Murder on the Orient Express

A classy investigation on a cool train. What more could I want? Let me say some stuff not about the movie first. One, I have not read the book. Yeah, yeah, I know. There’s a lot of stuff I haven’t read, though I do know about the ending already. Two, I am inclined to like this movie because I really enjoy a great train setting. You set a movie mostly on a train, especially an awesome one like the Orient Express, and I want to see it.

So how does this murder mystery stack up? It stars Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Piorot, famed detective. And I really liked him in the role. The movie starts off showing a bit about Hercule, both his intellect, deductive skill and his compulsive tendencies. It was cute and fun. Though Hercule does come off all-knowing at times. I think the issue is the movie length. There’s not enough time to show a proper investigation, so sometimes he says where he got his information in quick sentences and then moves on. I really liked watching Hercule work. He’s smart, but he’s not overly condenscending. Just a bit.

After that, the movie takes a bit before it gets to the actual murder part. I think the front of the movie was paced too slow and the back paced too fast. There are a lot of scenes setting up the other characters on board the Orient Express before we even get boarded. I think the only one that’s needed is Bouc’s. What we saw of everyone else really had little to do with their character later. We could have established them as Poirot was getting to know them for the investigation.

Then, later on in the movie, things sort of just start falling into place withou much changing. When I saw changing, I mean, it’s not like Poirot found a new awesome piece of evidence or did some super sleuthing. Things sort of just happened.

In between, though, that part was great. First off, the train is gorgeous to look at and really evokes a great feeling. From the exterior style to the interior fineries, it just sets up the mood so well. I want to go on a train like that someday.

Anyway, moving on from the train, the investigation and interview parts were really well done. The characters all felt good to watch on screen, though due to being so many of them, they didn’t stand out that much. Josh Gad did do a great job, though. That’s what I was talking about earlier, instead of random scenes of the passengers, we should get more of them on the train, where all of the important action is. But as a whole, they all worked well.

I liked the movie. It had great style with a protagonist that is smart without being too snarky. The time period gives everything a refined, elegant feel. They captured that part well. The beginning and end could use some pacing changes, but it’s a solid murder mystery.

I can’t comment on how obvious the answer was because I already knew it, so I knew what to watch for. But I enjoyed it all the same.

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Justice League

Justice League, the gathering of the greatest heroes in the DC Universe. I really had fun and enjoyed this movie. There are things I want to change and things that could be better, but overall, I liked it. The movie is more humerous and brighter than the other films, including Wonder Woman. It has more jokes and quips. For the most part, they work well.

In this film, Batman must gather the known heroes of the world to stop an impending invasion. The beginning starts a bit rough. It suffers from a similar problem to a lot of other DC movies in that it tries to do too much. This movie introduces the Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman. The beginning jumps around a lot between the members of the league, and not all that in a way that’s cohesive. Throw in some flashbacks and other scenes, and the first part of the movie is pretty choppy.

After the league comes together, though, it gets better and more focused. They must stop Steppenwolf, a conqueror from another world, and they must do it together. All members of the league has great interactions with each other. I liked Flash and Cyborg, Batman and Wonder Woman, and Aquaman making his remarks. They all work together really well and each one has a little story they go through. Batman’s and Wonder Woman’s are particularly important to the plot.

Unfortunately, Aquaman feels the most unfinished out of the plots. They mainly told us what drove him and why he’s helping out instead of showing it. He just seems to be there to fill out the members rather than being an important part of the team. If anyone needs their own movie before the Justice League, it’s him.

Steppenwold was pretty generic villain, though. He mostly said the same things, but he was threatening and had some cool fight scenes with the league. We know too little about him for him to be interesting, so he’s more of an action piece. The final action piece also showed off everyone really well. They all had a chance to shine and pull off some cool moves.

I liked the Flash. He’s the comic relief of the team, and I found him enjoyable. The others were also great to watch. Overall, I had a lot of fun in the movie. Could it have been better? Yeah. I’ll go into my thoughts on how to change things in the spoiler section.

Oh, here’s the spoiler section.

Superman is back and alive. I liked that his return is something actively sought out by the rest, in particular Batman. And the scene right after he comes back is awesome. My favorite part has to be Flash’s ‘Oh crap’ face when he realizes Superman can follow him while he’s in super speed.

Alright, so what would I change? Well, if I could change more than one movie, I would give Flash and Aquaman their own films first. Flash was alright in the movie. He went through some development from start to finish. Aquaman, though, I mentioned before, needed more development, something that didn’t have enough time in Justice League.

I would keep Cyborg’s introduction in Justice League, though, but have his origins be more shown. His origins are connected to the mother box, the important things the villain is trying to collect in the film! Why wouldn’t you want to show that entirely.

And start out the movie more with Batman being a detective and figuring out an invasion is happening. As it was in the movie, we start off towards the end of the investigation. It doesn’t properly ground Steppenwolf’s invasion at all.

