Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Movie review: Small Is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary

 
 Small Is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary follows four people who build their own tiny homes seeking freedom from debt.

Dee Williams, Ben Campbell, Nicholette Codding, Mitchell Mast, Karin Parramore.

Small Is Beautiful: A Tiny House Documentary begins with brief interviews introducing us to the four tiny home owners and their reasons for avoiding the traditional housing market. Along the way the documentary gives us a nice introduction to tiny homes and their construction. While the tiny home fad is interesting and this documentary a good start to understanding it, what it doesn't do is discuss things like sanitation, building codes, or issues with placement.

Being a documentary there wasn't much acting in this one. Yet, the characters all did fairly well.

Camera work and backgrounds are well done. Dialogue was good though it felt the focus was on the people rather than the houses. Sound and soundtrack are good.

If you have heard about the tiny house movement and want to know more this is a good place to start. If you know about it already this one will likely be a boring waste of time for you.

Nothing here to limit audience age.

Released: 2014
Reviewed: 10.9.17
Star rating: 2 out of 5
Genre: Documentary, Social & Cultural Documentaries

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Monday, October 16, 2017

Movie review: Split

 
 Kevin suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder and has revealed 23 distinct personalities to his therapist. But when a new personality begins to surface and take complete control, kidnapping 3 young girls in the process, his other personalities fight back to survive.

James McAvoy (Kevin), Anya Taylor-Joy (Casey), Betty Buckley (Dr. Fletcher), Haley Richardson (Claire), Jessica Sula (Marcia), Izzie Coffey (Young Casey), Brad Henke (Uncle John), Sebastian Arcelus (Casey's Dad).

Split begins without much background, instead joining Kevin's life as he begins his mental breakdown with the kidnapping of 3 girls. As the story unrolls we are introduced to Kevin's multiple, distinct personalities and the possibility of a newly emerging personality not seen before. As his personalities become more aware of one another, and of the dangerous actions of the emerging personality, they begin to fight for control of Kevin's consciousness. The remainder of the film is something of a roller-coaster ride of suspense, fear, drama, and mental chaos.

Acting was good with McAvoy delivering an absolutely wonderful performance and variety of characters very well. Taylor-Joy was enjoyable and seemed to work well with McAvoy and others with nice, solid delivery. Richardson and Sula were decent and added some depth. Buckley was enjoyable and fit her role well, as did Coffey and Henke.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were nicely done throughout. Masking the location where the girls were kept captive was brilliant and helped with audience engagement. Action scenes were nicely done while also somewhat surprising. Dialogue was solid and enjoyable, as was sound and soundtrack.

Split is an enjoyable film in many ways. While the horror aspect is absolutely front and center,  there is a good deal of mystery as well and in true M. Night Shyamalan style, some questionable twists. The film holds interest well, moves along at a good pace, and is appropriately disturbing.

With a fair amount of violence and gore, some foul language, and images which may be disturbing to younger viewers, save this one for older teens and above.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 10.9.17
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Supernatural Thrillers,

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Friday, October 13, 2017

Movie review: Gold

 
After inheriting the family business, Washoe Mining, Kenny Wells watches the company decline eventually leaving him out of business. But Kenny won't quit and becomes convinced he will find gold in Indonesia that will save the company.

Matthew McConaughey (Kenny), Edgar Ramirez (Acosta), Bryce Howard (Kay), Corey Stoll (Brian), Toby Kebbell (Paul), Bill Camp (Hollis), Joshua Harto (Lloyd), Timothy Simons (Jeff), Craig Nelson (Dad), Macon Blair (Connie).

Gold begins well enough before Washoe Mining enters a slow death spiral prompting Kenny to take an unusual risk. Teaming up with a discounted geologist who is convinced there is gold in Indonesia, Kenny risks everything in hopes of bringing his company back from the dead. Instead he finds disease, deception, and resistance from the financial markets. The remainder of the film is a gritty, dirty story that while entertaining, is a lot like watching a train wreck.

Acting left a bit to be desired here. McConaughey put in the energy but his character is unlikeable as a dirty, scrounging mess. Ramirez was much more enjoyable and delivered well. Howard also did well, and worked well with McConaughey. The remainder of the supporting cast was a bit bland, but did fairly well.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were enjoyable with nice use of natural scenery. Some mild action was nice at times. Dialogue was good with fair depth. Sound and soundtrack were nicely done.

Overall Gold is a gritty drama with limited appeal. Those who enjoy uplifting films will probably dislike this one, while others will respect the pain of reality and find some value with this one.

With some mild sexuality and foul language, this should be fine for older teens and above, though younger viewers probably will not find much in this one they care about.

Released: 2016
Reviewed: 9.18.17
Star rating: 3 out of 5
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Adventure, Action

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Movie review: Logan

 
 Caring for Professor X and trying to keep him hidden, even as his own healing powers are waning, Wolverine struggles with the desire to live. But all his efforts are upended when a runaway mutant, pursued by her creators, arrives seeking help.

Hugh Jackman (Logan), Patrick Stewart (Charles), Dafne Keen (Laura), Boyd Holbrook (Pierce), Stephen Merchant (Caliban), Elizabeth Rodriguez (Gabriela), Richard Grant (Dr. Rice), Eriq La Salle (Will).

