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Archive for the ‘2017’ Category

murderOne of my big complaints when it comes to humans and movies that are based on books is that invariably most humans I know will say, “It isn’t as good as the book.”   I have many problems with this statement not the least of which is that it is impossible to turn a 400+ page book, or whatever sized book, into an enjoyable 2 hour movie.  The biggest example of this for me is I remember when the Lord of The Rings Trilogy was released I had people telling how much was left out.  But when they decided to turn The Hobbit into three movies, I heard bitching that there was barely enough material for two movies let alone three.  So my suggestion to you all who have read or enjoying reading books and then worry whether or not the movie will be just as good I say STOP.  Just enjoy the movie for what it is and keep it separate from whatever book it is based off of because chances are if you are still reading books you are going to it more than the movie.

Now I know what you are asking, “What does any of this have to do with your review of Murder on the Orient Express?”  Well my dear readers, all two of you, I mention this because I know that this movie is based on a book by the famous author Agatha Christie.  It is also a book I have never read so this was a blank slate for me.  What amazes me about this story is that it is entertaining but the ending left me with an almost overwhelming feeling of sadness.  Justice was served but it left me with an empty feeling and I just don’t know how to feel about that because I wasn’t expecting it.  But it doesn’t make it a bad, quite the contrary I did enjoy the film and hope that director/lead actor Kenneth Branagh does another of these films because I would definitely go to see another one.

World famous detective Hercule Poirot, played by Kenneth Branagh (Peter’s Friends) has found himself aboard the passenger train The Orient Express travelling from Istanbul to Paris with an eclectic group of fellow passengers.  The train runs in to issues in the mountains when an avalanche blocks the tracks and strands the train and its passengers for a few days until it can be cleared.  The morning after the avalanche one of the passengers is found murdered and Poirot is hired by the manager of the train to solve the murder before the train makes its next stop.

murder2The strength of the movie is the cast as almost all of them do an excellent job of portraying their characters.  I believe the best of the good group was Branagh as Poirot. For being a Brit he was able to pull off French quite well.  He also was quite entertaining bringing emotion to the character both with the humor in the beginning and the sadness /anger at the end of the film.  While Branagh set the pace of all the cast I felt the next closest was Josh Gad (Pixels) as Hector MacQueen who was the assistant to the murdered passenger and the first suspect.  I felt uncomfortable as he felt uncomfortable during his interrogation.  I also want to make special note to actress Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens,) who is Mrs. Mary Debenham.  While her performance is fine but not spectacular there is something about her that I find oddly attractive.  I mean she is a lovely woman and she can definitely act but there is just something about her that just stokes the fire.  If I were to rank her in forms of sweets I like and Olivia Munn is my Easter Peeps, Daisy would be a DQ Reese’s peanut butter cup blizzard.  If there is one actor whose performance I can’t quite figure out if it was excellent or horrible it would surprisingly be Johnny Depp (Mortdecai.)  He plays an obviously crooked art dealer name Edward Ratchett.  Depp plays Ratchett in such a way that I actually hate him and I can’t tell if it’s an awesome performance played perfectly or he hated being in this film and it showed.  The reason I have for this is that at the beginning of the film he played his character just as sleazy and as horrible as any human could be which didn’t make sense to me not knowing the story.  But as the movie went along and followed the story it turns out that Ratchett is a horrible human so it made the performance brilliant…I think.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Depp is amazing and I believe his Jack Sparrow performance in Pirates of the Caribbean is tied for the best character performance in movie that I have seen (tied with Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone.)  The last performance I would like to mention is that of one of my crushes in the 80’s and early 90’s Michelle Pfeiffer (Hairspray.) While her performance as Caroline Hubbard was uninspiring it always makes me happy to see her.  I still have fond memories of her in Batman Returns in that Catwoman uniform and she is downright Goddess like in the movie Wolf. murder3

I know I wasted a bunch of paper earlier talking about not knowing the story of the book.  I decided to do the online Cliffnotes version i.e. Wikipedia and looked up the story of the book and it appears that the basic story of both match.  Which I must admit is interesting idea (If you haven’t figured it out I am purposely being vague as to not spoil the ending if you, like me, had not seen the 1974 film or read the book.)  I will say that the beginning seemed to be a little slow and it did appear somewhat obvious who was going to be murdered as we were introduced to the characters. That being said the mystery kept me interested and the ending was surprising and as I have already mentioned somewhat unhappy in the final result.

