It is here that I will review a variety of movies and give them a score based on the review. I reserve the right to update my rankings from time to time as I fine tune my scoring process.
The ratings will be on a 1 to 10 scale with 10 being the best and based on the following seven categories:
|Initial Impression||This part of the review is where I describe my first reaction after seeing the movie.
Did I enjoy it? Was I energized, bored, etc...?
|Story||How good was the writing? Did the story compel me to stay engaged?
Was the dialogue believable?
|Direction||Basically this covers all areas under the control of the director.
This includes design, cinematography, and artistic license.
|Acting||Sometimes this is more about casting and the dialogue than it is about the actor's actual ability,
but I will judge this based on how believable I felt the acting was.
|Audience Appeal||This is just my best guess on how well I think it will do in the theaters.
Personally, I think that should be a factor when picking the year's best picture. I mean
how can you call it "Best Picture" if noone wanted to see it?
|Bonus||I will add points to the score based on random things that I really liked about the movie.
So yes, with this bonus, a movie could get a score higher than 10.
|Deductions||I will deduct points for things that I really did not like or felt was an issue.|
Synopsis: Imprisoned on the other side of the universe, the mighty Thor finds himself in a deadly gladiatorial contest that pits him against the Hulk, his former ally and fellow Avenger. Thor's quest for survival leads him in a race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home world and the Asgardian civilization.
Initial Impression: This was one of my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe movies! I laughed… a lot.
I enjoyed a ton of action and the villain was pretty cool as well. Definite thumbs up for Thor!
Story: The overall story was pretty interesting although, it was almost two different stories going
simultaneously. The first story focused on how Thor would be able to defeat Hela, and the second story was about the Hulk.
I think that both were woven together nicely and provided completely different themes at the same time. In general, I was
very pleased with the writing. It provided a significant amount of action, as you would expect from a super hero movie.
It also provided plenty of snarky and humor filled comments from its characters. The only flaw that I could see is that,
in this film, Thor was much more laid back and at times awkward, compared to earlier films. It was fun to watch, but at the
same time it seemed a little out of character from what we have seen before.
Direction: Pretty darn good job overall. Taika Waititi is a man of many talents.
He not only directed Thor Ragnarok, but also voiced the hulking but soft spoken Korg in the film.
Taika’s background as a comedian also came through in this film as it was easily the funniest Marvel film to date,
with maybe the exception of the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. The two main things that stood out to me from a
directorial perspective were this. One; the completely different themes between Asgard and Sakkar. Asgard continues
to look like a set piece that was left over from the Lord of the Rings. It is grand and majestic with tons of gold and silver
gleaming in contrast to the abundant trees and water. Sakkar, on the other hand, looks like they re-used the set from Elmo in Grouchland.
Don’t get me wrong, it works. The bright colors make the trash heap of a planet actually seem more like an amusement park
than anything else. This contrast in environments really helped to make the film seem like it had two distinct stories going
on simultaneously. Two; while this was extremely funny, there were times that I think that Waititi went too far into the
slapstick. However, I can almost give this a pass, because when you really think about it, the key demographic for this
type of movie will be 10 to 16 year old boys. Yes, it was made for all audiences, but it’s still a live-action comic
Acting: Cate Blanchett… I could probably stop there and just give a score but I will go ahead and
expound anyway. Cate Blanchett was scary, funny, and DAMN SHE WAS SEXY!!! I have already told my wife that she needs to
master the smoky eye look as a result of this movie. I was pleased with the acting pretty much across the board, including
several fun cameos throughout the movie. While I didn’t agree completely with the choice to make Thor more awkward in this
film than previous ones, Chris Hemsworth pulled it off amazingly well. Special shout out to Tessa Thompson, who actually
makes us not feel too bad that (spoiler) Thor and Natalie Portman aren’t together anymore. Karl Urban and Mark Ruffalo gave
fun, although limited in lines performances as Skurge and the Hulk respectively. The only weak points were with Jeff Goldblum
(GrandMaster) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki) who gave solid performances, but nothing new. It was an interchangeable Goldblum character
from most of his other movies, albeit a much funnier one and Loki was… well Loki.
Audience Appeal: I would recommend this film for all audiences. There are a couple of fairly
scary scenes for small children (under 7), but in general, I believe that this film will appeal to most fun loving movie
Bonus: The Doctor Strange scene and other fun cameos earn 1 bonus point for this film.
Deductions: No deductions
Final Score: 43.5 points + 1 point bonus / 5 = 8.9
Synopsis: Luke Skywalker's peaceful and solitary existence gets upended when he encounters Rey, a young woman who shows strong signs of the Force. Her desire to learn the ways of the Jedi forces Luke to make a decision that changes their lives forever. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren and General Hux lead the First Order in an all-out assault against Leia and the Resistance for supremacy of the galaxy.
Initial Impression: The Last Jedi provided pretty much what I expected. I got some cool force powers,
some great fight scenes, some unexpected twists, and some unexplainable plot holes. Overall though, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.
I would like to see the movie again, but I can wait for a while.
Story: What I was most pleased with in this film was the rounding out of both Kylo and Rey.
Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley provided excellent performances and I found myself wanting to know more about each of their characters.
We were provided some better explanation of what’s going on with Luke, though I was somewhat disappointed with his overall use in the film.
The same can be said for Supreme Leader Snoke. We got a much better look at that character and how powerful he was.
The story was well written in that it moved the saga along, although I still saw a few too many similarities to Empire for my taste.
