Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Christmas Chronicles

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Move over, Tim Allen. Santa got an upgrade!



The Christmas Chronicles – 3 out of 5

I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas films.  I’m not going to yuck on anyone’s yum it’s just that a majority of these holiday features were just things that weren’t a part of my formative years.  Yes, I watched Charlie Brown’s special and all the stop-motion stuff but they never struck a chord in me and, after seeing them once, I was never filled with the desire to see them again.  Don’t get me wrong, there are Christmas movies I love like A Christmas Story, Christmas Vacation and Elf (and no, I don’t consider Die Hard a Christmas movie.  If you do, that’s fine but because a story takes place during that time of the year doesn’t mean I’ll accept it as a holiday movie).  However, when Netflix decided to bring in Kurt Russell and his fantastic hair to play Santa Claus, I listened and heeded the call.

They were impressed to see Santa but when they saw that magnificent hair...

In the Pierce household, Christmas has always been a big deal but after the father Doug (Oliver Hudson) passes away, the matriarch of the family; Claire (Kimberly Williams-Paisley) desperately tries to keep the family strong.  The spirit of the holiday season is alive and well in her daughter Kate (Darby Camp) but her son Teddy (Judah Lewis) starts to fall in with a bad crowd.  After her job forces her to leave the kids alone on Christmas Eve, Kate decides she wants to use her father’s old camcorder to catch footage of Santa (Kurt Russell).  After they discover that he is in fact real, they end up getting trapped in his sleigh and the surprise of it causes enough mayhem where Santa loses control and his reindeer scatter.  Now they are all stranded in Chicago and time is running out for Santa to deliver presents to all the children of the world so he must team with the kids to get his job done.

I almost want to believe that there really is a Kurt Russell Santa Claus delivering
me presents every Christmas.

Overall, I found The Christmas Chronicles to be a cheesy but enjoyable holiday film.  It has its fair share of sappiness that works effectively well and its share of moments that it was hard not to cringe at or even chuckle over.  The performances range from fun to serviceable and the all-around look of the film ultimately feels and appears like a Hallmark Christmas film.  The movie is never really doing anything truly awful but isn’t doing a whole lot to really standout in the sea of holiday films.  I know that sounds harsh but it’s not intended to be because I did enjoy the film and found it made me laugh, smile and even squeeze out some tears but it did feel a tad on the generic and formulaic side for me.

I'm not going to beat around the bush here, I found the animated elves a
tad creepy.

The one thing I really enjoyed about this film is Santa Claus himself, the man that was the reason I gave this film a shot to begin with; Kurt Russell and his luxurious locks.  I’m a fan of the guy (and his great hair).  I think he’s a terrific and versatile actor that oozes charisma and charm.  He brings all that and a lot of fun to the role of Santa.  Also, by having Russell as Santa, this allowed for the film’s best running gag and that is how he is the antithesis to the expectation of Santa.  He’s not round like a bowl full of jelly, he doesn’t say “Ho Ho Ho,” and there are no red chubby cheeks behind that beard.  Russell really brought something new and fun to this character as this dynamic allowed for Santa to be a tad snarky and Russell delivered that aspect incredibly.

This Santa will steal your girl...and you'll be okay with it.

Will The Christmas Chronicles go on to be a Christmas classic that I have to watch every year?  No.  Did I expect it to be when I sat down to watch it or even when I first saw the trailer?  That answer is also no.  I grant that the film is super cheesy and looks to be a little on the cheap side but I did find it fun and heartwarming.  There’s an entertainment value to it that compliments the season rather than feel like it is capitalizing from it.  Plus, Kurt Russell was a damn cool Santa.

I won't spoil who Mrs. Claus is but it was pretty amusing and adorable.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Ralph Breaks the Internet

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! We always hear about people breaking the internet but never about the heroes that fix it back up.