Maybe open with the investigation. Mix in some Cyborg and the mother box. Get Diana’s story about Steppenwolf and the cool flashback scene. Then get the league together. I think that would work. Keep the tone of the movie.

The final action scene was fine if not a bit generic by this point. But the gathering of the heroes worked well, individually and as a group. The league is fun together.

Thor: Ragnarok

The third installment of the Thor movies. I enjoyed the first one. The second one is alright. The third one, they shook things up, big time. For one, Earth has almost no factor in here, which means no Jane, Darcy and the professor. I enjoyed Darcy a lot and am sad she’s not in the movie, but the new characters in Thor: Ragnarok are great.

This time around, the movie is a lot more similar in tone to Guardians of the Galaxy, both in terms of style, humor and setting. Thor doesn’t speak as bombastic and old-style as he did before. He’s also on a space adventure in an alien planet with space ship action.

The style really works for Thor. It’s coloful, wild and fun to watch. The action in the movie is fun and shows off just how powerful Thor can be. The new character of Valkyrie is a good addition. She’s rough and hurting from a past that causes her to drink too much, but she comes around to help Thor out.

Skurge I particularly enjoyed. Not sure why, but he’s my favorite new character. He’s not the standard henchmen for the bad guy, and I really liked seeing him change throughout the film.

The Grandmaster is pretty much Jeff Goldblum. I can see that if Jeff Goldblum became the dictator of a planet, it would be just like that. He’s enjoyable whenever he’s on screen.

Now, onto the main villain, Hela. She is cool and awesome. I think she’s a good villain and actually adds emotional context to previous Thor movies. I’m not going to say too much about her, but she is fun and threatening, what I want in a villain for this type of movie.

What suffers a bit is the pacing. I felt that things went too fast. None of the moments that should have impact had any because it moved by too fast. I’m not going to spoiler it, but I didn’t feel emotionally sad during the film despite sad things happening. And there are some things that happen that are supposed to be emotional, they just don’t land.

Thor Ragnarok is a joy the whole way through, though. And Skurge, man, he’s great. He might not seem that way through the film, but he’s great.

Some spoiler thoughts.

Well, not much of a spoiler due to trailers, but Hulk is in this! The relationship between Hulk and Thor is pretty good, and it’s different from the relationship between Hulk and Banner. Thor really hashes things out between both of them, and that part works well. It’s probably things they wanted to do for a Hulk movie, but as they aren’t doing Hulk movies, it fits in fine here.

Loki is always fun to watch and this film even more so. He’s not as threatening anymore, but I don’t mind.

Also, the Doctor Strange cameo is pretty fun. Wow, Doctor Strange has gotten boss since his movie.

Storks

Aww, this movie is adorable. And I really enjoyed it overall. They take the concept of storks doing deliveries, updates it for modern times and then runs with it. And by update, I don’t mean every stork is now a wisecracking meme machine. I mean like their business model. Babies are too much trouble. Deliver people’s packages instead with ruthless efficiency for maximum profits!

The film is about Junior, the stork most likely to be promoted to the next boss, and Tulip a human. Tulip was never delivered because they lost the address to her home, so she worked at the stork shipping center until she was 18 and could be legally kicked out. They accidentally create a new baby to deliver and need to do so in secret, otherwise Junior would lose out on his chance at being the boss.

What follows is a lot of zany adventures with an adorable baby. Junior and Tulip learn to work together and even like each other. Meanwhile, they are tailed by a pidgeon named Toady. Toady’s great in his own, really strange way. I’m not sure what exactly it is about him, but I really like his character.

And the wolves are also hilarious. They are a great part of the film.

The film hits all of the usual plot beats. The main characters start out not liking each other. They like each other. Something happens and then they don’t like each other again. But the film has a fun world, the characters are really animated and great to watch. The baby they’re delivering is a fun character, too. The emotional parts are just enough. It’s not on the level of animated greats, but it doesn’t fall flat, either.

Overall, this movie is fun, but it doesn’t push any boundaries of children’s film. Everything comes together really well, though. The different pieces of the film just fit together. I laughed several times during Storks.

Blade Runner 2049

This movie is the sequel to a classic science fiction film. The world is kinda crappy, kinda cool, like most movies about the future. Human’s have built super workers known as replicants. They’re made to be obedient and are much stronger than normal. They do all of the off-world work, where rich people are. The planet itself has mostly turned bad.

The Blade Runners are specialized police that hunt down rogue replicants, especially the older models that are not absolutely obedient. And in this movie, our main blade runner, K, makes a discovery about replicants that change the way people will see them.

I don’t think I’ll talk about the plot that much. It’s interesting, I feel, but less nuanced than the first movie. The plot also takes a long time to go places. This movie is long, and slow. Does it need to be that long? Nope. However, I was also engaged the entire time and always looked forwards to what’s going to happen next.

