Monthly Archives: May 2015

Pitch Perfect 2

Movie:  Pitch Perfect 2

Rating:  3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   The Bellas from Barden University are on a roll, having won three consecutive collegiate championships for a cappella singing.   On a national tour singing to rave reviews, they arrive in Washington DC to perform for the president and first lady.  All is going well until Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) swings into a song number on a silk sheet, rips her leotards wide open exposing her…er, whatever, and soon newspaper headlines blare out a new national scandal:  MUFFGATE!

The Barden Bellas are disgraced, a national laughingstock, and told by their university dean that they will not be eligible to compete for another national championship.  But Beca (Anna Kendrick), reading the fine print of their suspension notification, realizes that the Bellas have not been disqualified from representing the United States at the upcoming world a cappella championships.  Desperate to grasp at this last straw to redeem themselves as a group, the Bellas resolve to travel to Copenhagen to win the competition.  To accomplish their goal, the women realize they must find a way to bond together and rediscover the sound that made them great.  Part of the answer lies with finding new talent for their group, which arrives in the person of Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), an eager freshman who’s mother was a founding member of the Bellas.

To get ready for the world championships the Bellas take on a pack of groups at a riff-off, singing against the Treblemakers, the Green Bay Packers, the Tone Hangers, Pentatonix, and the Filharmonic.  But the real obstacle on their path to redemption are the reigning world champions, Das Sound Machine, led by two very smug and arrogant Germanic types named Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen) and Pieter Kramer (Flula Borg).

It is always difficult to recreate the magic of a monster hit of a film.  Some folks may not like this as well as the original, but it is still a rousing fun ride.  Pay attention to the two singing competition analysts, John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks).  Their quick banter is chock full of hilarious zingers and sly innuendos.  Fun stuff – go see it!

Dialogue Nuggets:  John – “What an inspiration to girls all over the country who are too ugly to be cheerleaders!”

Minority Bella – “This is the biggest crisis we’ve ever faced.  When I was a girl my brother tried to sell me for a chicken.”

John – “You’re just women, and you’ll all be pregnant soon.”

Fat Amy – “We need to scout these Deutsch Bags!”

Kommissar – “You are tiny.  I need to go rest my neck.  It is tired from looking down at you.”

John – “No one cares about the Korean group.  Love that Bar-B-Q!”

Gail – “The Bellas have touched everyone.  They have touched me!”  John – “Well, everyone has touched you, Gail.”





Mad Max: Fury Road


Title:  Mad Max:  Fury Road

Rating:  3 1/2 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:  “What a Luvly Day!” exclaimed one psychopath, as he went tear-assing around the Namib Desert trying to kill people.  I guess as long as you enjoy your work, every day can be a lovely one.  Not such a lovely day for Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), who was captured and then hung upside down to become a permanent source of blood donations.  Word to the wise – be careful who you let know that your blood type makes you a universal donor.

In the middle of this apocalyptic wasteland is a natural rock stronghold that serves as a headquarters for the chief maniac known as Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).  This nutjob has obtained power as some kind of warlord in his part of the barren land, and underneath him serve a number of bosses, one being Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron).  Furiosa is ordered to take a large tanker to an out of the way place known as Gastown, where fuel is being refined.  But along the way Imperator Furiosa takes the equivalent of the Schlossen Cutoff (tip of the hat to Johnny Carson), and very quickly all hell breaks loose.  An armada of vehicles, some resembling the Wacky Racers from cartoons while others looked like survivors from Monster Truck demolition derbies, race after Furiosa’s big rig like greyhounds chasing the rabbit.

What’s up with Imperator Furiosa?  She’s got five young women stashed in her rig, and she’s hellbent on getting them to a far off oasis of sanity known as the Green Place.  But the only help they have is Max, and a turncoat known as Nux (Nicholas Hoult).  Along the way they encounter other violent neighboring tribes such as the Buzzards in their porcupine vehicles, and the Rock Riders on motorcycles.

In this film, it is not about the destination; it’s all about the journey.  For you action fans you are given a two hour thrill ride of action sequences that will satisfy even the most hard to please adrenaline junkies.   We’re told most of the stunts are for real with little CGI in the movie, which makes it hard to believe that any of the stunt people could have survived.  Plus it’s nice to have two great actors like Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy in the lead roles to give the film a little class.

Dialog Nuggets:  Max – “It’s hard to tell who is more crazy; me, or the rest of the world.”

Immortan Joe – “Do not become addicted to water!  You will resent its absence.”

Nameless Maniac – “She took breeders, prize breeders.  And he wants them back!”

Woman – “What are you doing?”   Furiosa – “Praying.”  Woman – “To who?”  Furiosa – “Anyone that’s listening.”