Logan is the inevitable conclusion of aging X-Men and not quite the Happy Ever After film we have come to expect from the franchise. This one is a bit darker, more violent, and completed with an ending that many will be unhappy to see. At the same time the story has more depth and relevance to the franchise than other films. The story moves along at a good pace with plenty of action and suggestions for the future.

Acting was decent, though Jackman doesn't feel as engaged as he has in the past. Stewart delivered well in a role that must have been difficult. Keen was an interesting addition and while she did well, we also hope for future growth since it appears she will be around a while. Holbrook, Merchant, and the remainder of the cast were good.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds felt a bit tamed in comparison to previous films, but still good. Action scenes were darker and more graphically violent, but relevant. CGI was solid and enjoyable. Dialogue was good but could have given a bit more depth. Sound and soundtrack were okay.

In some ways this is the Marvel film we didn't want to see, and appears to mark the end for this part of the story. Some will feel it fitting, while most franchise fans will likely feel saddened. Either way, if you follow the franchise this is one you should see.

With plenty of persistent graphic violence, mild nudity, gore, foul language, and potentially disturbing scenes, save this one for older teens and above.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 9.18.17
Star rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: Action Sci-Fi, Action Fantasy, Comic Books and Superheroes, Action & Adventure, Action

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Monday, October 9, 2017

Movie review: IT

 
 In this reboot of the original film, based on the Stephen King novel, the children of Derry Maine are disappearing. But when a small group of friends discover Pennywise the evil clown may be behind it all they set out to eliminate him.

Jaeden Lieberher (Bill), Jeremy Taylor (Ben), Sophia Lillis (Beverly), Finn Wolfhard (Richie), Chosen Jacobs (Mike), Jack Grazer (Eddie), Wyatt Oleff (Stanley), Bill Skarsgard (Pennywise), Nicholas Hamilton (Henry).

Being a King fan, I was looking forward to this film. This second version of IT spends a lot more time exploring the band of children known as The Loser's and their relationship to one another, along with that of Pennywise. Surprisingly this version includes more from the book than the original, yet leaves out a few scenes such as a famous intimate moment The Loser's share. My only disappointment was that this film is only Part 1 of the novel, leaving The Loser's story as adults for the next installment.

Acting was good with Lieberher doing a decent job as bill. Taylor was a perfect Ben and quite enjoyable. Lillis, feeling more mature than her age as appropriate for her character, was wonderful. Wolfhard also fit his role nicely and, like the rest of the cast, was solid and enjoyable.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds were good, but Pennywise costuming and CGI stole the show. Skarsgard 's makeup was spot-on throughout and in combination with CGI, Pennywise came terrifyingly to life. Effects in other parts of the film, and action scenes, were nicely done. Dialogue was solid but we did miss some of the frequent lines used in the book. Soundtrack was happily dark and modern.

Fans of the book IT should enjoy this, as should those who enjoyed the first film. Again, be aware this is only Part 1 of the book. And if you haven't read the book yet, think seriously about doing so before seeing the film.

With some mild sexuality, violence, gore, foul language, and intense horror with a clown, save this one for the oldest teens and above.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 9.14.17
Star rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: Horror, Supernatural Horror, Movies based on the book, Adventure, Drama

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

Friday, October 6, 2017

Movie review: Kong: Skull Island

 
 On a mission to survey a remote Pacific island, a team of scientists are unaware they have invaded the home of the last giant ape, King Kong. But when Kong interprets their presence as a threat the expedition turns into a fight to survive.

Tom Hiddleston (Conrad), Samuel L. Jackson (Packard), Brie Larson (Mason), John C.Reilly (Marlow), John Goodman (Bill), Corey Hawkins (Houston), John Ortiz (Nieves), Tian Jing (San), Toby Kebbell (Chapman/Kong).

Using resources from the winding down Vietnam war, a group of scientists is sent to map a new found island. Instead they find an ecosystem that never matured with the rest of the planet. Kong: Skull Island is on the surface simply another retelling of the now classic story. But as the storyline develops we find Kong may not be the brutal monster we thought. Things move along at a nice pace, and imparting Kong with a bit more humanity while retaining his wild side is a nice approach to the story.

Acting was good with Jackson delivering with good intensity and fit for his role. Hiddleston was solid and obviously enjoyed working alongside Larson, who delivered nicely despite her interaction with Kong being less than expected. Reilly was a nice addition and lightened things up with his role. Goodman was enjoyable, as was the remainder of the supporting cast.

Camera work, sets, and backgrounds blended well with CGI and were all nicely done. CGI and effects were big in this film, and very nicely done throughout. Dialogue was enjoyable and moved things along well. Sound and soundtrack were good.

Overall Kong: Skull Island is a very enjoyable film with nice depth, action, and a good pace. Those who enjoy the story of King Kong should enjoy this one.

With a fair amount of violence including ripped and flying bodies, blood and gore, and foul language, this should be fine for teens and above.

Released: 2017
Reviewed: 8.31.17
Star rating: 4 out of 5
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Action Sci-Fi

copyright ©2017 Dave Riedel

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