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Thor: Ragnarok (2017) — movie review
Today’s review is for the Marvel Studio comic book adaptation of the Thor character story: Ragnarok.  The movie came out last year, but because I rarely go to the theater any more and because I’m too cheap to pay full price for a movie, this review is from my first viewing of the movie which is now on Netflix.  For those not familiar with Norse mythology, “Ragnarok” is supposed to be the end of the universe and the death of the Norse gods.
Thor’s (Thor, the god of thunder, is played by Chris Hemsworth) father Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins) dies and his death frees Thor’s older sister Hela, the goddess of death (played by Cate Blanchett) who seeks to claim the throne of Asgard (the place where the Norse gods live).  Thor and his adopted brother Loki, the god of mischief (played by Tom Hiddleston) are defeated in initial combat with Hela, but manage to escape with their lives.
Thor is captured on a foreign planet by a former Valkyrie (played by Tessa Thompson) and meets and fights the Hulk / Bruce Banner (played by Mark Ruffalo).  Meanwhile, Hela goes to Asgard seeking the throne and her revenge.  Blah, blah, blah.  Most everyone dies fighting the goddess of death (makes sense), but a few escape, led by Heimdall (played by Idris Elba).
Blah, blah, blah.  Thor convinces Hulk and the Valkyrie to join him in fighting Hela.  They escape from where they are imprisoned and go back to Asgard to defeat Hela.  And then we all live happily ever after (kinda / sorta).
In my review of the first Thor movie, (this is the third in the series), I said it was a bit schizophrenic and needed to decide if they were going to have the movie in Asgard or on Earth.  This one is almost exclusively off-Earth – and it is much better for it.
This movie is fun AND funny.  It has the requisite fights and special effects.  The movie runs about two hours, but felt shorter to me.  That’s a good sign.  The movie seems to be an almost immediate lead in to the Avengers: Infinity War movie, and that’s okay.  It’s okay, because (like in Infinity War) almost everyone in Asgard dies and so, whatever happens to bring back everyone in Infinity War II, probably also brings back Asgard and all of the folks who get killed in this one.  I guess we’ll have to see, next year.
The movie tries to inject a bit of philosophy by repeatedly stating it is the people who make the place and not the place which makes the people.  It kind of works, but not really because the vast majority of the Asgardians are slain by Hela and the rest appear to face capture / doom at the closing credits.  Like I said, we’ll see…
Anyway, final recommendation: highly recommended!!  As stated earlier, this movie is both fun and funny, with action, lots of humor and great fights / battles / special effects.  I would say this ranks right up with Iron Man and the Black Panther as among the very best of the Marvel Studio’s comic book / movie adaptations.  It is rated PG-13, so it might be a little too intense for very young (pre-7 years) children.  As for 7 – 13, it’s probably not too intense, but it may get them too excited and have them running around acting crazy trying to imitate the movie.  Just sayin’…
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On This Day In:
2017 For Some
2016 Fragile And Explosive, Provocation And Privacy
2015 Bound Up
2014 Economic Engines
2013 Weren’t You Supposed To Be Reading?
Absent Friends
Where I Stand
2012 Hangin’ With His P’s
Help Save
2011 Six Facets Of Good Leadership
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Atomic Blonde (2017)  —  movie review
Today’s movie examines what happens when marry the weak storyline of a James Bond spy movie with the visuals / fights of a Jason Bourne movie and throw in the violence / violence of a John Wick movie – all of which is based on a “graphic novel” (aka: comic book).  And, of course, the “twist” is the main character is a female.  Charlize Theron is Lorraine Broughton (the lead British spy); James McAvoy (the young Professor X in the X-men movies) is David Percival (the Berlin station head / British agent), Eddie Marsan is Spyglass (the East German agent with information), John Goodman is Emmett Kurzfeld (the CIA agent), Toby Jones (the Hydra guy in the Avengers movies) is Eric Gray (Broughton’s boss), and Sofia Boutella (the bodyguard with killer legs from the Kingsman movie) is Delphine Lasalle a French agent.
So, it’s 1979 and the Berlin Wall is about to fall.  A list of all agents (French, British, German, etc.) is about to be sold to the highest bidder.  MI6 sends their best agent (Broughton / Theron) to get the job done – whatever the job needs to be.  Blah, blah, blah, lots of violence, blah, blah, blah, more fights / violence, blah, blah, a hint of lesbian sex, blah, blah, blah, more violence and a spy twist at the end.
