Chips – Movie Review

Okay, okay, I get it. This is a box office and critical bomb.

It had a $25 million budget and its worldwide gross was just over $25 million. So financially, after you include marketing costs and yada yada yada, it was a flop.

Rotten tomatoes has this thing at a 16%…. but the audience score is at 50%. Which is right where I think this movie deserves to be.

On the surface it seems like just another dumb action comedy. But I think it is more than that….

The reason why I think this movie isn’t resonating at all is because we have become accustomed to the fantastically ridiculous when it comes to R rated comedies. And we have become even more accustomed to the insanity of driving-based action movies. Things have to be dialed up to eleven for it to even register as a comedic/action attempt. I think there is something wrong with that though. The biggest sin of this movie is that it is grounded. The stunts and the action are all performed by real people with no help from Mr. CGI. The comedy is based on something that I won’t spoil, but it has a realistic, grounded, through-line from beginning to end that pays service to the two leads. They are two flawed individuals and the comedy comes from us knowing the textbook reasons behind their motivations and them not knowing anything about what they are doing, despite it being obvious to us and those around them. I thought it was an inventive approach to a comedy and I give Dax Shepard props.

The other area I give him props is with the realistic action and stuntwork. I’m a little tired of watching someone do something that is physically impossible and surviving without a scratch. This is a movie where one of the leads can’t even make it to the bathroom without help because of the physical punishment he has endured. There is something charming about it, almost like it is a throwback without being a throwback. I have read some of the criticisms of the movie and they are, if you boil it down, that it wasn’t enough of a spectacle. Not big enough. Not crazy enough. Well, why does it have to be big and crazy? Why can’t it just be grounded and well done?

Grounded and well done works for me.


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – Movie Review

There is not a whole lot to be said about this movie. If you like the ongoing adventures of Captain Jack Sparrow, then this will be a satisfying outing for you. Personally I think this was an improvement over On Stranger Tides, but they all seem to be lackluster in comparison to The Curse of the Black Pearl. That movie is outstanding and I can/do rewatch it all the time. This one? I’ll probably never watch it again, despite the fact that it isn’t awful.

Venture at your own peril…. or something.


The Leftovers – Series Review

The series finale for this amazing series aired Sunday night. I was anticipating something along the lines of what Damon Lindelof did with Lost those many years ago, and I wasn’t far off. The series’ title is “The Leftovers.” Meaning that it is those who did not depart that should be drawing our focus. There are many macguffins in the show and a few red herrings, but the focus is never drawn too far away from the main characters in the series. The performances given by everyone on screen are fantastic. Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon, Christopher Eccleston, Amy Brenneman… the list goes on and on; they crushed, week in and week out. The writing was spectacular and the overall story is one of mystery and purpose. It is hard to broad brush things in a spoiler free context, so the only real way to review this series is to say this: it’s a must watch.

The first season of the show is grim. Very depressing. The acting and characterizations are all top notch, so don’t give up too soon if your are feeling overwhelmed by the sense of dread the first season is so intensely asserting. The payoff lies in the finale. It’s so dark, yet so meaningful. If you’ve made it through season one and the sense of dread hasn’t darkened your soul to the point where you cannot enjoy anything anymore, then season two and three are the reward. More humor is injected into the series in seasons two and three, more feeling, more hope, and even more mystery.

For me, and many other fans of the show, the conclusion was extremely satisfying. There doesn’t seem to be the massive public outcry that followed the finale of Lost, and rightly so. It was the perfect cap to an amazing ride. Everyone involved in making this series deserves a huge pat on the back. They gave us three seasons, 28 episodes, of amazingly written and acted, thought provoking, emotionally resonant material.

I can’t wait for the rewatch.


Wonder Woman – Movie Review

Thank goodness for Wonder Woman.

In my opinion, this is the first solid movie of the DCEU. The other three were disastrously bad… but Wonder Woman is the polar opposite.

While the origin story will leave no surprises for fans of the character, they did a very good job retelling the story. The creative team did a wonderful job of navigating uncharted territory with the movie as the knee jerk reaction to having such a strong woman on screen would be to make the man a ridiculous pastiche-type character, but they did not go that route. Chris Pine’s character is as capable and heroic as you’d want an American WWI soldier to be. For me, this was the way to go.

It is a little trope-y in areas, but that is because they are still shooting this character in the flawed genre of “superhero movie,” something I think Marvel has navigated around by turning their character films into genre pieces starring superheroes. This was a war movie at times, but at it’s heart it was a superhero movie, and that is its only flaw. Hopefully DC learns from the successes of this movie and starts implementing more character into their characters; it would be a welcomed change.

There is a lot to be said about this movie, and I’ve probably already said too much… but I’m happy that this movie exists.