Summer Movie Madness Is Over!

This year is the first year I’ve done summer movie madness, and while I enjoyed most of the films I saw, I’m also relieved it’s done. I don’t go to theaters much, between the whole being deaf and needing caption devices, and not loving big crowds, and also being more thrifty (I’m sorry but movie prices are ridiculous, they just are), I’d rather just Redbox it, so this was a change of pace for me.

Still, I had a good time seeing movies when they were still new for once and a lot of the movies I saw really were better on the big screen. I also liked doing something kind of trendy when I feel I am perpetually behind in all things. Overall, I thought the movies I chose/saw were really well done, and I only regretted seeing it in a theater once or twice. As promised I covered ten movies and here is a list of what I saw (no text, I hyperlinked the reviews if something catches your eye and their ratings (out of 5 stars):

The Circle                                                                                                    Rating: 2.5 Stars

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2                                                             Rating: 4 Stars

Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales                       Rating: 2.5 Stars

Wonder Woman                                                                                       Rating: 5 Stars

The Mummy                                                                                              Rating: 3 Stars

Transformers: The Last Knight                                                            Rating: 4 Stars

Spiderman: Homecoming                                                                      Rating: 4 Stars

War for the Planet of the Apes                                                              Rating: 5 Stars

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets                                    Rating: 4 Stars

Atomic Blonde                                                                                           Rating: 3.75 Stars

Now for some fun superlatives:

  • Best Movie: Wonder Woman       Runner-Up: War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Worst Movie: The Circle
  • Movies Best Seen In Rented: The Circle, Atomic Blonde
  • Best Actress: Gal Gadot, Wonder Woman
  • Best Actor: Andy Serkis, War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Worst Performance: Dane DeHaan, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
  • Best Director: Tie! Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman; Matt Reeves, War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Best Story: Tie! Allan Heinberg, Wonder Woman; Mark Bomback and Matt Reeves, War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Best Visuals: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

And that’s that. Maybe I’ll do this again next year, I’m not sure. Yes, it was fun, but I also feel the need to movie-detox for a while. And that’s just fine, it’s been too long since I’ve reviewed books or food or other things (besides TV). Ready to get back to it.

Hope you enjoyed my reviews for this year’s Summer Movie Madness. Thanks for reading! 🙂

-DMW

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Ending Summer Movie Madness With A Blonde Bombshell

Atomic Blonde

Released on July 28, 2017                                Rating:

Sensual and savage, Lorraine Broughton is the most elite spy in MI6, an agent who’s willing to use all of her lethal skills to stay alive during an impossible mission. With the Berlin Wall about to fall, she travels into the heart of the city to retrieve a priceless dossier and take down a ruthless espionage ring. Once there, she teams up with an embedded station chief to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies.

Make no mistake – without Charlize Theron there would be no movie. I mean there could be a movie, but it would not be even a shell of what this movie is. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a movie so dependent on its star, and you would think that this would be a bad sign (it would be in any other case) but here it works.

Theron stars as Lorraine Broughton, a British spy we know little about, and sadly by the end of the movie that doesn’t change much. What we do know, without a doubt, is that this is one badass you don’t want to cross. But aside from the star, what does this movie have going for it? A few things, even if there are more things it doesn’t have going for it.

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What’s Not For Dinner – Midnight, Texas

Midnight, Texas

Premiered on July 24, 2017                            Rating:

Based on Charlaine Harris’ book series by the same name, Midnight, Texas follows the lives of the inhabitants of a small town where the concept of normal is relative. A haven for vampires, witches, psychics, hit men and others with extraordinary backgrounds, Midnight gives outsiders a place to belong. The town members form a strong and unlikely family as they work together to fend off the pressures of unruly biker gangs, questioning police officers and shades of their own dangerous pasts.

I’ve been excited to see Midnight, Texas since I first heard about it last summer. I loved True Blood and this show is cut from the same crop, literally – based on another series of novels by Charlaine Harris. But make no mistake, they are not the same by a longshot.

Midnight, Texas centers on Manfred Bernardo, a medium/gypsy trying to outrun some debt collectors. His grandmother (who is deceased) tells him to move to Midnight, Texas but as soon as he gets there he realizes that Midnight is not a “normal” town, but a supernatural hotspot. There are vampires, were-tigers and witches – you would think this show would be intriguing, entertaining or at least halfway interesting. Sadly, you’d be getting ahead of yourself.

This show is just blah. The performances aren’t the best, but part of me feels this is more about the writing and direction than the fault of the cast. There is a murder mystery, but it’s not one that is particularly interesting, thrilling or one that makes you care. There might be some romance, but it’s around characters you are indifferent about. It has larger themes like being an outsider, but it takes it on in such a literal and superficial way, nothing seems to be there.

