Netflix) Screenplay by Virgil Williams and Dee Rees

 

Original screenplay


  • “The Big Sick” (Amazon Studios) Written by Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani
  • “Get Out” (Universal) Written by Jordan Peele
  • “Lady Bird” (A24) Written by Greta Gerwig
  • “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight) Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor Story by Guillermo del Toro
  • “Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri” (Fox Searchlight) Written by Martin McDonagh

MoviePass: What is it? How Does it Work? and Should You Get It?

I absolutely love going to see movies in the theater…not hard to believe considering I was geeky enough to start this blog. However, it can be an extremely expensive hobby. Tickets range between $10-$14 a piece, depending on your location and type of showing, and then if you want snacks you’re not getting away without dropping another $10 per person. Two people can easily burn $50+ a trip if not careful. By the time you start thinking about taking your family of 4 or more, it begins to get astronomical.

A company called MoviePass intends to solve all that with a subscription service for movie theaters similar to the way Netflix works. While they have been virtually unknown for the last few years, they started gaining serious attention mid 2017. They are the first solid attempt at providing a solution to the high prices of a trip to the theater, and may even breathe new life back into the experience if they can accomplish everything they intend to.

In a nutshell, the service allows subscribers to see one 2-D movie per day, unlimited for $9.95 a month, using a membership card. Sound too good to be true, or maybe like some kind of scam? That’s what I thought at first, however after some extensive research and personally using MoviePass for the last couple months, I am convinced it is the real deal and more than worth the investment for movie lovers…at least for now.
How does it work?

Once you sign up for an account, your card is sent to you in the mail. It looks and acts as a debit/credit card, however, to use it, you have to download their free app and link it to the card. The app will list any theaters near your location that accept MoviePass. You simply choose the theater and the show time you want and then “check in” when you arrive at the theater. This will activate your card for 30 mins and allow you to “purchase” tickets as you would with a normal debit card. The transaction won’t go through without checking in on the app (As I found out the hard way on my first attempt at using it).

First you select a theater in the app.
Then check-in when you get to the theater.

MoviePass still pays full ticket price for each transaction, so theaters aren’t losing any money when you use the service.
Is the value of MoviePass worth the cost?

To answer that question, it’s going to depend on how often you personally want to go to the theater, as well as how much tickets cost near you. The more expensive the tickets, the less trips it will take to “break even.” It also helps to think of the cost over a 12 month period, instead of monthly, as some months there may not be any movies that interest you, while others there may be several.

In Richmond, Virginia, non matinée tickets are on average $11 a ticket now (more or less depending on which theater you go to). 12 months of Movie Pass will cost you $120 per person, which means you’ll need to see at least 1 movie a month on average or 11 movies in the course of a 12 month period just to break even. Any trips after that are gravy. Take a quick look at this list of upcoming movies for 2018. If you can’t pick out at bare minimum 12-15 movies that you’d want to go see in a theater, then MoviePass will probably not be a substantial value for you.

To give some real world perspective, my wife and I joined roughly 2 months ago and have already seen 5 movies using Movie Pass. The tickets on average were $11 a piece, so altogether we would have normally had to pay $110 to see those 5 movies. With MoviePass, it’s only cost us $40 (the monthly fee for 2 people for 2 months). We’ve already saved $70 and will most likely see at least one more movie before the end of the month, bringing our savings to around $90 after only two months of use.

In 2017, we saw roughly 25 movies at various theaters. This year, we’re already on track to see more, as we are not only using MoviePass to watch movies we would have seen anyway, but now we’re also more inclined to go to movies we would have otherwise waited to catch at a second run theater or even after hitting Redbox. You can do the math from there, but we will literally save hundreds of dollars and see more movies this year. It’s a no brainer for us. While all of that is wonderful, MoviePass it isn’t perfect…yet.