Also, this movie isn’t a action packed. There are a few scenes, but overall, it’s mostly talking and going places. The characters are all really intereting, but I hope you like Ryan Gosling. He plays K, the main character, and he is pretty much in every scene. Still, he plays his part well, and I really enjoyed watching him do his work.

The other characters are all interesting and great to watch as well. Joi is just to sweet and adorable. Luv has a great presence despite only working for the head of the replicant-making company. The other characters K meets along his investigation are all pretty interesting, despite only appearing for a short while. The movie knows how to make an impact with characters. I won’t talk about all of them as some of them are great to experience, but they are all engaging to watch and well-acted.

The plot is interesting and moves along at a slower pace. Things are tied together with wonderful shots of the world. It’s not always pretty, but it is gorgeous and amazing. This movie felt like it was taking me on a journey, even though the setting takes place around the same area most of the time. Unlike some movies that makes things too busy, loud or confusion, Blade Runner 2049 has clear shots. Most every shot is showing off something cool or amazing, but it doesn’t feel crowded. The shots are focused and crisp.

Blade Runner 2049 is really long and slow, but I enjoyed my time there. If you want an action science fiction movie, this is not it. There is some philosphical stuff, but the first movie had less clear heroes and villains. In this film, it’s pretty clear which side you’re supposed to root for.

The great scenery and characters make this film a joy to watch. The acting is great. The investigation is a good reason for K to go to all of these wonderful places. Still, it’s really long. I don’t know what I would want to cut out or make shorter. If they cut some scenes out without me ever seeing them, I doubt I would notice. But I did see them, and they’re all cool.

The Last Witch Hunter

The Last Witch Hunter is a modern day fantasy film starring Vin Diesel as the last witch hunter. I’m not sure why he’s the last. The group that trained him could train some more. But he’s the last. He also happens to he immortal due to the curse of the witch queen.

It’s an alright movie with some nice special effects. But the action scenes are a bit lacking. I think, overall, that the film is just half-baked. There’s not enough development going on to anything other than Kaulder, the witch hunter. Everything else just kind of is and nothing further is given to develop it. And that’s a problem.

There could be a rich, wonderful world behind Kaulder, but we never learn about it. We get some glimpses, such as a witch bar. And we know that most witches prefer to be left alone and won’t cause trouble. But that’s about it. What about the group Kaulder works for? What are they like? They don’t appear much at all.

And why was there an initial fight between people and witches? I mean, there’s the standard answer that people just don’t like them because they do dark magic, but it’s never brought up. The witch queen is just the witch queen and she doesn’t like that people are doing. That’s why they had to kill her.

Without much focus on the world, everything of interest lays on the shoulder of Kaulder. I will say he’s a fine main character. He has that Vin Diesel badass thing while also being kind and a lot more reasonable than most other characters in the film. It’s not enough to carry the entire film, though, but he works.

This is another fantasy film that could be better. I want something great to fulfill my enjoyment of fantasy. And I’m talking full magical fantasy, not some low-magic thing.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014 Film

Finally watched this one. I have wanted to see it for a while, since the second movie came out. I only got around to it now, though. I was never a huge TMNT fan. I knew them, of course, and saw the old cartoons and movies. But I would look forward to other old properties than the ninja turtles.

Being an older movie, I’ll probably just have spoiler thoughts right in the main part of the post. So be aware!

I did enjoy the film. April was really the main character. I don’t know if its a budget thing or a Michael Bay thing or some other thing that makes studios prefer to put human characters in front. The main characters should be the turtles, but everything about them is related through April.

Megan Fox as April was fine. I did like the way she was involved.¬†For the kind of enemies the ninja turtles fight, she could concievably help out. I also liked Will Arnett’s character. He was part of the movie just enough.

The film itself feels pretty simple, though. And the turtles are not given enough chances to show them grow. They do have character development, but it happens near the end of the movie and feels like it comes out of nowhere. I guess that’s the problem when we’re following April all the time.

I do like how each turtle has more individuality beyond just their weapons and mask colors. The turtles even have different body types, which is great. I did see one image that modified the turtles a bit to remove their nose. I think that would make them look much better.

The fight scenes in this movie are pretty fun, actually. They really take advantage of being mutant turtles to do things that normal people wouldn’t even try. I could also follow what was going on. The camera didn’t shake too much. It was good.

Talking about the bad guys of the movie, their plan seems ill thought out. Shredder looked pretty awesome and menacing. And I really liked his arm blades. Still, Shredder was barely a character. He was more of some evil wall that the main characters needed to get over to reach their goal.

I had fun with the movie. Leonardo, Raphael, Michaelangelo, and Donatello was fun to watch. They had some nice interactions with April and Will Arnett’s character. And they had some great fight scenes. The movie is let down by the bad guys and the lack of development for the turtles.