My Week in Movies – December 17th

Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation

On one hand, I’m disappointed I didn’t catch Rogue Nation in theaters. On the other, I’m happy I saw Spectre first because I’m sure my review of it would have been less favorable. In the fifth installment, a US security committee determines the Impossible Missions Force to be obsolete. Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is on the trail of The Syndicate, an organization modeled on the IMF but with cross purposes. The film follows Hunt as he evades Director Hunley (Alec Baldwin), with the help of Benji (Simon Pegg) and Brandt (Jeremy Renner), to root out the Syndicate.

It’s a fantastic action thriller. But if you only see one spy movie, go see The Man from U.N.C.L.E. But if you see two, watch Rogue Nation.

Terminator Genisys

Another in-universe reboot, Terminator Genisys brings the franchise back from the depths. As always, John Connor (Jason Clarke) send Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) back in time to protect his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke). This time a T-1000 greets Reese at his arrival. Sarah and Pops rescue Reese and they try to adapt to the changes in the timeline. They travel forward to 2017 to stop Genisys, the proto-Skynet developed at Cyberdyne Systems in San Francisco. Genisys updates the franchise for a future of constant connectedness. The performances are good but the story is convoluted at times.

Trainwreck

Amy Schumer stars in Trainwreck, a movie about … well, a trainwreck of a woman. There is romance, comedy and drama but this film drags on far too long. Amy struggles with the imparted views of her father on commitment. Her younger sister is a model family first mother that raises her stepson as her own. Amy is the uncommitted half of a relationship but jokes made at Steven’s sexuality fall flat. Assigned to write an article on a sports surgeon, Amy dances with Dr. Conners through a one night stand to a relationship. Amy, and Dr. Conners, messes up a good thing. After alienating her sister following the death of their father, Amy realizes that she messed up a good thing and moves to win Dr. Conners back.

Trainwreck is a mess of a movie that drags on as it meanders through the various relationships of Amy, how she messes them up, realizes that she needs them and attempts to fix them.

Spy

The supporting cast in this movie drew me to it. The headlining actress deterred me. Jude Law, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Morena Baccarin and Melissa McCarthy. I’ve struggled to enjoy McCarthy in films like Identity Thief, The Heat and Tammy. But watching her in Gilmore Girls was an enjoyable experience this summer. She continues to grow on me and Spy might be the film that has brought her to the watchable level. McCarthy plays a support agent sent into the field after Law’s character is KIA trying to recover a nuke. The jokes and physical comedy are consistent and above average. Spy won’t rank high in the grand scheme of things but it’s a solid action comedy good for some laughs. I anxiously await Ghostbusters.

My Week in Movies – December 10th

The Good Dinosaur

The Good Dinosaur suffers from being a Pixar movie that debuted the same year as Inside Out. The animation is the best I’ve seen in a movie. Just like the first time I saw Incredibles and Elastagirl’s hair, the scenery in The Good Dinosaur is astounding. Unfortunately, this movie is otherwise a run of the mill Disney film. Arlo, the eponymous Good Dinosaur, is the runt of his siblings and seemingly fails at every task assigned to him. His father is killed in a very Mufasa-esque scene this time with rushing water instead of a herd of wildebeests. I’m really not sure why this movie had to take place in an alternate universe.

Watch It: If you want to see a solid animated movie.
Skip It: If you have young children, there’s no blood, but a decent amount of violence and scary moments.

Creed

In this episode of the Culture Conquistadors Podcast, Charles learns that James has never seen a Rocky movie. But this doesn’t discourage Charles, nor does it dampen James’s enjoyment of the latest entry of the Rocky series. How does Creed hold up to the other films in the series? Listen in and find out!

Context Sensitive Episode 3: Spy vs. Spies

This episode of the Context Sensitive podcast Рabout how every spy film in a great year of spy films was in conversation with 007 and his upcoming 24th feature, SPECTRE Рwas in the pipeline long before the Paris attacks. But those attacks radically transformed the context needed to think about Mr. Bond. This episode:

  • How the NSA shows up in mainstream entertainment
  • So many Bond themes
  • Melissa McCarthy showing the men (mostly Statham) how it’s done
  • Kingsman’s scathing class critique
  • Ilya Kuryakin and the demonized other
  • Bridge of Spies and the reality of spycraft
  • The wonders of Ilsa Faust
  • The murky waters of Sicario
  • A cameo appearance from HERCULES MULLIGAN!

