Tom and Jerry ⭐️⭐️½

Tom and Jerry – PG – 1 hr 41 min
NO SPOILERS Movie Review
Watched in theater Friday February 26, 2021
AMC Lakewood Mall 12 – Lakewood, Washington
8th new movie seen in theater in 2021

Tomcat rides into town on a train and then runs into Kayla (Chloe Grace Moretz) on her bike. Kayla is heading to a job interview at a hotel and decides to steal the resume of a much more qualified applicant. She gets the job and is soon tasked with helping the hotel rid itself of Jerry Mouse so VIP guests Ben and Preeta have their wedding go off without problems. Only, with Tom and Jerry fighting everywhere, that will be no easy task.

Tom and Jerry are like the Road Runner and Wyle E. Coyote cat and mouse combatants. Tom forever wants to catch the much smarter mouse, Jerry. This is one of those live action for everything except animals that are all animated. This is a bit distracting at first, but we get used to it. Also, outputting for me was neither Tom or Jerry speaking, while other animals speak. And then Tom sings at one point? What?

The central wedding story was cliched and tiresome. It was there simply as a vehicle so we could see Tom and Jerry complicate the proceedings. Michael Pena’s character Terrence Mendoza was the hotel’s one-dimensional conniving event manager. His accent seemed forced and phony to me.

Despite a rather large audience, nobody was laughing or even chuckling in the theater. We talked in our just left the theater video that the movie was a little too old for children and too juvenile for adults. It’s in the middle where movies without audiences go to die.

It’s not a bad or good movie. It’s just … there. It’s the type of film families want to take their kids out of the house to see — despite being available on HBO Max — but like noticed upon leaving the fairly decent-sized audience, there were people at the back of the theater on their cell phones. Yeah, that about it sums up the interest.

I hope Space Jam with Lebron James is (a lot) better than this!

Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐️⭐️½ (Todd) ⭐️⭐️½ (Kara)

Nomadland ⭐️⭐️½

Nomadland – R – 1 hr 48 min – IMAX
NO SPOILERS Movie Review
Watched in theater Tuesday February 23, 2021
AMC Kent Station 14 – Kent, Washington
7th new movie seen in theater in 2021 (1st IMAX)

Fern’s husband of 30+ years dies of cancer. Then Empire falls, the only small Nevada town they have known and loved, a victim of a defunct sheetrock business that kept the town alive. Fern now decides to wander the countryside, living the nomad’s life.

The first half of this movie is very slow. To the point that I kept thinking of an alternate film title “Nostoryland” Alas, it’s more of a deep character study than a typical film with a plot and much excitement happening. Things do happen to Fern, but they are on a more subtle level. We see her involvement as an Amazon seasonal worker, for example. We see her meet a roaming nomad group. We see people “down the road” as the nomad saying goes.

We saw this in IMAX, it was our first movie in this format in 2021 and first since seeing Tenet, I believe. At first it didn’t seem like this was a movie that IMAX treatment would benefit, but the gorgeous cinematography and crisp three dimensional sound made us feel at times that we were traveling the countryside living the life of a nomad, too. Various places Fern makes a sojourn, we also visit. The IMAX experience is quite effective.

The second half of the movie felt almost like a different story. Much more happens, conflicts develop and other characters enter Fern’s life in a way that reshapes her actions and movements.

This is also available for streaming on Hulu,. We saw it first all the way through in the theater, but I started to watch it on Hulu and didn’t get into it. As we watched this I was reminded why the movie theater experience is better suited for these type of films, the ones where you don’t really know what to expect and just let go from distractions and let what is on the gigantic screen soak in.

Watch us leave the theater and our raw comments about the film below. Non-spoiler..

In the end, this movie was a mixed experience. If you’re planning to see it and the IMAX experience is available, that is vastly superior to watching it on Hulu, but that isn’t a recommendation. I wish the first part was shorter, yielding to the much better second part. Kara felt stronger about this one than me. You can hear her specific remarks on the video, which surprised me.

If you’re looking for a mesmerizing story, that’s not here, but if you want to experience a little bit of what it’s like just getting in a van and traveling from place to place, meeting new people, seeing picturesque places, then this might be of interest.

Oscar bait? Absolutely. Kara was entertained and at times I was too, but it was more the visuals than the story. As a character study, it’s too lethargic and feels a bit aimless and depressing. And yet there is a freshness to it, like the smell of nature when you first wake up outside vs. being cooped up inside a home in the city. Still, I wanted Fern to settle down somewhere, and that was the underlying draw: could she? Nomads just keep traveling down the road.

Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐️⭐️½ (Todd) ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Kara)

Fatale ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Fatale – R – 1 hr 42 min
NO SPOILERS Movie Review
Watched in theater Wednesday February 17, 2021
AMC Lakewood 12 – Lakewood, Washington
6th new movie seen in theater in 2021

Derrick Tyler (Michael Ealy) feeling like his marriage is getting stale tries to get the spark back with his real estate wife (Damaris Lewis). She encourages him to go to Vegas for a bachelor party. Reluctantly, he agrees only to cheat on her with an enigmatic, sexy woman named Valerie Quinlan (Hilary Swank) he meets at a bar.

The next morning, Derrick heads home, trying again to get his marriage back on track. All seems well until a home invasion turns violent. Derrick gets into a violent struggle with a masked intruder. The investigator, turns out to be none other than Valerie Quinlan. And now the real tension begins.

Loved the setup for this film, which creates multiple flawed characters. From there the plot twists and turns and there is the early surprise and revelation that creates a ton of tension. Then it sort of goes off the rails a bit, soon stretching credibility. The middle act I didn’t care as much for, but then the third act pulls a lot of it back together and it ends wrapping it all up.

Acting is good, particularly Swank as an recovering alcoholic character that wants desperately to reunite with her son and appears on the edge of sanity. Her detective skills are strong, but her personal choices have compromised her abilities. It’s a deeper character and one that Swank pulls off well. She’s really good in this, despite a script which goes too far in some areas, making her character seem a little cartoonish at times.

The main character has many flaws but his actions also are suspect at times. It begins with his cheating, which was cleverly woven into the plot, but his reaction when he finds out what his wife has been up to is a bit puzzling and hypocritical. Sure, it’s plausible, but it makes his character much less sympathetic to viewers.

The final important character is Derrick’s business partner. We don’t get to know enough about him for his important involvement in the story. His character comes across more as a plot device than a logical progression to the story.

Sound effects were good, but the scoring was somewhat unremarkable. There are places more music could have been used effectively where instead there is just empty silence. The cinematography is average. Nothing elaborate or unusual camera-wise, which might have added a little more style to the pic and enhanced some of the middle act scenes which weren’t as thrilling as the opening scenes.

We both liked this one. It kept our interest and had us talking as we left the theater, see our reaction in the video below.

A gutty, gritty (at times) thriller that shows off Swank’s versatility, but is marred by a few eyeroll moments in the plot. The pacing lags a bit in the middle, but overall is decent. We both found this to be one of the better movies that can still be seen in some theaters and is widely available on VOD. You might want to give this a look when it shows up on streaming, but we’re not recommending otherwise.

Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Todd) ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ (Kara)

News Of The World ⭐️⭐️

News Of The World – PG-13 – 1 hr 58 min
NO SPOILERS Movie Review
Watched in theater Monday February 15, 2021
AMC Lakewood 12 – Lakewood, Washington
5th new movie seen in theater in 2021

Tom Hanks plays Captain. Kidd, a walking, talking Google News of the 1870s. He travels from town to town reading newspapers to groups of people. After one of his news readings, he runs into a hanged black man in the woods and a young, scared girl left alone.

He takes the girl who speaks a foreign language into town, along with her papers, trying to figure out the plan. He learns from the officials that he must wait three months for the emissary to return and “pick up the strays.” He thinks about waiting it out and then ultimately decides he’ll take her to family some 400 miles away through unfriendly territory.

This is one of those stories about a trip from one place to another with obstacles thrown at the main characters along the way. These range from violent dust storms, to conflicts to a pedophile cowboy and his clan to a town fixated around one dominant owner.

Through it all, we’re reminded that if it wasn’t for Tom Hanks, this movie would be kind of predictable and boring. As stated in our video below, it’s almost like the screenwriter just threw ideas at the wall until somebody said, “hey, that might be cool to do”

Originally released in theaters on Christmas day, we finally had a chance to see this in theaters this week. Underwhelmed by the story, but it was a different period piece than Hanks normally does anyway. He is playing the same good guy with almost zero flaws character. Last time I saw him, he was in Greyhound and before that Mister Rogers. This role isn’t stretching Hanks very far from his familiar zone, but it’s something to see him in the wild, wild west.

The ending is one of the better parts. If you can hold out that long through the adventure, there is a worthwhile payoff. Sadly, we have to wait this long to learn more about Captain Kidd to take him out of being a fairly one-dimensional character. The rest of the movie has suspect pacing, a mostly forgettable score and a few WTF moments. The dust scene where they need a horse and the girl just gets them one induces an immediate eyeroll.

Kara didn’t agree with me about Tom Hanks making this movie more entertaining. If it had been a lesser actor, I’d have rated this at least a half star lower.

Even so, neither of us were that thrilled with this one. These remain challenging times for new movies in theaters. Not recommended.

Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐️⭐️ (Todd) ⭐️⭐️ (Kara)

The Mauritanian ⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Marksman – R – 2 hr 9 min
NO SPOILERS Movie Review
Watched in theater Thursday February 11, 2021
AMC Kent Station 14 – Kent, Washington
4th new movie seen in theater in 2021

Following the events of 9/11, a man from Mauritania, Mohamedou Ould Salahi (Tahir Rahim) is forcefully taken from his home by authorities for questioning. The United States government is suspicious that he is guilty of working with Osama Bin Laden and helping to assemble the team of terrorists that flew the planes on that nightmarish day in American history in 2001.

Defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) takes on a habeas corpus case involving the man imprisoned at Gitmo for years without being charged for a crime. Nancy must follow her faith and experience in learning the truth and innocence or guiltiness of the imprisoned man. Legally, she squares off against a military prosecutor, Lt. Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberland) who is tasked with bringing charges against the man. Both will have their assigned legal challenges tested, as well as their personal and professional integrity. Is it enough to follow your job duties on faith or is it about learning what really happened with Salahi?

At first I thought this might turn into a legal thriller, sort of like something John Grisham might have penned. The first words on the screen are: this is a true story. Based on a book written by Salahi, who was detained and interrogated at Gitmo many years without having a formal charge brought against him. The movie literally goes in chronological order from when Hollander and Couch take Salahi’s case. Couch is ordered to take it and Hollander chooses it as a pro bono project. Her firm is against taking on anything involving 9/11 but she is insistent. Couch is equally consistent to prosecute a guilty man.

This is not a legal thriller, it’s clearly a drama. It’s a long, drawn out exercise of Salahi’s report of his innocence and treatment at Gitmo through a series of letters he writes Hollander. If you question how can letters being written and going through the government machinations can be on screen compelling, you’re dead on. In some parts, it’s painstakingly slow, and yet there are glimmers of an entertaining legal drama unfolding.

It’s not that Salahi’s story is boring, it’s the way it is told that is problematic. I enjoyed that the direction is to question Salahi’s declared innocence from opposing angles, but wondered if it might have been more impactful if it took more of the framework of a Perry Mason court case than, well, what is presented herein.

My favorite parts of the movie are when Jodie Foster’s character, Nancy Hollander, meet Benedict Cumberland’s. These few scenes are dramatically intense, impactful and show skilled craftsmen at work. My appreciation and admiration of legal thrillers like Grisham’s A Time To A Kill, Pelican Brief and The Firm are what I hoped for in this film the more I watched.

Sadly, the subject matter isn’t presented with much interest. Too long and dry. It could have been executed with more zeal. I realize it’s based on a true story and maybe this is what really happened, but there is only so much drama that can be wrung from letters and legal wrangling over redacted government documents.