Ralph Breaks the Internet – 5 out of 5

I love, love, LOVE Wreck-It Ralph.  I consider it one of my Top 5 Disney films and one of my Top 5 all-time best animated movies.  I love the story, I love how it brings in all the best stuff of video games and leaving out the toxicity that too often comes with gamers and I adored the characters.  I became such a fan that when I went on a Disney Cruise and got to run their 5K on their private island, I did so dressed as Ralph.  This being said, it should come as no surprise that I was very, very, VERY excited for the sequel and I gotta say that it lived up to my expectations and went beyond them!

                                                                            Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
It's good to have you two back for another film!

It seems like everything is perfect for good old Ralph (John C. Reilly).  Every day he gets to hang out and have fun with his best friend Vanellope (Sarah Silverman).  However, after Vanellope starts to fall into a slump in her game, Ralph tries to save the day but ends up setting up a course of action that leaves the game with a broken piece.  A replacement is available on Ebay but, since the arcade owner can’t afford it, Ralph and Vanellope venture into the internet in order to try and raise the money they need to get the piece.  There, they find a violent racer game called Slaughter Race and Vanellope develops an unlikely friendship with the game’s main character Shank (Gal Gadot).  Meanwhile, Ralph is working with an algorithm named Yesss (Taraji P. Henson) in order to make him go viral so he can make money but he learns Vanellope might not want to return to the arcade and wants to stay in Slaughter Race.  His jealously gets the better of him because he doesn’t want to lose his best friend and soon heads to the dark web to meet with Double Dan (Alfred Molina) in order to find a virus and his actions lead him down a path where he will literally break the entire internet.

                                                                           Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Give him a neckbeard and a fedora and Double Dan looks like the guy who
gets really offended by the existence of women in popular franchises.

                                                  Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
This entire sequence with the Princesses and the
Oh My Disney website is non-stop fun and awesome!
I was very excited for this sequel to Wreck-It Ralph but I also had some minor concerns.  I wasn’t too worried about the general nature of the sequel not living up to what came before but, instead, was worried about the commentary that would be provided as Ralph and Vanellope’s adventure took them to the internet.  When it comes to the ‘net and social media, a lot of artists like to get super pompous and preachy with their creations and think they are making deep and meaningful observations about it (and then it always just boils down to works that show people as sheep obsessed with their phones and this work is shared by that person you know on Facebook that makes up to the minute updated posts about what they are doing that exact moment).  I didn’t want this movie to be looking down its nose at the internet because, for better or worse, the internet is a staple of our existence.  What this film does, however, is take playful jabs at the internet without being pretentious about it and then focuses on the fun stuff the internet provides.  The focus is never what’s wrong with the internet (except when they talk about how awful comment sections are and they are not wrong there) but rather showcases the reality of it and shows it off in an over-the-top and goofy way that fits the reality of the franchise.  Finally, the movie does a very amazing job as it creatively transforms the internet into a world that digital characters can live in and explore.

                                                                             Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
It's best if Ralph and Vanellope stay away from InfoWars.  No sane person
should go near that site.

As I stated, I wasn’t too worried about this film hitting the snags that a lot of sequels have.  Those snags usually involve the film not living up to what came before and often feeling like you are seeing the same adventure told in a different, but incredibly similar way.  Ralph hitting the internet isn’t the same as Ralph trying to become a hero.  This film feels and is an entirely new adventure and it continues to develop the friendship between Ralph and Vanellope.  In fact, I really enjoyed how the story explores insecurities that can form within a friendship and how that toxicity can cause friction.  This exploration is the cause for the more moving parts of the film, something the first film and Disney does exceptionally well.  Just like the first film, this new adventure gave me some tears but it delivers a whole lot of laughs as well!

                                                                            Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Even in animated form, Gal Gadot is a badass.