There are still some road blocks that need to be fixed and improved. Here’s an overview of both the benefits and current drawbacks:

Benefits

  • See one 2-D movie per day, every day for $10 a month per person.
  • Similar to Netflix, the plan is month-to-month with no contract, and can be canceled at any time.
  • You can see what theaters nesr you participate before joining. As of right now, most theater chains are. In Richmond, VA, Cinebistro is the only major theater in the area that doesn’t accept MoviePass yet. I was pleasantly surprised to see that even Byrd Theater, an excellent local, second run cinema in a historical theater house was on board.
  • You can still rack up reward points with any theater membership you have every time you visit the theater.
  • Some theaters offer the ability to buy tickets online: the app will show which ones support the feature.
  • The process is fairly secure. Even if you lose your card, it can’t be used unless they know your account login information.

Drawbacks

  • You can’t buy advance tickets with Movie Pass, only same day. You can however buy tickets earlier in the day for a showing later that same day.
  • While the option to buy tickets online is fantastic, only a few support that feature so far. (None do in the Richmond area at the time of this post).
  • As of right now the service only offers individual plans, so if you want to use it along with a spouse or family member, each person will have to open their own, separate account. Some type of “family plan” is definitely needed to make the process more user-friendly and accessible. That being said, with just two people, it isn’t a huge hassle.
  • As of right now, you cannot see 3-D or IMAX movies. I don’t see many movies in those formats anyway, but could be a frustration for some.
  • Customer Service could be improved. The app is fairly user-friendly. However, there is an option to chat with a representative for help or questions. I have only tried it once so far, but after 10 mins no one had responded to my question. I did find the answer in the FAQ, however the point of having the chat option should be to get assistance quickly, no matter where you are.

Is MoviePass sustainable?

While the service is an obvious value to the consumer, it is fair to ask how in the world the company plans on staying afloat long-term? Mitch Lowe, CEO of MoviePass was interviewed by Wired magazine back in August, where he laid out much of their strategy.

For the short-term, they appear to be banking on an approach that sounds similar to that of gym memberships, by hoping members don’t see enough movies to get the full value out of the cost. Part of this also includes focusing on driving more memberships in areas of the country where ticket prices are under $10. This means areas where it will take more trips to “break even.” While this may work for gyms, with movies there are too many people who will take advantage of the service and use it to its full potential. It’s hard to see how MoviePass wouldn’t lose massive amounts of money and eventually fold if this was the full extent of their business plan. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to be.

Lowe expanded by talking about a vision to grow the company using member’s movie viewing data. By bringing in the data company Helios and Matheson Analytics this past August, MoviePass will eventually make upgrades to their app that will help them have “total ownership of a night on the town.” They’ll seek partnerships with restaurants and other establishments to make their app a one-stop-shop for movie goers:

Helios’s mapping of the area around the theater, and all the different things you might encounter in that area, will allow us to do much more than we currently do. Here’s a great place to park, here’s a great restaurant across the street,” Lowe says. “You’re going to be able to pay for your concessions, pick your seats, and probably be able to pay for things at adjacent businesses and get one monthly bill.

Lowe also envisions a future where they have a direct hand in the success of films. Many times movies flop at the box office because consumers refuse to gamble movie tickets at $11-12 a pop and then snack prices on top of that to go see a movie they’re not sure they will enjoy. Now imagine there’s an army of millions of avid movie goers who no longer feel any negative financial repercussions tied to their movie selection. Using its members’ viewing data, they could strategically put those risky movies in front of the people most likely to be interested. This opens up a world of advertising possibilities that will put money in their pocket, make more movies financially lucrative and add value for subscribers. All that being said, the most difficult, and also most essential step will be building that army, without going under in the process. So how are they doing with that? So far, very well it seems.

By the end of 2016 MoviePass had 20,000 subscribers. As of January of 2018, they have surpassed 1.5 million. Much of that spike began back in August, when they dropped the monthly fee down from $50 to $9.95. They realized they weren’t getting enough bites at that price point. However, the day they dropped the price, their website crashed due to the massive influx of traffic. Now they seem to be well on their way to gaining that army of millions. I’ve noticed myself the uptick in people I know talking about the service, as well as seeing more people in the ticket lines getting their cards out.

