Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens

Bill I’s Review – 4.5 out of 5

By now all of you have already seen this film so you don’t need to read how good it is, how JJ Abrams (and my old friend Maryann Brandon as outstanding editor!) has invigorated this franchise with excitement, thrilling action, cool characters (both old and new), while retaining the spirit and continuity of Star Wars, advancing the plot in interesting areas and shocking outcomes. Instead of continuing to extol the great aspects, I’ll bring up one pet peeve which is the fact that action unfolds in one area of remote space (the HQ of the Empire, aka the First Order) while the Resistance (the good guys) monitor them from I can only assume light years away. I can choose to believe that they’ve figured out how to use worm holes to travel such vast distances in space, but how would they get communications on essentially a real-time basis (e.g. “their weapon will be fully charged in 15 minutes!”)? Oh well, fun time anyway!

Creed

Bill I’s Rating – 4 out of 5

Michael B. Jordan plays (no spoiler) Apollo Creed’s son, who is intent on following in his champion dad’s boxing gloves, and in fact seeks out who else to be his trainer and mentor, but Rocky, the one and only. Sly Stallone is perfect and actually great in reprising his character gone mellow and a little fatalistic. Young Creed serves to bring life back into the old man, while of course helping his nascent career rocket from nowhere to a championship fight. Does it matter if he wins? This film is appropriate for all ages, at least from 12 years old and up I think. Some of the plot is a little contrived (is there a supportive mother, a young beautiful love interest with some drama, a life or death moment? yeah, so what!). This franchise ain’t done yet!

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

I’d like to see Jake Gyllenhaal from Southpaw and Michael B. Jordan fight in Creed 2 (I’m also curious to see if they can maintain their buff’ness for 2 movies).  Creed edges out Southpaw as best fight movie of the year.

The fight  scenes were terrific (although as in all fight movies if this were a real fight it would have been stopped by the second round).  The film was pretty predictable (except they didn’t figure out  a way for Rocky to yell ‘Yo, Adrian’) and the filmmaker was able to get you rooting for Creed the whole way.  Michael B. Jordan was excellent .  He and the director also made Fruitvale Station together (which is also worth checking out) . Stallone was also excellent.  My only complaints were the predictability and how depressing it is watching Stallone get old since I started rooting for him while he was a young contender!  If you like fight films check this out.

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes

The Big Short

Bill I’s Rating – 4.5 out of 5

Excellent, thriller believe it or not, even though the ending is not in doubt, i.e. the housing market collapses, some banks go under and others need to be bailed out, and many people lose huge percentages of their net worth. This is all based on real-life people and events (it’s based on Michael Lewis’ book), although officially a work of fiction. The director deploys cool techniques to educate the audience on what exactly are these “exotic” financial instruments that the banks created to profit on housing bonds, meanwhile exposing them to exponential risks, while some outsiders figure out how to profit on their prediction of a bursting bubble. Have fun when you watch how they explain this in simple terms. Realize after you see this movie that nothing essentially has changed that would prevent such a financial collapse from happening again, and these “too big to fail” mega firms from having to get bailed out by taxpayers once again.

Bill C’s Review – 4.5 out of 5

Not only is this a really entertaining movie, it’s an important movie that tells a story that we seem to have already forgotten and not learned from.

Director Adam McKay, mostly know as comedy director and his collaborations with Will Ferrell, surprises with his ability to clearly inform on a complex subject while throwing in non-traditional touches (I loved his photo montages) to draw us into the movie.  He gets great and quirky performances from Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrell and others.

As Bill says, ultimately this movie tells a sad/scary story that unfortunately could happen again. It makes you mad.

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes