Shmee Was Rocked By Bohemian Rhapsody!

Bohemian Rhapsody is now the top grossing musical biopic of all time, so reviewing it now seems a little late since everyone has already seen it, but I am going to do it anyway because that is what I do here.  Between Rami Malek’s standout performance and Queen’s epic track list it is no wonder this movie has topped the box-office.  Anytime the movie slows down, or the side characters get a little too goofy, another Queen song starts, and this movie gets going again.

Bohemian Rhapsody starts just as Queen becomes Queen, but this movie is really about Freddy Mercury (Rami Malek).  His life and struggles, and how even though he was a genius, he could never quite fit in.  Almost everyone else in this movie is either comic relief or antagonists.  Except for Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton).  Mercury’s lifelong partner and friend.

While if you hit up Wikipedia or read a book about Queen, you will realize that they changed a lot of things to make Queen’s history fit nicely in to a movie format.  However, according to the band and people that lived through this, the film makers got the feel of what happened right.  So, while this is not a documentary, you will at least understand what happened to this band and its flamboyant front man.

Even though there are a lot of good actors in Bohemian Rhapsody, it almost feels like a one man show.  This is Rami Malek’s movie, and he owns it.  The movie sings every time he is on screen, and it suffers every time that he is not.  There is a reason Fox is pushing for Malek this awards season, and I am sure he will pick up a few.

This movie was made for people like Queen and want to know more about the man that lead them, and it does what it is supposed to do.  Throw in a bunch of Queen’s songs and you’ve got a hit.  Which it already is.  For Queen fans, Bohemian Rhapsody is your movie, but who isn’t a fan of Queen?

Shmee Swims With Aquaman!

Thanks to Amazon and Atom Tickets I was able to see Aquaman a week early, so I am able to get a review out before the movie opens for once.  Aquaman is the sixth movie from the DC Extended Universe, and its second best.  Which to be fair isn’t hard, but it is still a good movie.  It is strange to think in this era of superhero films that an ‘A’ list hero created in 1941 is just now getting his own movie, but thanks to the 70’s animated cartoon Super Friends we think of Aquaman like this:

And not like this:

Anyway, the new movie from James Wan (Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious) and Warner Brothers seeks to change all that, and for the most part they do.

Aquaman takes place right after Justice League, but in no way do you need to know what happened in that film, just that it happened, and Arthur Curry AKA Aquaman (Jason Momoa) reflects on how he came to be.  He has also started being a hero full time.  That is until Princess Exposition  Mera (Amber Heard) shows up and tells Arthur that he needs to come to Atlantis and claim the throne from his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) before Orm can declare war on the surface world.

Aquaman has the pretty standard origin story flow.  He is a misfit kid dealing with some trauma (though not as bad as most superheroes), and he is a reluctant hero until he gains the confidence to fight.  Now that may not have sold you on this film, but what should, is that this thing is non-stop action and spectacle.  It is always showing you something cool or crazy.  I mean there are sharks with lasers fighting giant crabs, Black Manta has his big dumb helmet, and if that is not enough Julie Andrews plays a kraken.  None of this will win an Oscar, but it is all peek ocular cotton candy.

Sadly, it has a few things that bring it down.  This movie is over two hours long and at that it still has barely enough time to tell its story, so a lot of things feel rushed or at least very convenient.  I didn’t like Amber Heard at first.  She was stilted and wooden, but that is because she was given nothing but exposition to say for the first hour.  Once she was done with that she got much better and was clearly having as much fun as Jason.  Willem Dafoe also spouts exposition, but he is much better at it.  It is a gift it seems.

Aquaman revels in being a popcorn movie.  One covered in cheese with some candy on the side, and you can tell the actors were all having a lot of fun with it.  I mean there are dinosaurs in this movie and nobody says anything about it.  They just exist.  Why?  Because they are cool, and that is this movie’s MO.  If you are going in expecting more than that, you may be disappointed, but I had a great time.  It is strange to think that Aquaman is this year’s fourth best superhero movie, but it is still pretty good, and worth your time and money.

Shmee Pulls A Job With The Widows!

Widows is Steve McQueen’s first movie since his Oscar winning film 12 Years a Slave.  It is based on the 80’s British TV show of the same name, but I am guessing the movie is quite a bit different than the show.  Yes, they are both about widows of thieves pulling a job to pay off their late husbands’ debts, but the 2018 move also pulls in commentary about the current state of Chicago, and what it is like to be African American in America, so in other words it is not just a gritty Oceans 8.

In the opening minutes of Widows, Veronica (Viola Davis) Rawlings’ husband, Harry (Liam Neeson), and his crew are gunned down by Chicago Police officers, and it turns out the man they stole the money from is a crime boss running for alderman, Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), and he needs his money to run his campaign.  He gives Veronica a month to pay back the money.  With nowhere to turn for help she enlists the other widows of Harry’s crew to pull off a job to pay Jamal and secure their future.

What every good heist movie must to do is make the main crew sympathetic, and Widows does that very well.  The husbands were bad men, the crime boss is terrible, and the man Jamal is running against Jack Mulligan played by Colin Farrell might represent the worst of Chicago.  He comes from a long line of political wheelers and dealers that have allowed and helped bring Chicago to where it is today.  Some armed robbery considering all that seems minor.

If you are going to try adding politics and racial tensions to a heist movie, you need a good script, and Gillian Flynn of Gone Girl fame did a great job, and cast they got deliver the lines is phenomenal.  Even people that were on the screen for like five minutes is ‘A’ list talent.  Apparently once you win an Oscar everyone wants to work with you.

Not everything is perfect though.  Because of all the added commentary Widows is a bit slower than a standard heist flick, so if you were expecting action and tense scouting, you may be disappointed.  An Oceans or an Italian Job this is not.

I really liked Widows, and I thought McQueen and the bucket loads of talent that brought this movie to life did a great job.  It just might not be the movie that the trailers lead you to believe that it was.  Go in looking for something a little slower and more thoughtful, and I am sure you will be happy with what you see.

You’re A Bland One Mr. Grinch!

As I have said before, the hardest reviews to write are the ones for movies that are just okay.  There is nothing to point out that is poorly done, and there is nothing to laud.  Illumination’s The Grinch is such a film.  It is bright, the characters are cute, and the digital sets are amazing, but it is still the same story stretched over eighty-six minutes.  Which feels about forty minutes too long.

If you have read the book or watched the Chuck Jones original short, you know the story.  The titular Grinch, this time played by Benedict Cumberbatch, hates Christmas because his heart is two sizes too small, so he attempts to steal Christmas from the Christmas loving Whos down in Whoville.  Illumination attempts to add some context, so that we can at least understand why the Grinch doesn’t like Christmas, he doesn’t like it, no not at all.

I will say that at least it isn’t as horrifying as the Jim Carry/Ron Howard movie from 2000, but at least that movie is actively bad, so I can feel some emotion about it.  This 2018 Grinch attempts to delete itself from your memory as soon as you watch it.  It is kind of like paying $15 for sugar free cotton candy.  You probably will not hate it, but you should have spent your money on something else.

The biggest compliment that I can give Illumination’s The Grinch is that my four year old daughter loved it, and I think that is the target audience for this movie, so I guess they hit that mark, but we have been so spoiled lately with animation that works for adults and children, it is hard not to be disappointed with this outing.  If you need to take your family to a movie, and they can’t wait for Ralph to break the Internet, The Grinch is a family movie that exists and is fine, and even better, it is short.  Did you know you can get the Chuck Jones’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Blu-Ray for less than the price of a movie ticket?