All of this sounds fantastic to most, however some theaters aren’t yet 100% sold on the vision. AMC has voiced objections from the beginning, and is seeking a way out of accepting MoviePass. Their argument is that if the service flops (which they see as a matter of time), theaters will be the ones to suffer as members will not want to go back to the old status quo. Ultimately, to be successful, MoviePass will have to find a way to smooth things over and convince all theaters to buy in to the potential.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next couple of years. Personally, I hope the company can achieve everything it is setting out to do, as it truly will change the face of the movie going experience if they succeed. However, at least for now I’m going to enjoy the hell out of MoviePass while it lasts, as it is hands down the best deal available for seeing movies in the theater.

chris-pratt-and-jennifer-lawrence-in-passengers-20161830394001.jpg
Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in 2016’s Passengers

Red Sparrow Trailer

If Disney/Marvel made a realistic Black Widow movie, it would be Red Sparrow. Literally, this is spot on.

Jennifer Lawerence plays a Russian assassin/spy (with a very convincing accent) in this film based on the Jason Mathews novel of the same name.

I’m excited to check this one out. There’s a great cast with an interesting premise. A premise that could easily go one of two ways: extremely predictable or the type of psychological thriller that keeps you guessing right until the credits. Obviously, I’m hoping it’s the latter.

Red Sparrow releases March 2nd and is rated R, most likely for everything.

Prima ballerina Dominika Egorova faces a bleak and uncertain future after she suffers an injury that ends her career. She soon turns to Sparrow School, a secret intelligence service that trains exceptional young people to use their minds and bodies as weapons. Egorova emerges as the most dangerous Sparrow after completing the sadistic training process. As she comes to terms with her new abilities, Dominika meets a CIA agent who tries to convince her that he is the only person she can trust.

New Star Wars Trilogy Announced!

In just a few weeks, The Last Jedi will be in theaters, and is all you will hear people talking about. Judging from the trailers and all of the promotion, it looks like it will be a fantastic edition to the franchise. How good will it be, exactly? Apparently, Disney and Lucasfilm think it’s incredible. So incredible that they’ve signed director Rian Johnson up to create an entirely new Star Wars trilogy. Wait. What?

A press release dropped this evening, making the announcement: check it out here. While details are scarce, we do know that this new trilogy will move away from the Skywalker saga and, “introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.” While the news is intriguing, it’s way too early to tell how the new trilogy will be received.

In case you were wondering what else Johnson has directed…it’s an extremely short list. The only film I have ever seen, or heard of for that matter, is the Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt sci-fi movie, Looper. I cannot wait to see what George Lucas’s reaction to this news will be.

Disney is also developing a live-action Star Wars TV show that will air on their Netflix-like streaming service, planned for 2019. Check out the available details here. There are already 2 hit animated shows, so the jump to live action seems like the next logical step. Disney has been making huge moves lately and clearly plans on riding the Star Wars train for a long, long time.

What do you think? Is a new trilogy  and live-action show a smart idea or are they destined for a ride with Boba Fett down the sarlacc pit?

New Movie Posters for Marvel’s Black Panther

Marvel released some awesome character posters today for the upcoming Black Panther! Although T’Challa was introduced in Captain America: Civil War, this will be a similar release to Guardian’s of the Galaxy in that most movie goers won’t know much about the characters beforehand. I know I am not very familiar. Black Panther was created in 1966 by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, and has the distinction of being the first black superhero in mainstream American comics.

These posters look fantastic and I’m excited to be fully introduced when the movie releases on Feb 16, 2018.

“Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to take his place as King. However, when an old enemy reappears on the radar, T’Challa’s mettle as King and Black Panther is tested when he is drawn into a conflict that puts the entire fate of Wakanda and the world at risk.

Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/ Black Panther.

Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger

Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia. Judging from the post, she will be T’Challa’s love interest

Danai Gurira as Okoye. She is well known as Michonne on Walking Dead.

Winston Duke as M’Baku.

Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi

Angela Bassett as Ramonda, mother of T’Challa

Leticia Wright as Shuri, T’Challa’s sister (The glove is pretty badass).

Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue. He was last seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Forest Whitaker as Zuri

Martin Freeman as Everett Ross, last seen in Captain America: Civil War.

Review of Thor: Ragnarok aka Asgardians of the Galaxy

Directed by: Taika Waititi

Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Cate Blanchett, Irdris Elba, Karl Urban, Jeff Goldblum

Trailer: Click Here

Marvel has clearly dominated the superhero movie genre for almost a decade now. Looking back on all their successes over the last 9 years, the Thor movies have collectively been the least profitable for the almost 20 movie franchise. So naturally as any business would, Marvel decided they needed to take things in a different direction to try to add a little electricity to the god of thunder’s box office numbers. What we were given with Thor: Ragnarok is undoubtedly a fun ride, but something akin to the Transformers movies: There’s a ton of laughs and action, but it’s not really that cohessive of a movie.

On the plus side, it is great to see a Thor movie that almost entirely takes place away from earth, and is definitely a step in the right direction. What Thor brings to the Marvel table is a world that is steeped in the sci-fi fantasy genre. The previous movies tried to center their plots around Earth (most likely to try to make Thor more relateable) however both ended up suffering because of it. Ragnarok has a fantastic foundation: giving us a Thor story that takes place on his own turf so to speak…and then ruins it with the movie’s biggest issue: excessive, forced comedy.

Tessa Tompson likes to drink more than Thor as Valkyrie

There is a dangerous trend right now in superhero films that in order to be “good” it has to be funny. With the success of movies like Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy it’s understandable how we’ve arrived to this thinking…but that doesn’t make it true. While Deadpool and the Guardians movies are hilariously good movies, it is detrimental to think that all movies have to fit into that same mold.

It feels out of character for Thor and Hulk/Banner to be making jokes or to do “funny” things constantly. That’s not how they are in the comics, and more importantly that’s not how they’ve been in previous Marvel movies. It is so very obvious that their personalities have been changed to resemble those found in the Guardians movies (because they made a lot more money) and as a result, what makes both characters interesting and unique in the Marvel universe is quite literally “dumbed” down in Ragnarok. What we are left with are not Thor and Hulk, but goofy caricatures of what they should be, reminiscent of the Adam West version of Batman.

The other issue with the excessive comedy is that the tone of the movie is all over the place, and as a result, many scenes that are supposed to carry more weight, don’t. This movie is centered around stopping Ragnarok, which is essentially the end of the world. Sounds like pretty dark stuff, right? Well it never feels like it. We are constantly hit with story beats that are suppose to be dramatic and intense, and before we have time to process whats going on…it’s back to cracking jokes. Many of the dramatic scenes even have multiple jokes running through them. It’s just too much. There are events that happen that should shake Thor to his core, but instead he responds by joking around with his best friend Hulk or constantly talking about being a hero. The urgency and intensity just gets lost in the laughs.

The old saying “everything in moderation” comes to mind. While many people thought Batman v Superman was too dark, it is still possible to go too light. Comedy is not the only thing that makes a movie good, however that is what Marvel thinks now looking at the box office numbers.

Thor: Ragnarok is not a bad movie. It has some fantastic characters and an interesting story. (Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum are both perfect for their roles). However, the excessive and out of place comedy takes you out of the movie and negates any weight the movie tries to impose on the viewer. Nothing matters except having a good time. If this is Marvel’s direction now with all of it’s movies then I am extremely nervous about how the upcoming Infinity Wars movie will be handled. It is meant to be a much darker story, and if they try to turn it into a comedy because they think they will make more money, it is going to be a disaster. I don’t want all of my movies to have the exact same tone. Variety is the spice of life.