(does get points for the cat-faced mask wearing military soldier)

When we finally get to what happened at Gitmo to Salahi we’re exhausted. Maybe that’s the substory to what happened to him. The many years he spent detained, fighting for both his freedom and to simply know the specific crime(s) he was being charged?

It’s outrageous how any human beings could be treated, whether prisoners or the innocents flying aboard the 9/11 planes. It’s all too easy being reminded of the 9/11 horrors and how surreal that fateful day was in American history. There were many cries for vengeance for those responsible. Salahi was caught in the combines of a situation that was more about revenge than truth — at least from the government and military point of view. As viewers we watch to learn whether or not Salahi — guilty or innocent — deserved this treatment?

In the opening minutes of the movie, when Salahi is taken into police custody, we see him erase all the contacts in his cell phone. This suspicious act taints his alleged innocence throughout the movie. We question why an innocent man would take this suspicious act? It’s an enduring question that lingers throughout the movie. One of the most clever parts of the film, actually.

This September, it will be 20 years since 9/11. In our just left the theater movie, we briefly remembered where Kara and I were on that day: Las Vegas. On a personal level, it’s an event that will never be forgotten by Americans who witnessed that terrible sequence of events. So many loss of innocent lives for … what?

Those that read this site, know that we enjoy visiting that city. It was one of the strangest times to be in Vegas. The airports were immediately shut down, sealing off people who were scared and wondering if more attacks were coming. Seeing those images of planes flying into the towers on the news didn’t seem like something that could be possible in America, and yet it was. How does that happen? Who was responsible?

The movie United 93 takes a more visceral look at the days events, where this film is far removed from that type of frenetic narrative. The towers burning and people jumping to avoid being burned alive is never depicted. And yet those are the images that ran through my mind while measuring Salahi’s innocence or guilt. It’s that type of movie, that you watch until the end to find out: was he innocent or guilty of being involved in 9/11? Do we want him more to be punished or brought to justice?

It’s a truly fascinating question. Art should question us and this movie succeeds on that level.

Also, can we talk about Jodie Foster’s gray hair? The real life Nancy Hollander has gray hair, but there is something disquieting about seeing an elderly Jodie Foster. Why was I distracted by her hair? I’m not criticizing the film for this, it’s just an odd aside that when watching her physical appearance portrayed like, I was taken out of the film somewhat. I kept seeing Clarice Starling and thinking: where is Hannibal the Cannibal? Also, kind of made me want to rewatch Silence of the Lambs, a dramatically superior film.

We go to films to be entertained. One of us was entertained here, the other very much was not.

The ending, which won’t be spoiled, is disturbing but not having known or read any of Salahi’s story, feels too predictable. In America, we just keep going through a crazy political world where nothing really surprises or feels fresh. We just had an election where the sitting President is charged with encouraging an insurrection at our nation’s capitol. We’re divided politically instead of coming together for common sense solutions. This film is sort of an exclamation mark on what continues to happen in America.

Sure, this true story changed the lives of those directly involved, but it doesn’t go deep enough into the water. It dips toes here and there as the ocean tide rolls in, but we never dive full in on the outrageous treatment of the detainees. Why are we treating any detained people this way?

These are human beings and whether they are guilty or innocent, they should be treated not as unscrupulous enemy combatants, but as any of us would want to be treated. If someone is guilty of a crime, their case needs to be brought to trial in a reasonably fast amount of time and the facts deliberated. The true outrage here is how long this process took. It’s not months, it’s too many years. The system broke down.

The system always seems to break down. I’m saddened as an American that our system which is supposed to be one of the best in the world continues to appear — at times, anyway — so hopelessly broken.

Unfortunately, this film commits too many time-based sins. It tells a story in a way that just isn’t as compelling as it could have been given the source material. Then again, I kept asking myself driving home after the movie how it could have been done better? I think viewers needed some more of the brutality of 9/11 inserted. The filmmakers chose to keep that out and rely on a long, slow narrative. Peel away the onion layers with suspect pacing. The juxtaposition of the 9/11 images and painful memories with Salahi’s protested innocence would have kept the conflict of the tale more grounded in that darker human desire for vengeance.