Is it any good?  If you like the Daniel Craig / Bond’s or the Damon / Bourne or the Reeves / Wick movies, you will almost certainly enjoy this movie.  I do / have and I did.  Is it serious cinema?  It’s a comic book adaptation and suffers from all of the excessive survival issues of this action / spy / drama genre.  No one, male or female could survive all of this over the top fighting and still function.  Given that, the movie works. It is entertaining for its “kick-some-butt” target demographic / audience.  And Theron surprised me as being able to carry off the role.  She is great and she definitely makes the movie in the same way Craig-Damon-Reeves carry their respective franchises.
Final recommendation: strong.  This will not be a movie to everyone’s taste.  There is little to no humor, it is dark and violent, but it is consistent within the universe of its genre (graphic novel).  Although Theron’s character does her fair share of butt-kicking, if male on female violence bothers you, you will not enjoy this movie.  The movie is rated “R” for violence, language and brief nudity.
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On This Day In:
2017 This Explains A Lot
2016 Me Too
2015 A Proper Price
2014 Well Hard
2013 Because I Can
Eloquence, n.
2012 Why Bother?
2011 Peculiar Notions

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Logan (2017)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the “R” rated live action adaptation of the comic book “hero / anti-hero” Wolverine, aka Logan.  The main actors / characters are: Hugh Jackman, (Logan / X-24), Patrick Stewart, (Charles Xavier / Professor X), Dafne Keen, (Laura / Wolverine’s daughter), Boyd Holbrook (Pierce – the “physical” bad-guy), and Richard E. Grant (Dr. Rice – the “brains” bad-guy).
Basically, Logan is getting old and dying from “something” related to the Adamantium he has infused in his bone structure.  Professor X is dying from old age.  Logan is protecting him until he dies.  Opens with fight scene.  Blah, blah, blah…  Logan meets Laura and has to escort her to “Eden” so she’ll be safe.  Blah, blah, blah…  Multiple fights.  Blah, blah, blah.  Logan figures out Laura is his daughter – sort of.  (I did NOT see that coming.  Just kidding…)  Anyway, more fights and more blah, blah, blah.  Logan meets a young Logan (his “son” – again, sort of).  More fights.  Blah, blah.  Big fight at end.  Laura and friends get away to start a new series of X-men movies with younger actors.
One note: this is “supposed” to be Jackman’s last appearance in the Wolverine role.  I never thought Jackman fit the role as he is tall (over 6ft) and Wolverine is supposed to be about 5ft 6in and broad, but I have to admit, like Robert Downing, Jr. and Ironman, Jackman made this role his own to such an extent that it is difficult to imagine who Hollywood will find for the eventual character reboot.  I hope they can give it at least five years…
Is this a good movie?  If not, does it work as a “comic-book” movie?  If you can get past the graphic violence (“R” for a reason), then yes, this is a very good movie.  Even beyond being a “comic-book” movie, it is a good adult movie.  The main issues are aging, friendship, loyalty, family and parenting.  All are dealt with in an adult / contextual way.  I admit to being very pleasantly surprised…  Even accepting that, the violence is such that I never would have thought this version of Wolverine would ever make it a screen – big screen or cable.  This is the Wolverine I could imagine from reading the comics way back when, but never fitting into a “PG” release to get the most money from a typical comic-book demographic.
Final recommendation: highly recommended!  This is the way I imagined Wolverine.  The movie, however, is not appropriate for young children – excessive / graphic violence and very little humor.  But, and it’s a BIG “but”, if you can see past it, the violence is what makes the movie dark (for Wolverine and the mutant children) and what ultimately gives the resolution emergent hope.
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On This Day In:
2017 Decisions
2016 Along The Path
2015 Make Mine Rare, Please
2014 Passion Flooding
2013 On Purpose
2012 Sans Gall Bladder, Day 4
How Did You Spend Your Day?
2011 It’s Hammerin’ Time!!
Convenient Auxiliaries

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Leap Year”  (2010)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the 2010 rom / com, “Leap Year“, starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode.  Adams plays a real estate stager (someone who “cons” buyers by making property look nicer than it is) and Goode plays a bitter / sarcastic pub owner / innkeeper.  The third main role is played by Adam Scott.  He plays Adams’ cardiologist boyfriend, Jeremy.
Anna (Adams) goes to Ireland to propose to her boyfriend (Jeremy / Scott) on February 29th (duh, “Leap Year”), on the way, she meets Declan (Goode).  A series of comedic incidents ensue.  Blah, blah, blah.  They fall in love, but try to deny it to themselves.  Blah, blah, blah.  Anna returns to Boston with her boyfriend – now fiance, Jeremy.  Blah, blah, blah.  Anna returns to Ireland and her true love.  Happy ending, kissing at sunset.