My Week in Movies – December 3

Creed

A fantastic story with Rocky (Stallone) mentoring Creed’s child (Jordan). Donny fights his way through his childhood and eventually into the ring. The relationships and character growth in this movie a superb. I only wish the resolutions were cut so short to move the film into the final fight with Pretty Ricky Conlin. Otherwise a great movie even though I haven’t seen any of the other Rocky films.

Watch It: If you’re want to see an Oscar worthy performance from Stallone and a mostly fantastic screenplay.
Skip It: If you’re allergic to blood, but even then you can watch it.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Henry Cavil and Armie Hammer play American and Russian spies sent to help Alicia Vikander find her nuclear weapon scientist father. What a fun romp through Cold War Europe. The chemistry of the cast and the direction of the film are great. Not a top tier film for me but clearly a cut above.

Watch It: For a good water/oil team up action movie.
Skip It: If you’re looking for something more serious.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY (2014)

A movie I skipped in theaters last year, this turned out to be a very enjoyable family friendly film. It can be tough to adapt children stories into screenplays but this film does a good job of maintaining the message of the book. Every character in Alexander’s family gets a share of the bad day but they realize that family is what really matters.

Watch It: If you’re in the mood for a comedic family friendly film.
Skip It: If you can’t be bothered with a kid film.

Selfless

Ryan Reynolds is really solid in this movie that deals with death, immortality and immorality. He plays two characters, the first has sold his body (and thus his life) to a corporation in exchange for treatment for his sick daughter. The second character is the transferred consciousness of Ben Kingsley a dying real estate mogul. The movie focuses on the cost and morality of exchanging someone else’s life for your own.

Watch It: If you want to watch a good thriller with an interesting theme.
Skip It: If you dislike Ryan Reynolds.

Mockingjay Part 2

In this episode of the Culture Conquistadors Podcast, Charles and James revisit the Hunger Games series one last time. Did the series close on a high note? Or was it another box office letdown? Does anyone get a happy ending? Listen in and hear their thoughts on Mockingjay Part 2.

Mockingjay Preview

In this episode of the Culture Conquistadors Podcast, Charles and James return to preview the last installment of The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay Part 2. The series started off a bit shaky but found it’s footing in Catching Fire. Can it maintain it’s careful balance between war story and political commentary? We ask these questions and more.

Spectre

In this episode of the Culture Conquistadors Podcast, Charles and James return to discuss their review of the latest Daniel Craig/Sam Mendes Bond film, Spectre. How did their predictions from their preview episode hold up? Is this the end of the line for Craig as Bond? Listen in and find out!

My Week in Movies – November 12th

Black Sea

What a movie and a great role for Jude Law. He’s such a fantastic actor. In fact, this movie is great and that is 100% based on his performance. Law plays a salvager who’s fired from his job who aims for one last dive. He gathers his crew and some resources and dives down into the depths. Law’s Captain Robinson must struggle to retain control over himself and his divided crew as they hope to take a stash of gold from under the Russian fleet.

Watch It: If you like Jude Law or a great adventure flick.
Skip It: If the depths and darkness of the ocean are too overwhelming.

Mad Max: Fury Road

So, yeah. This movie was absolutely fantastic. The only dissonance? Why isn’t this movie called Imperator Furiosa instead? Because this movie certainly wasn’t about Max at all.1 Tom Hardy was good in his limited role, but Charlize Theron was absolutely magnificent.

Watch It: If you want to see one of the best characters this year.
Skip It: You shouldn’t. But if you need a reason it’s because this movie isn’t about Max at all.

Spectre

Another Bond film, another solid action flick. Craig and Mendes team up to wrap up Craig’s time as Bond. Spectre introduces the organization that opposes Bond at every turn and peels back the layers on his recent experiences tying them all together. I remember loving Casino Royale, enjoying Quantum of Solace, and raving about Skyfall. I figure Spectre will slot in above Quantum but behind the other two.

Watch It: How can I not recommend a Craig Bond film. He’s been incredible every time.
Skip It: There are plenty of Bond films to skip. This isn’t one of them.


  1. Granted, I must admit I’ve never even watched any of the other Mad Max films. 

Spectre Preview

In this episode of the Culture Conquistadors Podcast, James and Charles try something new as they return to discuss SPECTRE. This episode is spoiler-free as they preview the movie and discuss the buzz surrounding the movie and setting up their own expectations.