Kara didn’t care for this movie at all. She almost fell asleep. I was more emotionally invested and found it entertaining enough, but see her point of view. We’ve both seen (much) better movies where someone is accused and viewers must determine if s/he is guilty or innocent.

This film has the added punch of the accused being detained for a long period of time without any criminal charge being filed. That should make this film more entertaining, not less, but the way it’s all delivered is like drinking a diet soda over the one with all the fatty, bad for you stuff. Give me the latter, sorry.

A much better movie is Presumed Innocent or even better, Shawshank Redemption. Sure, The Mauritanian is a true story, but it could have been told in a more interesting way. The combined, average rating from Kara and I is two stars, but I’m going with 3 stars because I think the subject matter is stronger than how it was portrayed in the film. That might not be a fair way to rate this movie, but it’s the one being used here.

For others that choose to watch this film, I’m curious if you got everything out of the story that the source material warranted? You can use the comments below, again, keeping in mind this is intended to be a spoiler-free review. I think we’d all agree whether the detainee is innocent or guilty, he should always be treated with decency. If found guilty for crimes, punishment can only then be assigned.

Truly disappointing that the script couldn’t be more concise and focus instead on the skilled acting talent involved to show us, instead of force feeding exposition. Not recommended.

Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Todd) ⭐️ (Kara)

The Marksman ⭐️⭐️½

The Marksman – PG-13 – 1 hr 47 min
NO SPOILERS Movie Review
Watched in theater Tuesday February 9, 2021
AMC Lakewood 12 – Lakewood, Washington
3rd new movie seen in theater in 2021

Jim is a grief-stricken rancher living on the Arizona-Mexico border. He is raising cattle, trying to use his rifle to keep wild animals from killing his livestock with his dog by his side.

Sarah (Katheryn Winnick), Jim’s stepdaughter, works in a lead position at border patrol and from time to time he will radio in “IA’s” (Illegal Aliens) attempting to cross. If one is hurt, he radios for a medic.

Jim is deep in debt and 90 days away from losing his ranch. A lonely widower who deeply misses his wife, he turns back to the loneliest of unforgivable friends: the bottle. Sarah shows up at the bar for comfort, taking Jim home and puts him to sleep on the couch.

One day a Mexican woman and her son, Miguel (Joe Perez), attempt an illegal crossing and the cartel — a shadowy drug organization — are hunting the two at the fenceline. Jim takes a stand with his rifle and kills the brother of one of the lead gang. The mother is fatally wounded in the standoff when the thugs start shooting. Jim narrowly escapes with the mother and son in his bullet-riddled truck, but the woman doesn’t make it. Her dying wish is to get her son to safe haven in another state. Instead, Jim turns in Miguel to border patrol and heads home.

And thus that becomes the conflict: does Jim go back and take the boy from border patrol, or let him enter the system, possibly returned to Mexico and ending up in the cartel’s clutches? Does Jim answer the mother’s request or let Miguel become a victim of the immigration system?

Liam Neeson might be getting up there in age, but he sure seems to be positioned as the pandemic action star by various movie studios. He gravitates toward — or casting agents find him for — character roles with this quiet, but deadly demeanor and we wait out the film for him to go off.

Despite Jim being a former marine, certainly equipped with some deadly hand to hand skills, he rarely uses them. The movie title aptly describes the only times we see his Marine training. We wait for a payoff that rarely delivers. We think it might, especially after multiple conflicts develop that should cause some sort of rage, but Jim keeps it together. Again and again. It’s boring watching Jim go to the bottle instead of his firearm. Jim, we want to see you snap!

Also, problematic are depths of characters portrayed. The bad guys are little more than cardboard inserts. We never understand completely their motivation. The lead bad guy is just another cliched bad drug guy. He was a soldier too at one time — or still is — but we never learn any more depth about him to comprehend why him and his team want Miguel back so badly. His brother being killed by Jim in the conflict at the border is strong revenge motivation, but we couldn’t help wondering why he had so much extra time to pursue Jim and the boy across the border?

Miguel at first seems like a scared, non-English speaking immigrant, but he does speak almost perfect English. He distrusts Jim and blames him for his mother’s death at the border. Will his character be drawn beyond this point? Will we understand through him why the cartel wants him back in Mexico so badly?