So, Ralph Breaks the Internet is funny.  When I say “funny,” I don’t mean like funny for kids or I chuckled here and there.  I mean I laughed my bum off.  Since we are living in the Golden Age of Animated Movies, the film delivers humor that is great for kids and adults alike and with joke types all over the humor spectrum.  What’s even better is the fact this is a film about our modern digital age and it is making modern jokes that fit with said digital age.  Nothing in the film felt like an out-of-touch 50 year old white man trying to talk “hip” with the humor.  It feels completely modern.

                                                                           Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Star Wars, Marvel, Wreck-It Ralph...all my favorite things are colliding into
an epic sundae drizzled with awesome-sauce.

                                               Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Eeyore has seen your memes that depression can be
cured by walks outside and has silently judged you.
Ralph Breaks the Internet provides a very entertaining animated feature and a spectacular continuing adventure of these characters that I love so much.  The story is hysterical and fun but also moving with its exploration of how great a friendship can be but also the work it takes for making that relationship work and benefit everyone involved.  The cast is fantastic, the new characters are fun, the animation looks amazing and the commentary about the internet is presented as a rudimentary critique and doesn’t cross the line into smug, pretentious hate.  Overall, the film hit my high expectations and went beyond them for a product that has all that irresistible Disney magic.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Ocean's 8

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! If you read the comments from dudes on the internet about this movie, you'd swear that watching it comes with a risk of having your dick cut off.





Ocean’s 8 – 4 out of 5


Due to the way our society has raised and coddled men, we are swirling in a sea of toxic masculinity.  Thankfully, women are getting tired of it and some men are waking up from it.  However, it still exists and it is shown very prominently in the comment sections whenever an all-female story hit the theaters—whether this is in the form of a female-centric reboot or sequel or just a movie that has a female lead.  Personally, I like films with this direction because, call me crazy, but I like strong female characters so when it was announced there was going to be an all-female reboot/sequel to the Ocean’s franchise, I was all-in.

It's a cool shot...just don't think about how that subway car most likely smells
like urine.


After being released from prison, Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), younger sister of Danny Ocean, gets in touch with her former partner-in-crime; Lou (Cate Blanchett), and prepares for the heist she’s been dreaming off during her time while incarcerated.  They gather a team that includes Rose Well the fashion designer (Helena Bonham Carter), Amita the jewelry maker (Mindy Kaling), the hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), the expert pickpocket Constance (Awkwafina) and the profiteer Tammy (Sarah Paulson).  The plan is to steal a necklace worth over $150 million dollars at the Met Gala and use famous actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) as their unsuspecting means of accomplishing this.  One major problem though:  The man who caused her to go to jail; Claude Becker (Richard Armitage) is going to be there and is going as Kluger’s date.

Cameo!!!
Word up!


Awkwafina might have been my favorite player in this
film.  She was hysterical as Constance.
I really enjoy the Ocean’s heist films.  The casts are great, the stories are fun and the presentation is slick and hip.  When it was announced there would be an all-female film that takes place in the same universe, I was excited.  Then I saw the cast and I got even more excited because there is a lot of talent in this film.  Without a doubt, this is my favorite aspect of the feature because you have so many incredible performers in this film and they are all doing a phenomenal job.  The chemistry they have is very palpable and they all play off of one another effortlessly.  It was such a joy and so much fun to watch all of them interact with one another that it easily allowed me to overlook the film’s shortcomings.

I thought Rihanna was a terrible actor when she was in Battleship but I absolutely
loved her in this movie.  I'm thinking she was just giving the amount of effort
that was barely worth giving for the product that was Battleship.


Like the other Ocean’s films, the product boasts a fun and slickly presented story that has some great editing and some killer music.  Debbie Ocean’s heist is simple but allows for some really creative moments on how to pull the whole thing off.  There were some elements that I wasn’t the biggest fan of as it concerns a twist at the end that sorta had the feeling it was tacked on a bit too loosely and the story does have a feeling that it has an ending but then hits a second story that doesn’t quite pack the same punch as what we saw earlier.  Finally, there is a noticeable issue when it concerns character development as it is a tad sloppy and some characters don’t feel as feathered out as they need to be.  The other films also have this problem and it is not really surprising because the gang is on the larger side and it is not easy to focus on development when the cast of characters is long.