Final Verdict:

6.5 forced jokes out of 10.

Marvel’s latest Thor movie has a solid foundation, but is held back by excessive, forced comedy.

My Review of Alien: Covenant

 A solid movie you will enjoy if you’re a fan of the Alien franchise or typical sci fi horror plots.

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterson, Noomi Rapace, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride, James Franco

Rated R for sci-fi violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality/nudity

Run time: 2hr. 1 min.

Trailer: Click Here!

Alien: Covenant, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Michael Fassbender and Katherine Waterston is just like it’s predecessor, Prometheus, in that it will go down as a controversial movie for fans. Some seem to have really enjoyed this movie as a “return to form” in the series and some not so much. Covenant acts as both the sequel to Prometheus and also the prequel to 1979’s Alien. (there is also talk of a third movie in the works). This movie is essentially the story of how the aliens, also called xenomorph’s, came into being. This is the main point of contention with some fans. At the center is the colony ship “Covenant” which runs into trouble (of course) along the way to their destination and are lured to a different planet where things really start to hit the fan.

It’s extremely risky doing an origin story with such a beloved and popular franchise. Even more so with Aliens, because the xenomorph’s specific origin source has always been largely a mystery until now. You almost have a “no win” scenario as fans have had decades to create their own ideas and theories. It’s almost impossible not to judge such a movie by these preconceived expectations, and in that regard Covenant gets an unfair handicap. If you can go in with minimal expectations, the movie is a very fun, horror movie. Is it a groundbreaking movie that enriches the lore as a whole? No, not really; but as someone who grew up watching the series, I thought it was a solid addition to the franchise.

As to be expected with Ridley Scott as director, the cinematography is incredible. It’s one of the best things about the movie. Shot after shot is filmed at the perfect angle and just looks incredible. There’s one scene that stands out in particular for me of a spaceship entering a planet’s atmosphere: cutting through the clouds, flying through a mountain range…it’s gorgeous. One thing the movie does extremely well is mix these beautiful landscapes and sci-fi set pieces with grizzly death and darkness of a classic space horror. These elements are perfectly woven together which creates a sense of realism to the story.

The cast is almost entirely forgettable. You can tell from the very beginning they are there for one purpose only: to be brutally terrorized and massacred. The problem is that you don’t really care that they die; there’s no investment in the characters at all. Since this is a colony mission, everyone has a partner which helps to foster more of a sense of loss but it’s not quite enough. A couple promotional prologue clips were released on YouTube that serve to help flesh out the characters. It’s a shame that these scenes weren’t actually in the movie as they would have helped to add weight to the situation the characters find themselves in.

There were really only 3 standouts: “Daniels,” played by Katherine Waterston, “Tennessee,” played by Danny Mcbride, and the synthetics “David” and “Walter,” both played by Michael Fassbender.

The best of the three is easily Fassbender, playing both android personalities flawlessly. They are by far the most interesting element of the entire movie (besides the aliens, of course). It’s also a testament to how advanced CGI has become, as whenever Fassbender was standing beside himself as the two characters, it was 100% believable. Waterston’s “Daniels” fills in the slot of the strong female lead that Sigourney Weaver started in the original movies, and while she doesn’t quite measure up, she does a respectable job. Danny Mcbride did a surprisingly fantastic job as the ship’s pilot; proving he can handle more serious roles as an actor. He was the only supporting character that was remotely interesting.

Covenant has different tones during the movie. It starts as a continuation of Prometheus, but then it shifts from sequel to prequel mode and becomes very similar in nature to the original horror film. As I said the movie doesn’t really take any risks; it just recycles ideas from the previous films…which it does very well at least. I personally enjoyed it as that is all I was expecting, however if you were looking for something different you may be disappointed.

It’s also worth noting that the story takes a turn near the end that you will see coming from a mile away. It is literally so obvious that it’s frustrating that not one of the main cast picks up on it.

Final Verdict:

7 alien back-bursts out of 10.