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The Visually Stunning Space Opera: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Released on July 21, 2017                                Rating:

In the 28th century, special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline work together to maintain order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the minister of defense, the duo embarks on a mission to Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis where diverse species gather to share knowledge and culture. When a dark force threatens the peaceful city, Valerian and Laureline must race against time to identify the menace that also jeopardizes the future of the universe.

One week after seeing Valerian, and I am still trying to sort out what I think about it. I liked this movie more than I thought I would, but for none of the reasons I thought I would. And as much as I liked it, there was plenty wrong with it.

Getting the bad out of the way, this movie was way too long. I’m not sure what happened in the editing process, but it would have benefited (extremely) from a serious cut in runtime. It’s not the longest movie in the world, but there were so many lulls and self-serving scenes that did nothing for the story or the characters – it just seemed to have been kept in the film for sentimental attachment. No thanks.

Second, I know that the comic centered on the romance between Valerian and Laureline, but that is the single-most thing that should have been cut from the film or backing up a minute, done right. The romance between the two main characters is not working in this film, both from a chemistry standpoint (there just wasn’t any, so watching this forced romance actually induced physical pain) and more importantly from the writing. The lines were cheesy, and somehow our two main characters went from a non-relationship to a marriage proposal in under five minutes. What the hell? I have not read the comics the film is based on, but I have to believe that in the comic series the romance was handled right. It wasn’t all out and then all in. It wasn’t forced. It happened organically. Not in this film though.

That brings me to my last gripe: Dane DeHaan. I just didn’t think DeHaan’s performance in this film was that great. All right, I thought it was actually pretty bad. He doesn’t pull off the charisma and intrigue necessary for this role and I felt his performance was consistent in one way: it always fell flat.

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The Most Epic Move of the Summer: War for the Planet of the Apes

War for the Planet of the Apes

Released on July 14, 2017              Rating:

Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless colonel (Woody Harrelson). After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both of their species and the future of the planet.

When I went to the theaters to see War for the Planet of the Apes, I didn’t expect what I got. I have enjoyed the reboot film series, starting with Rise of the Planet of the Apes followed up by Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but I wouldn’t call it a favorite. The reboot films follow a darker vision, but in my opinion that’s because it’s a more honest one. This film is by far the darkest installment yet, which perhaps is also why it’s the best.

War lives up to its name and picks up where Dawn left off. Without giving too much away, Rise was an important beginning story, but rather than feature the talking apes people might think of when they hear about the franchise, it went back much further and its central themes surrounded how people treat animals (we don’t give them the respect and care they deserve), as well as how man would be the key to their own downfall (engineering a virus out of greed that gets loose and wipes out most people, setting the stage for the following films). Dawn was mostly about where everyone ended up (humankind and apes) after the events of Rise, and how the “war” got started. War is about the last of humanity scrambling to regain control of the planet and survive – thinking it is the apes or them. And yet in a time where everyone should be unified, both humans and apes find themselves propelled by fear and ego over anything of substance, bringing about mutual destruction.

I’ve already stated War is the best of the three films in the reboot franchise, but more than that it is the best movie I have seen this summer, so far. Masterful is a word I rarely use and yet, it is the word that I can’t stop thinking when it comes to this movie. It has some of the most haunting and moving scenes out of any blockbuster movie that I have seen in a long, long time. The performances in this film are phenomenal, and not what you would expect from a science fiction movie, mainstream or not.

But while the acting is top notch, the real props go to the writing and direction of the film (which happen to be the same person, Matt Reeves). When I think about what elevates this film, I know what it is right away: the story. The storytelling in this film is superb, not just the story itself, as it is written, but how it is conveyed onscreen. While the movie is over two hours, it never lags and you’re never aware because you’re too engrossed in the story. Words like “epic” and “masterpiece” slip past and I’m like, “Wait a second, you’re just a sci-fi movie and I’m not super into sci-fi films – that’s not right.” But it is.

The movie is about humanity at its darkest and what it means to be human. It’s about survival. It’s about war and all of the trappings that go with war. And something more, it’s an eerie reflection of the world we live in now. I almost thought about titling this review “Through the Looking Glass” because War (I feel) is like holding up a mirror to our society today and says, “Doesn’t this look just like you?” In terms of social commentary, if ever there was cause for alarm, this is it. Funny thing, I don’t think that was ever this movie’s intention, just one more reason this is the must-see movie of the summer.


Seriously, even if talking apes isn’t your thing, you have to see this movie. It has war, action, effects, great acting, fantastic storytelling, drama and makes you think. But you won’t realize until after. When you can’t shake the film because it actually reached out and touched you. How many movies can do that and still be entertaining? Not that many, that’s for damn sure. Go see this now!

You’re welcome.

-DMW

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