I can't prove it but I'm 100% sure that Cate Blanchett is a goddess who has
blessed us mortals with her presence.


Ocean’s 8 has some minor hiccups within its story, plot and character development but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it.  I loved the music it used, I thought it was very amusing and the cast is just awesome.  In the end, I felt it was a worthy addition to the other films but, thanks to a detail in this particular story, I won’t get my wish to see Danny’s crew take on a huge score with Debbie’s team...or will I?

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Hotel Artemis

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Unlike Hotel California, you can checkout any time you want and you are perfectly capable of leaving.



Hotel Artemis – 4 out of 5

I saw the trailers for Hotel Artemis a lot, especially thanks to targeted ads on Facebook.  I thought it looked cool, had an awesome cast and the title alone just made it sound neat.  I never got around to seeing it when it was in the theaters but this last weekend I got around to finally checking it out and I really enjoyed it.

Sterling K. Brown is a talented and awesome dude.  That's not an opinion,
it's just a stone cold fact.

The look of a nurse who doesn't have time for your
shenanigans.
In the near future during a city-wide riot, two criminals (Sterling K. Brown and Brian Tyree Henry) seek refuge in a secret hospital for criminals called the Hotel Artemis after a robbery leaves them wounded, one of them life-threateningly so.  Under the care of a woman known only as The Nurse (Jodie Foster) and her assistant Everest (Dave Bautista), she starts to treat their wounds but it proves to be one of those nights.  Already caring for a belligerent man codenamed Acapulco (Charlie Day) and a shady woman being called Nice (Sofia Boutella), the location is discovered by an injured cop (Jenny Slate) with a connection to The Nurse’s past.  If having a cop in a den of injured thieves isn’t bad enough, a man named Crosby (Zachary Quinto) calls the place and informs them that the owner (Jeff Goldblum) is on his way and is in need of medical assistance.  But there's something even shadier going on in the hotel and someone's life could be at risk.

I don't want to meet the person that doesn't love Goldblum.

Hotel Artemis is a slick futuristic action/thriller with a hint of mystery thrown in.  The movie does a tremendous job at establishing the current state of the world and adding depth without ever feel like you are being put through the world-building process.  It carries this through to its characters as it introduces and develops them effectively well.  The story is incredibly engaging for its first and second act and it had a plot that flowed so well that the running length of the feature passed very fast.  The only real issue I had with it involved the third act and how it falters a bit.  The final act isn’t bad at all but it lacked the same level of engagement as the beginning portions of the film and feels like it is going through the motions to get to a resolution during the final part.  This is a little disappointing but the fact that the beginning is so strong stops it from being entirely weak.  One other thing that really helped this film out a lot and kept it from being an average feature is the incredible cast.

Everest will put you in the hospital and then surprise you when he shows
up to heal the damage he's done.

From top to bottom, this movie is filled with talent and a wide variety of it.  You’ve got the eccentric players like Jeff Goldblum to the cool and slick players like Sterling K. Brown to badass players like Bautista and Sofia Boutella to some players with a deep understanding of comedy like Charlie Day and Jenny Slate.  They all come together to bring vibrant and eccentric life to their characters and they do it undeniably well.  At the heart of it is Jodie Foster and she is doing an unbelievably amazing job of being the person who is guiding the plot and is doing a fantastic job of showcasing what her character is going through and the weight that is on her shoulders from her past to her current job and future predicament.  The cast is, hands down for me, the best part of this film and they do not disappoint at all.

Holy shit!  It's Paper Boi!

Hotel Artemis is very strong in the first half of the film but as the proverbial shit hits the fan things fall apart to a small but noticeable degree.  Ultimately, however, I still found the entire product very entertaining and I absolutely loved the cast.