Hot Pursuit

Movie:  Hot Pursuit

Rating:  3 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   San Antonio police officer Rose Cooper (Reese Witherspoon) is a cop trying to live down her past.  She mistakenly thought a beer guzzling college student was an armed perpetrator, and tasered him with the result that his beer soaked shirt erupted into flames.  Now Officer Cooper is saddled with working in the station’s evidence room, hoping to someday live down her reputation and become a good street cop like her decorated father was.

As fate would have it, a female police officer is needed to assist a U.S. Deputy Marshall escort Daniella Riva (Sofia Vergara) and her husband to Dallas to testify against a murderous drug cartel boss Vicente Cortez (Joaquin Cosio).   This is Cooper’s big chance to redeem herself in the eyes of her fellow officers, but things go terribly awry, and Cooper finds herself on the run with Daniella with people constantly trying to kill them.

This is kind of a buddy movie for Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara, and they work very hard to make viewers laugh despite a fairly weak plot.  Nevertheless, it provides harmless fun amidst a summer of movies that are mostly blowing things up, so go see it and have a few laughs.

Huh?  What the….:  As a child, Rose Cooper was allowed to go on ride-alongs with her police officer dad, and was put in the back seat with arrestees?   Nah, don’t buy it.

Rose goes undercover and gets thoroughly frisked, yet moments later pulls out a large gun from somewhere.  Where did she conceal it??

The movie supposedly takes place in San Antonio and the hill country north of the city, and we even see a sign for Aquarena Springs, but in the credits we find out the whole movie was shot in …Louisiana!  What the hell!!

Dialogue Nuggets:   Mr. Cortez – “If I relocate to Ohio, what is the furthest place you can send my wife?”

Rose Cooper – “Do we have any idea if Mrs. Cortez is menopausal?”

Rose – “I’m trying to save you!”  Daniella – “I’m trying to save me too!”

To Daniella – “Are you concealing a communication device in your chestal area?”

Daniella describing Rose – “She’s my tiny, little queer robot!”

Rose to Daniella – “I have been shot at, set up, and hunted down.  I let you get to 3rd base with me.  Now get your ass in gear!”

Rose to Daniella – “You look like a sexy traffic cone!”





Ex Machina


Movie:  Ex Machina

Rating:  4 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   Young twenty-something Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), a talented coder at the world’s largest internet company, is overjoyed to learn that he has won a contest to spend a week with the reclusive billionaire owner of his company.  Following specific instructions, Caleb is flown by helicopter to a remote estate and dropped off in a vacant field, and told to follow the river until he comes to a building.  The young man dutifully follows orders, and eventually finds a structure, knocks on the door, and is blinded by a camera that takes his photo and spits out a plastic ID that allows him to enter the very private domain of Nathan (Oscar Isaac), commonly referred to as the world’s greatest genius in the field of computer applications.

Once inside the secure facility, Caleb is met by Nathan, and is quickly asked to sign an iron-clad nondisclosure agreement before Caleb is even told the purpose of his visit.  But once that business is taken care of, Nathan appears to be a regular down to earth kind of guy, who enjoys the adulation and companionship of one of his brightest employees.  But why has Caleb been brought to this place?  The answer lies with Ava, Nathan’s greatest creation.  She is the world’s first AI (Artificial Intelligence), or at least that is Nathan’s hope.  Caleb is there to act as an unbiased interviewer of Ava to see if she truly qualifies as AI.

This film is a very intelligent and fascinating film on several levels.  It does delve into that question of how close can an AI come to becoming human.  Plus there are some layers that slowly get peeled back as far as motives for the characters, and what really is going on in that remote laboratory with Caleb, Nathan, Ava, and a mute servant woman named Kyoto (Sonoya Mizuno).  Just know that things are not always what they seem, and the  story plays out like a sly tribute to Hitchcock.  Quite an interesting film, and the scenery in Norway is absolutely beautiful.

Huh?  What the….:  The helicopter guy said no one is allowed to land anywhere near the billionaire’s estate.  So how the heck does the food and supplies get out there?

There is a scene where Caleb apparently wants to convince himself that he is not actually an AI and cuts himself to see the blood.  I would think by his age he would have seen enough of his bodily fluids to realize that it was quite unnecessary….

Dialogue Nuggets:  Caleb – “How long before we get to his estate?”  Helicopter Pilot – “We’ve been flying over his estate for the past two hours!”

Nathan – “Do you know what the Turing Test is?”

Ava – “Caleb, you’re wrong about Nathan.  He isn’t your friend; you shouldn’t trust him.”

Ava to Caleb – “I’d like us to go on a date.  Are you attracted to me?”

Caleb to Ava – “I’m here to test you to see if you have consciousness or just baling wire.”

Ava – “Late at night I’m wondering if you’re watching me on the camera.”

Nathan – “Do you think I don’t know what it’s like to be smarter than everyone else?”

Nathan – “One day the AIs will look down on us the way we look at fossils in the dust of Africa.”