There is a scene at the very beginning of the movie which is supposed to explain the cartel’s motivations, but you’ll have to watch the movie to see if that’s enough story to explain why the rest of the movie exists. It is over so quickly in the beginning that it doesn’t really setup the oncoming events to the extent necessary. Maybe that could have been drawn out a bit more?. Why is the cartel so desperate to hunt down a fugitive mother, son, and rancher with a border patrol connection?

That’s the other problem with this film: logic. Why would the cartel want to stir up a border patrol conflict? Instead, it seems they would want to keep that connection in tact, so they could payoff the agents and get across whenever they want. Instead, they seem to think it’s just OK to start going all guns ablaze at a rancher that could cause ongoing issues for their smuggling and border violation efforts? Doesn’t make sense.

As mentioned in our video below, we were also concerned about the runtime. This drags in spots. It isn’t a complex enough story for 1 hour and 47 minutes. Even shaving another 15-20 minutes would have tightened this up. Come on, filmmakers, learn to tighten up your stories.

It’s essentially a chase and pursuit story with a goal to reach a destination before being killed by the bad guys, meanwhile the border patrol are trying to intervene. There are too many lengthy scenes that don’t add up to anything and missed conflict opportunities galore. Could this have had a lot more action? Yes.

Also, there are important characters introduced who don’t change the outcome of the story like Sarah, for example, who is setup as somebody close to Jim in a position of power and authority, someone that is there for him, but her role in the film is reduced to phone calls and brief interactions and one poignant scene. Was she just window dressing in the story?

The music is too much in the background. The sound isn’t bad, but it doesn’t really add to the film. The cinematography and direction is competent. Neeson is the only one really acting here, the rest of the characters might as well be robots with canned lines. The script is the downfall, but if there had been some standout other characters, Neeson aside, this film would be more entertaining.

Alas, we’re just left with a ship that goes out to sea and is tossed around by wave after gentle wave. The sea never gets that turbulent. The conflicts are there, but they are mostly peripheral. When we get to the ending, we don’t care nearly as much as we should. We’re never invested enough in the story. No investment from the audience if the goal is met or fails. Don’t care that much who lives or dies. If not for Neeson’s performance, he’s the skilled hand at work here, this movie would be much worse.

It does at times try, but like Jim the rancher’s underweight cattle that he tries to sell at one point, this film needs much more nourishment. Not recommended.

Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐️⭐️½ (Todd) ⭐️⭐️ (Kara)

Monster Hunter ⭐️⭐️½

Originally released in theaters Dec 25, 2020

Monster Hunter – PG-13 – 1 hr 43 min
NO SPOILERS Movie Review
Watched in theater Sunday February 7, 2021
AMC Lakewood 12 – Lakewood, Washington
2nd new movie seen in theater in 2021

A ship is under attack by a massive, angry sea creature during a violent storm. The beast tears through the boat and a man is thrown into the lightning and clutches sand.

Cut to the next scene and a female Army Ranger leads her group toward a lightning storm only to inexplicably be transported to a desert world. They forge ahead and see the prior unit, completely burned to blackened skeletons, spent shell casings, but no footprints or evidence in the sand of who or what took the trained military unit down.

Suddenly, another creature appears and drives the team into nearby caves where giant bug-sized monsters afraid of light await, ready to capture and kill (some of?) the team. It’s not long before the woman meets up with the man from the ship and they try to plot a plan of survival and monster killing to go back to the lightning storm in the distance and return home. In their path are huge monsters that will test their ultimate fighting skills.

The movie starts fast, frenetic and somewhat erratic and left me thinking of something Michael Bay might have directed. Fortunately, once the monster threats are uncovered, it lets off the throttle enough so we can figure out who the main characters are. Turns out, we saw them from the beginning and the central plotline forms. It’s a survivalist adventure story that starts out feeling like a little bit of Starship Troopers meets a Godzilla-like monster movie. It has a pulpy, yet warm feel and design running through it.