Despite the sadness of the ending of the movie I was moved by it and that is due to how Branagh shot the final scenes as well as the music put to it by Patrick Doyle, who is used in most if not all of Branagh’s movies.  The ending stuck with me as I walked out of the theater, in and out of the bathroom, and through the traffic on the way home.  As for the rest of the production I thought visually it was quite nice with lovely wide shots of Jerusalem and Istanbul in the beginning of the film which are greatly contrasted with the close quarters of the train and the choices Branagh made in showing the murder scene and other areas of the distressed train.

I do enjoy the film and like I said I hope we do see a follow up with Branagh as Poirot as the ending of the film has him leaving for Egypt for yet another murder.  This film has quite a few well-known actors that I did not talk about but not for nefarious reasons as their performances were fine.  The list includes but not limited to Penelope Cruz (Zoolander 2,) Willem Defoe (Clear and Present Danger,) and Judi Dench (Spectre.) If you like mysteries and are unfamiliar with the story I believe you will enjoy it and if you are familiar with it I hope you do.  With the many bad movies that are out there I do not believe you will be disappointed by this film.  Unless you are my friend Reed who doesn’t like any movie made after 1980 and thinks the 1974 version of this film is better without even seeing this one.  But he is a tool so don’t worry about him.

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lego-batmanSo I had my choices of movies that opened this weekend to see. They were John Wick: Chapter 2(which I am waiting to see with a friend,) Fifty Shades Darker (be a cold day in hell for me to see that movie by myself,) and The LEGO Batman Movie.   Now the one similar thing between Fifty Shades Darker and The LEGO Batman Movie is that a single guy going to see either of these movies by himself is borderline creepy, albeit for different reasons.    So if you had in the aforementioned cold day in hell and the fact that I love Batman, The LEGO movie it would be.  I was hoping for another surprise like last year’s Zootopia.  Instead I got something that was closer to Minions with more steady laughs but no laugh out loud moments.

LEGO Batman, voiced by Will Arnet (Despicable Me,) is the King of Gotham constantly foiling the evil plans of the Joker, voiced by Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover.)  But one thing that Batman hasn’t been able to overcome is his fear of loss relating to his parents.  That is why he fights crime alone and lives alone with Alfred, voiced by Ralph Fiennes (Spectre.) His life takes a sudden change when he accidentally agrees to adopt orphan Dick Grayson, voiced by Michael Cera (Superbad,) when Batman was distracted by the new Gotham Police Commissioner Barbara Gordon, voiced by Rosario Dawson (Sin City.)  As Batman tries to hide his fear from his new friends The Joker is working on the ultimate plan to get revenge on Batman.

My basic problem with this film is twofold.  One, to me, the movie is aimed at children under the age of 12.  Two, while there are lots of little jokes, especially Batman lore related, nothing really makes me laugh out loud and it seems like there was no real story development because it is very basic.  Of course since I believe the target market is 11 and under, that works.

The story of the movie has the feel of an afterschool special movie made in the 70’s and 80’s.  The whole purpose of the story is to tell kids the importance of family and how you can’t do things alone and that it is ok to ask for help from anyone, including your enemy. This is all fine and good I suppose for the Millennial and Gen-Xer parents out there wanting to enforce that kind of crap…I’m sorry, feelings in their kids.  The problem I have is that in this day in age of Pixar films and non-Pixar Disney films and a few Dreamworks films that cater to both the child and the adult child, this film is aimed strictly for the kids and for me belongs on the Disney Channel and not at the movie theater.  But then again I don’t have kids so what do I know.

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The most telling thing for me and this film is that today I had a long day of work and barely five hours of sleep.  No matter how tired I am if I am into the movie I have no problems staying awake.  However, for this film, I dozed off for I would think 10 minutes at least because I have no idea how The Joker’s Gotham city bad guys got dumped by the Joker for all of the phantom zone villains but it did (This will make more sense when you see the film.)

I will say all of the Batman related jokes were giggle worthy but if you know nothing about Batman and its movies or the TV show then you might miss out on them and then the entire film won’t be funny at all.  The special effects were also amazing and on par with the LEGO Movie.

This will be an entertaining film for your kids but I can’t say for sure that you will like it.  This movie basically takes a great character from the LEGO Movie and tries to give that character its own film but the story is to basic and the lack of humor makes it basically a one trick pony for one and half hours.  But go see it because it won’t be the worst film you see this year.

Oh yes one more thing, there normally would be a whole paragraph on how annoyed I am that movie studios and their marketing departments are wasting the movies best material in the ridiculous amount of trailers released before the movie and why that it is bad.  But I am beginning to accept the fact that this will be happening all the time in the present and future so I should just get used to it.  So stupid.

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