Is this any good? Does it work as a rom / com?  Yes, and yes.  There are only two issues: 1) getting soaked in the rain (repeatedly) and pelted by hail, is miserable, not romantic; and, 2) people seem to walk incredible distances extremely quickly.  Aside from these two minor breaks with reality, I enjoyed the movie thoroughly.  I particularly enjoyed the old men’s banter in Declan’s pub. A perfect stereotype of an Irish pub.
A couple of other points: I’m not sure if I’ve type-casted Scott or not, but he was completely unbelievable as Adam’s boyfriend.  I didn’t think I was an Adams’ fan, but I’ve seen her in multiple roles (“Doubt“, “Man of Steel“, “Julie & Julia“, and “Arrival“), and, okay, I’m sold.  She’s pretty good.  In those other movies, I don’t think the camera “loves” her.  In this role, it does.  And, then there’s Goode…  Watching the movie, I thought: “This guy is great!  I wonder what else he’s done?”  So, of course, I looked him up and he was in “Watchman“, “The Imitation Game” and “Downton Abbey“.  All of which surprised me because (suddenly) I said: “Wow!  He was good in all of those, too!”
Final recommendation: strong to highly recommended.  As a fairy-tale rom / com this is a better than average movie.  I thoroughly enjoyed the two leads and the various predicaments they got into and out of.  It’s not a believable story / movie (see above), but it’s got beautiful Irish scenery and I found myself wanting them to have the happy ending.  That, in itself, is a pretty high recommendation for any rom / com.
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On This Day In:
2017 Explaining My Equally Meager Results
2016 Every Tool And Every Chance
2015 Something That You Love
2014 Not Really At All
2013 Listening And Deserving
2012 I’m Still Not Certain
2011 True, False And Useful

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Still Mine (2012) — movie review
Today’s movie review is for the Canadian romantic drama: “Still Mine“.  The movie is based on a true story of a farmer who runs afoul of the local building authorities who try to get him to build a cottage “to code.”  The man (in question) is a farmer trying to build a smaller house on his own land to accommodate his dementia-stricken wife.  The lead role: Craig Morrison, is played by James Cromwell.  The wife: Irene Morrison, is played by Geneviève Bujold.  Both are excellent in their respective roles.
Basically, Morrison is a small farmer living in the country (on his own farmland) and he needs to downsize his living quarters from the farmhouse where he and his wife of 60+ years raised their 7 kids.  The farmhouse is a small house, but it is an upstairs / downstairs and Irene can no longer be trusted to walk up and down the steps (inside or outside).
What would you do for your spouse of 60 years?  Morrison’s answer is “anything”.  So he decides to build a cottage for them to live in.  … And, damn City Hall!
So, there are three main conflicts in the movie: the age of the couple, the increasing dementia of the wife, and the pigheadedness of the elderly farmer who wants to help his spouse without the interference of the planning authorities.
The movie is touching.  It confronts the issues openly and – for what we see – it has a “happy” ending.  I doubt if the ending is “really” that happy, but the film gives that impression in it’s post-movie script.  In any case, I found the movie very moving.
Final recommendation: strong recommendation.  I honestly don’t know what demographic this movie was intended for – older and fearful, I guess – but it was definitely a movie which made me think about my own future.  Not that my wife or I have dementia, but we are both just retired and “getting on”.  Ultimately, it is a simple love story which works as a movie.  I enjoyed it, even if I found it disturbing.
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On This Day In:
2017 Did I See You In Chapter 13?
2016 As I Recall
2015 Less And More Irritation
2014 That Marvelous Feeling
2013 Exceptional
2012 A Wild And Crazy Believer
2011 A Lack Of Scarcity
The Joy Of Prevention

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The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017) — movie review
Today’s movie review is for last year’s comedy / action / drama: “The Hitman’s Bodyguard“.  The movie stars Samuel Jackson as the “hitman” (Darius Kincaid) and Ryan Reynolds as the down-on-his-luck “bodyguard” (Michael Bryce).  The corresponding love interests are Elodie Yung as Amelia Roussel (Bryce’s girlfriend / Interpol Agent ) and Salma Hayek as Sonia Kincaid (the hitman’s wife).  The “bad guy” is Vladislav Dukhovich (played by Winston Churchill – I mean Gary Oldman).
