We've seen some new movies, and rented others for pizza nights. I'll start with the rentals.
Jack Ryan, Shadow Recruit: Okay, I don't like Chris Pine much. Anyone who would presume to be Captain James T. Kirk, who isn't named William Shatner, is on my bad side before he opens his mouth. But I respect Kenneth Branagh, and he produced this and plays the major bad guy in it also. Kevin Costner is the CIA contact, and Keira Knightley is the wife. All do a good job with their roles. Pine is a graduate-student-accounting-whiz who volunteers for active duty after 911. He's shot down and needs a long time in rehab, where he meets an aspiring doctor, Knightley. They begin a romance after he's recovered, and a few years later are living together, only she won't marry him yet, which means he can't tell her he's CIA. So when he gets sent to Moscow and all hell breaks loose for this glorified accountant, she drops in to surprise him. The action is pretty relentless from then on. Good spy movie. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Pulling Strings: A great rom-com starring mostly unknowns, in a story about the love that grows between a widowed father who plays in a Mariachi band, and an itinerant USA government employee who has grown to love Mexico City and its people while she's been stationed there. I wrote a full review for this movie on the Sweet'N'Sexy Divas blog where I post the 16th of every month: sweetnsexydivas.blogspot.com/
Trust me, this one is a great inter-racial romance that will make you laugh, then you'll tear up in other scenes. 4 out of 5 stars.
Hey, what gives? I thought you only like big action flicks! Never fear, for my next review is of:
Transformers: Age of Extinction: Big, dumb fun. Mark Wahlberg stars as a widowed engineer trying to raise his teen-aged daughter right. Mercifully it's not Megan Fox, though being a fan-boy flick there are still plenty of unnecessary shots up the back of the new heroine's legs while she's wearing Daisy Duke cut-offs so short that her pockets hang out in the front. The plot doesn't need to be discussed. I enjoyed it because: dinosaur Transformers! T-Rex! Pterodactyls! Triceratops! All unnecessary but way cool to watch. If that piques your interest, this movie is for you.
3 out of 5 stars.
And my vote for the best movie of the summer? Any other movie would have to be pretty damn good to beat:
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes! I had read some good reviews so my expectations were high. This movie delivered on all levels. Starting out slowly, it recaps the end of the previous movie, where a simian flu is inadvertently introduced into the world, against which apes are immune, but many humans will die. The apes, led by Caesar, have built themselves a home, with a solid community and family life. The virus gave them all extra brain power, and they all use sign language to communicate, though some are able to vocalize, like Caesar does occasionally. They figure humans have been wiped out. Then a chance encounter lets them know that's not so.
There is much to think about in this movie, not the least of which is that humans (and apes) have the tendency to think of those like them as being the good guys, and only others as the bad guys. But anyone, human and simian, can be a bad guy, if they believe in their cause. Some on both sides seek peace between the two species, but some on both sides want war. And war is what they get, because violence is always the easier answer. Sitting down with the other side and negotiating as equals is so much more work, and requires examining one's own prejudices.
Sound preachy? Not in this movie! You are forced to see similarities between the fictional story in front of you, and the news you read/heard today from all corners of our planet. You can despair, or you can resolve to be one of the peacemakers. But be careful because the peacemakers are in danger from both sides.
Great special effects. The simians are very realistically portrayed, and in particular, Andy Serkis is the best actor around whose face no one knows. He's been King King, Gollum, and now Caesar. He deserves his own Oscar category and award! 5 out of 5 stars.
How about you? Have you seen any good movies lately? Rentals or at the theater? Please share!