But hey, if you want copy anything from a Star Wars film, Empire would be the best one to go with. There were definitely some twists
that I did not expect to occur in this film and it makes me very curious as to how they plan to end things in the last film. Initial impression
aside, as I have watched this installment a couple more times, I have found a few things that only bothered me slightly when I first saw the
movie, now really bother me. I am fine that Disney is promoting more diversity within the Star Wars franchise. It's about time. Still, I wish they
did more with the characters. It felt like Finn and Rose had completely irrelevant and unnecessary parts in this film. I like the characters
and wish they had been used in a more appealing fashion. I also find that Finn, who is very well portrayed by Boyega, is being written
very inconsistently. In one moment, he wants to run from the First Order, who he feels cannot be beaten, and in the next moment he is heroically
running off to battle them. I guess my biggest issue is that it feels like Disney rushed this film a little bit and did not think through the story enough.
What I mean is, I would have liked to think that someone would sit there, read the script and point out all of the logical flaws. They might not
have been able to resolve all of the flaws, but it would have helped tremendously. Disney has put themselves into a bit of a corner with
the choices that they made in this film. The next film will either pull everything together and make this run of films a wonderful addition to the
Star Wars mythology or it will destroy all of the credit Disney earned with its Marvel films. As Luke says to Rey, “Things are not going to go the way you think.”
Direction: Visually, this one of the more beautiful Star Wars films. Rian Johnson did an excellent job from,
set design, location selection, costumes, to overall direction of the cast. Each character felt believable and for the most part, in place.
There was humor and it wasn’t over the top or forced (pun intended).
Acting: As I have already mentioned, Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley were great and I very much enjoyed learning
more about their respective characters. Another character that had the opportunity to shine was Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron.
Poe picks up where he left off in the first film with his swashbuckler flair and snarky sense of humor. He is easily turning into my
favorite character along with BB-8 in these new films. I was also fairly happy with the late Carrie Fisher’s performance. Perhaps I
am feeling a bit nostalgic because the actress is no longer physically with us, but I was very pleased with what they did for Leia in
this film. Both Mark Hamill (Luke) and Andy Serkis (Snoke) provide us with an almost scary look at what kind of power a force user
can have. I really would have liked to have seen more of Snoke. Special shout out to Laura Dern as Vice Admiral Holdo and Benicio
Del Toro as DJ. They portrayed very interesting characters that would be fun to learn more about.
Audience Appeal: Well, it’s Star Wars. I’m not sure there is a franchise out there, short of maybe Harry Potter
that has greater box office appeal. While the film did secure a PG-13 rating, I don’t see that stopping parents from bringing a younger
audience with them. I don’t plan on taking my daughter to the theater to see this film because it does have some darker elements that
might be a bit much from her, but I will leave it to the parents to decide. It was no darker than Revenge of the Sith.
Bonus: If I had to rank Star Wars films, I would put this in the top half, but not sure how high. At the moment, I would put it a step behind Rogue One. I can’t find anything about it that really jumped out at me from a positive that would make me want to give bonus points. 0 points
Deductions: There were just a few things that the nerdy fanboy side of me could not reconcile. This is hard to describe without adding any spoilers, but suffice to say a couple moments occur where you simply have to ignore how things like gravity work and go with it. -3 point
Final Score: 37 points - 3 point deduction / 5 = 6.8
Synopsis: Despite his family's generations-old ban on music, young Miguel dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead. After meeting a charming trickster named Héctor, the two new friends embark on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel's family history.
Initial Impression: I felt this was an enjoyable movie and pretty much par for the course for Pixar films.
I really enjoyed the animation, but the story felt a little simplistic in that I figured out the twist pretty early.
Story: While I stand by my initial reaction that the story was fairly simplistic; upon reflection,
I realized that Coco is a film that subtlety delves into some very deep subject matter. Obviously death, but beyond that, how families deal with death of loved ones.
Another deep topic was family dysfunction. Miguel wants, more than anything, to be a musician. Unfortunately his entire family is against this.
Even Alzheimer’s is alluded to, if not directly addressed. On a more positive note, the writing does a wonderful job of introducing many of us to the Mexican,
“Dia De Los Muertos” holiday. We are able to learn about how families celebrate the life and memories of their ancestors during the holiday.
Each of these topics is handled in an intelligent and significant manner. The only real negative other than the simplistic nature is that they seemed
to be a little lazy with the jokes. What I mean is, pretty much all of the jokes were skeleton based.
Direction: Interestingly, this film had two directors, Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina. Apparently some of the film crew and animators
took five trips to Mexico to learn more about the culture and to research for the film. It paid off. The visual appeal of the film is amazing.
Stunning colors and emotion on the faces of the characters stand out the most.
Acting: This is a little harder to judge since it is limited to the voice talents.
However, the characters were all believable and fun. Young Anthony Gonzalez as “Miguel” is wonderful in his first big movie.
Benjamin Bratt, as ”Ernesto De La Cruz” is solid as well. This is his not his first time voicing animated characters as he was also in both,
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies and Despicable Me 2.
Audience Appeal: I am a firm believer that Pixar animation and John Lassiter have one goal when it comes to making movies
and that is to MAKE EVERYONE CRY. I took my daughter to see Coco and having a basic idea of what to expect, I figured there might be a couple of tear
jerker moments, but dang if I didn’t need to bring a whole box of tissues. While this film does take on some heavy topics, which probably warranted its 'PG' rating,
it is definitely family friendly and will most certainly be yet another success for Disney.
Bonus: The animation was absolutely stunning. +3 points
Deductions: No significant issues warranting a deduction of points.
Final Score: 40.0 points + 3 point bonus / 5 = 8.6