The bottom line is Alien: Covenant sticks to the horror movie stereotypes of it’s genre and hits much of the same beats as its predecessors. Whether that works for you or not will depend entirely on what your expectations are going in. Is this the best movie in the Alien series? Not even close. But it is a solid and fun addition that will entertain and leave you with several questions that will hopefully be answered in the next movie.

 

SPOILERS SECTION BELOW!!

Go watch the movie then come back.

One James Franco Cameo, Well Done.

I want to know how much James Franco was paid for his 60 seconds of acting for this movie. Seriously. After watching “The Last Supper” prologue on YouTube I was interested to see how Franco would do in an Alien movie, especially as the critical role of captain. I knew he would die a horrible death, but I figured he’d last at least a little longer. In the clip he even mentioned not feeling well…an attempt at misdirecting viewers into suspecting he might have had a run-in with a face hugger and we’d get to see an alien pop out of his chest at some point.

Instead, barely two mins into the film we see his life support pod burst into flames from the inside, roasting Franco to a crisp. He appears later in the film as Daniels looks back at an old video recording of him. His death was a great way to explain why the crew would make the decision to investigate the mystery planet: the captain’s successor was an imbecile. Franco isn’t the highest paid actor to be sure, but it is curious why they would waste such a small role on one of the most well known actors in the movie?

Grade A Science Fiction Gore

Like any good horror movie, there is a substantial amount of gruesome gore in this movie. However, the gore in Covenant is executed intelligently. While people died horrible deaths from unrealistic causes (like aliens bursting out of their bodies), most of the gore is crafted and carried out in a way that it stays within the realm of believable medicine and science, giving the illusion of realism.

Fassbender’s Walter and David: They don’t make them like they used to.

While there were some weird moments, enough can’t be said about Fassbender’s performance. I don’t think I’ve seen an actor play multiple characters in the same movie outside of the comedy genre and he nails it. The way both characters talk, move, and act are flawless. You will believe that they are androids.

I did think it was extremely awkward that David went on a kissing spree in the third act of the movie, first with Walter and again during his fight with Daniels. Maybe that was the point, but it just took me out of the movie. Maybe if this was David’s first human contact, but he spent all of Prometheus with human beings.

I also think there should have been more details explained about Elizabeth Shaw’s fate from Prometheus. Clearly David killed her in his experimentation perfecting the xenomorphs, but why did she play such an important role? And for that matter, why is Daniels so important to his experiments: he told her he was going to do the same thing to her. Maybe these questions will be answered in the next installment.

The Xenomorph Birds and the Bees

This is the part of the movie that has drawn the most controversy. We learn in Covenant that the origin of the Alien species as we know it is due to genetic experimentation by the insane synthetic David. On it’s surface, it is a somewhat boring explanation to a species that’s been held in such mystery and fascination for decades. The xenomorph’s lose some of their intrigue, and it focus shifts more to an android who struggles with existential questions. Xenomorphs have always been depicted as a force of nature that can’t be contained, not obedient children to their “puppet master” creator. The best way to course correct in the next movie would be to have the aliens rise up against their creator and take back control of their own evolution.

Plot Twist: The Character’s Are Dumber Than You Thought

How is it possible that Daniels and Tennessee can’t see that David is pretending to be Walter?! It couldn’t be more obvious. There’s a comment Walter makes about the newer line of androids being able to self heal and that David being an older model, cannot. At the end of the movie we see Daniels stapling the gash in Walter’s face. That should have been it, right there.

But to be fair, the crew of the Covenant are not very smart in general. While it’s true that the characters of most horror movies make dumb decisions; these characters make such terrible decisions that it’s beyond ridiculous.

-Strange transmission coming from unknown planet? We should risk the lives of 2000 colonists and investigate.

-Dark creepy place with aliens outside? I should go off on my own and let my guard down so I can clean up.

-Creepy android gets upset when you kill an alien? I should follow him to a chamber filled with some type of pods and stick my face over top of it as it opens up.