Mini Movie Reviews #2: Deceit, Discovery, and Disney

Another week in quarantine, another crop of movies to talk about. Like last week, none of these movies are particularly new, but they once again show a weird range of genres.

Vice, 2018, streamed on Hulu

Christian Bale in Vice (2018)This movie, featuring Christian Bale as Vice President Dick Cheney both before and during his time in the White House, had intrigued me when it first came out, so it didn’t take long for Hulu to convince me to watch it.

Spoiler-free review

This film was really well done. Bale and Steve Carell (as Donald Rumsfeld) were incredible. I also found it funny in an incredibly cynical, laugh-as-the-world-burns kinda way. I always had the feeling that Cheney was the NeoCon mastermind behind the W. Bush administration. If Vice is even partially true, he was more of a shadow-president than I realized.

The Planets, 2019, streamed on Amazon Prime

The Planets (2019)This was a documentary series we found originally produced by the BBC. The US version was narrated by Zachary Quinto, of Star Trek fame, who was fantastic. It took us less than one episode to get hooked.

Spoiler-free review…?

There’s nothing really to spoil here. If you have even a passing interest in science, the universe, or why Pluto is not technically a planet, go watch this series.

Through six episodes, it tells the story of how the worlds in our solar system were formed. Simultaneously, it tells the story of all of the probes and rovers we have used over the decades to get this information. Cassini, Galileo, Voyager; the engineers, scientists, and others who participated in these exploration projects are interviewed throughout the series to discuss what they learned about each planet their spacecraft explored, and what new questions it rose.

Not only do they provide visually stunning computer-generated renderings of what each planet looks like, but they also provide actual footage of each mission, where available. I really can’t rave about this series enough. I want to watch it again.

Frozen II, 2019, rented on Amazon Prime

Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, and Jonathan Groff in Frozen II (2019)We had my son at home for the last two weeks in self-isolation, since there was a chance we had been exposed to COVID-19. All is well, but after working from home with a toddler for two-plus weeks, I cannot count the number of times I have heard the soundtracks of FrozenMoana, and The Lion King, in their entirety over that span.

Don’t get me wrong, all of that music is great, but it was a lot.

We decided to rent both Frozen movies on Amazon Prime last weekend, because I hadn’t seen either, and I felt like I already knew the gist of the stories from the music anyway.

Spoiler-free review

I genuinely enjoy Disney movies, so it’s not hard to convince me to watch one. The first Frozen was good. I can see why it was so popular with kids, and it definitely has some great messages, but nothing about it really jumped out aside from Kristen Bell’s and Idina Menzel’s vocals.

But guys… Frozen II is a great film. The story of how Elsa got her powers and what it means for her and the kingdom of Arendelle is compelling, the story is not quite so predictable as its predecessor, and the artwork is unbelievable. Every scene with rushing water or waves in this film is gorgeous.

Anna still gets her heroic moments while Elsa gets to show off some of her powers, and the other characters are interesting without bogging the movie down. I really enjoyed this, and I wish I had watched it again before our rental expired.

More Recommendations!

I’m really enjoying how many movies and series I’ve had the chance to watch recently. It’s one of my favorite things to do and just haven’t had much chance to do it in recent months. I’m looking forward to a new batch of movies over the coming weeks.

What have you been watching?

Steve D

Mini Movie Reviews #1: Medieval Action and Modern Music Dramedy

I’ve managed to watch a number of movies/documentaries over the last few weeks that I hadn’t seen before. None of them blew me away, but I have some thoughts, so I thought I’d touch on each one.

None of these are particularly new, so many of you may have seen them already, but they were new to me. I’ll share two today and two in the near future. And maybe I’ll have watched even more movies by then, too. Continue reading “Mini Movie Reviews #1: Medieval Action and Modern Music Dramedy”

10 Stories to Experience with My Kid

My son is eighteen months old now, and he loves listening to stories, turning the pages of books, listening to music, and watching cartoons. I’m not sure how much of any of it he understands, but it’s exciting to watch him experience those things.

A colleague recently told me how he was watching through all of the Star Wars movies with his eight-year-old daughters, hoping to bring them to the theater to see The Rise of Skywalker. He managed to catch it with them just last week, and he said their reactions and excitement in the theater was well worth it.

That got me thinking about the types of stories — movies, books, TV — I’m looking forward to sharing with my son. So here’s my top 10. Continue reading “10 Stories to Experience with My Kid”

#AmConsuming? A Rundown of My Multimedia Consumption

How perfect that I’m posting this on the first day of 2019. I’ve been brainstorming quite a bit recently about how to change up my blogging habits.

One way of doing that is to talk about the things that tend to keep me from writing: absorbing other peoples’ stories. Continue reading “#AmConsuming? A Rundown of My Multimedia Consumption”

Friday Publishing-Day: So Close Yet So Far

This has been a weird week in publishing world. From finicky software to minor non-errors, I’ve suddenly hit a number of hang-ups that probably aren’t a big deal.

It’s just been annoying. I know I’ll be able to iron out the kinks. Luckily, I’ve made progress in other areas this week. Continue reading “Friday Publishing-Day: So Close Yet So Far”

10 Thoughts from Star Wars: The Last Jedi

I thought about writing a full-fledged review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi after seeing it on Friday night, but I’ve had several days to mull it over and read some other articles about it.

Such as this one, explaining why, evidently, a lot of Star Wars fans hated the film: http://epicstream.com/features/Top-13-Reasons-Why-Some-Star-Wars-Fans-Hate-The-Last-Jedi

I think instead I’m just going to highlight what stuck out to me about the movie.

Sound good?

***Spoilers Abound***

Continue reading “10 Thoughts from Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

In Hindsight: A Delayed Review of X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men: Days of Future Past is the perfect bridge story between the early-2000’s X-Men movies of Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Hugh Jackman, and the younger core of James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, and Jennifer Lawrence first introduced in 2011’s X-Men: First Class.

Unfortunately, it serves as little more than a bridge. Entertaining as it is, I found the movie’s plot highly predictable, a plodding build-up to an action-packed, but ultimately foreseen conclusion. Continue reading “In Hindsight: A Delayed Review of X-Men: Days of Future Past”

X-Men: Days of Future Past Revitalizes the Franchise

In 2014, it’s admittedly hard to get psyched for superhero movies the way I did in the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or even the early 2000’s when the X-Men franchise first hit theaters. When the last shot of X-Men 2 teased Jean Grey’s Phoenix or when Nick Fury surprised Tony Stark after the credits rolled on 2008’s Iron Man, the giddiness was palpable. Continue reading “X-Men: Days of Future Past Revitalizes the Franchise”