So, the story is Dukhovich is on trial for crimes against humanity and Jackson has to testify against him in twenty-four hours or the bad guy walks.  Action, action, action.  Amelia calls the “only” one she can trust (her ex-boyfriend: Reynolds) to get the hitman to the court where he is to testify.  Action, action. action.  Blah, blah, blah – how I met my wife.  Action, action, action.  Blah, blah, blah – how I met my girlfriend.  Action, action, action.  Two guys become friends.  Action, action, action.  Bodyguard saves hitman, hitman punishes bad guy, and, wait for it…  Happily ever after.
Okay.  Is this a great movie?  No.  Is it a great or entertaining action / drama / comedy movie?  Yes, yes and yes.  I have NEVER thought of Jackson as a comedic actor.  He and Reynolds nail the comedy.  And the action.  Okay, maybe not the drama, but gimme a break…  This is simple entertainment, not great cinema.  The sub-text of this comment: completely disregard physics, human endurance / survivability, and the ability of trained / experienced / professional mercenaries to shoot and hit the good-guys in any movie.
This is a VERY funny movie – but most of the humor is in the dialogue and dynamic between the two leads, so you have to watch AND listen to the movie. (WHAT?  I have to pay attention?  Yes.  Sorry.  You do.)  Caution: there is an excessive amount of foul language in this film.  It is not appropriate for anyone sensitive to obscene language (and therefore not appropriate for kids or young teens).  There is also a fair amount of graphic violence.  These both seem to be run of the mill in action movies these days, but both still deserve to be noted in cautions.
Final recommendation: within the cautions provided above, I give this a strong recommendation.  I outright laughed a half dozen times and chuckled a bunch more.
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On This Day In:
2017 At Least Twenty To Go
2016 A Sweet Smelling Blog Post
Pre-Reacher
2015 Getting The Story Right
2014 Like Shells On The Shore
2013 More And Why
2012 How To Gain Effective Fire
2011 Patriot Act

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It is clear that we are just an advanced breed of primates on a minor planet orbiting around a very average star, in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies.  BUT, ever since the dawn of civilization people have craved for an understanding of the underlying order of the world.  There ought to be something very special about the boundary conditions of the universe.  And what can be more special than that there is no boundary?  And there should be no boundary to human endeavor.  We are all different.  However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at.  While there is life, there is hope.
  —  Stephen Hawking
The Theory Of Everything (2014) — movie review
Today’s review is of the romantic drama / biography – story of the college and adult life of Stephen Hawking (played by Eddie Redmayne) and his first (and longest) wife: Jane Hawking (played by Felicity Jones).  Both Redmayne and Jones received Best Actor / Actress Oscar nominations for their respective roles with Redmayne actually winning the Oscar.  The movie received three other nominations, too, including Best Picture.
The movie roughly covers the time between 1960 and 2010, with some after-notes about the subjects lives.  Basically, Hawking is a brilliant student, who falls in love, finds out he has a deadly disease and then goes on to outlive the medical prognosis and become a world-famous celebrity physicist.  His “popular” fame arises from both his brilliance and his overcoming his illness (motor neurone disease, aka ALS – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, aka Lou Gehrig’s disease).
The movie makes a passing attempt to explain the general concepts of a black hole, a singularity, time, and the creation of the universe.  It also spends a fair amount of time establishing the belief disagreements between the two leads.  Steven is an atheist and Jane is CoE (Church of England / Protestant).
Hawking achieved general fame by authoring a book (“A Brief History of Time“) in which he tried to explain his work / theories in terms the “common man” would grasp.  I remember reading the book a few years after it was published and by then it had firmly established its reputation as the most widely un-read coffee table book of the 20th century.  Just as a side note: I asked the few friends who did display the book on their coffee tables (or book shelves) if they’d actually read the book.  The response was 0.  Only 1 admitted to having even started reading it.  Granted it was a limited sample size, but it made me feel a bit sad – mostly because it meant I had no one to discuss it with.  The sad life of an unrepentant nerd…
Anyway, this is a very good movie which is instructive about human character (Jane’s and Stephen’s) and ends with the message that what is achieved through love is often the greatest accomplishment of any life.  Final recommendation: Highly recommended.
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On This Day In:
2017 Don’t Sink Now
2016 A Burning Passion To Teach Freedom
2015 Before Debit (And Credit) Cards
2014 Herding Cats
2013 Ooops!
2012 Understand A Great Truth
2011 Start Here…
2010 Random Acts of Vandalism On Easter Weekend…

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