At first I wasn’t that thrilled with the story itself — it’s possible for a feature film to be too simplistic story — then I came to like the basic nature of it and warmed up a little. The creature design is good. That must be where most of the money went into this picture. The characters are so thinly drawn you’ll see right through them if you look too long. The dialogue, what little of it there is since one of the main characters barely speaks English, is about as empty as the characterization.

Music? Sort of a weird techno mashup that doesn’t really fit. The action is where everything lives and dies throughout this film. If you are all about action with almost zero exploration in characters, any sort of complex story arc or twisting narrative, you’ll find this film more welcoming. If, like me, you prefer to have flesh on the skeleton, this comes up embarrassingly short.

On a positive note, this movie succeeds well at one thing: it makes you want to play the videogame it was based on. I left the theater longing to slay monsters with primitive weapons. For a movie based on a videogame — a genre that is known for producing awful movies — making viewers want to play the spotlighted game is a good thing. Sony, makers of the Playstation, clearly know how to promote games. This aspect of the movie is solid and rewarding.

Had the movie offered a more definitive ending — and since this is spoiler free, going to be intentionally vague here — I’d have given this a little higher rating. If you want to talk about a blatant sequel play, well, we will save that discussion for later, but come on, be at least a little less obvious. Even so, a better ending wouldn’t have made this rating high enough to recommend because that requires some sort of compelling story that makes me feel something for the characters. When we aren’t able to get to know these characters beyond skin deep flesh wounds, that disappoints instead of entertains.

It’s the monster hunting equivalent of using your weapons on a creature and having little effect. Yeah, that actually happens in this movie — a lot. I mean, how many times can you shoot fire inside a creature and it doesn’t die? The audience can only take so much of that before we start thinking it’s all a little hopeless. I’ve heard the game is pretty difficult, too, but am intrigued to give it a try. That’s the most positive thing I can say about this film. In the crowded space of movies trying to capitalize on videogame IP, it’s somewhere between meh and O…K.

Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐️⭐️½ (Todd)

Promising Young Woman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Promising Young Woman – R – 1 hr 53 min
NO SPOILERS Movie Review
Watched in theater Thursday February 4, 2021
Century 16 Sante Fe Casino Station Las Vegas, Nevada
1st new movie seen in theater in 2021

Cassie (Carey Mulligan), a promising med student, drops out of school after the death of her friend and fellow student Nina. Cassie was traumatized by the sexual assault of Nina at a party with a bunch of students and plans to seek a very unique and unusual revenge to everybody who didn’t do anything.

Fogell/Mclovin(!) from Superbad (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) doing cocaine lines and trying to put the move on Cassie was strange, awkward and creepy — precisely the mood the scene was looking for. The entire movie is built from scenes like these, cleverly placing Cassie intentionally in compromising situations where she acts drunk and able to be preyed upon or is confronting those who stood by or actively participated in Nina’s assault.

The screenplay and Carey Mulligan’s performance are both outstanding. Mulligan milks every scene for the ick factor. We want her to enact a special type of revenge — and you have to watch the movie to understand what that is and how it works, because I don’t want to spoil it here. It’s an unconventional, fresh exploration of date rape, primarily from the victim’s perspective, which I found very refreshing, albeit uncomfortable plenty of times, to watch.

Didn’t expect this movie to be this strong, but it was one of the best new movies to come out in 2020, even though it was released at the end of the year. Kara, however, didn’t feel as strongly. You’ll have to watch the video below for more details on how she felt.

Also, it’s the first “leaving the movie theater review” that we weren’t able to record when we left the theater. Long story short, the theater was located inside the casino and we stuck around afterwards for quite some time at the casino, not allowing us to record the “just left theater” experience. We recorded our feelings two days later on Saturday.

Promising Young Woman is showing in scattered open theaters throughout the United States right now as well as on VOD (although we would say wait for the rental to go down to the $5-7 price. It was the first movie we watched in a theater in 2021, at the Sante Fe Station Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Hoping more movie watching theater experiences are like this in 2021. Off to a good start. Kara doesn’t recommend this, but I do.

Rating (out of 5 stars): ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Todd) ⭐️⭐️ (Kara)