The Greatest Showman Movie Review

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Hugh Jackman stars in The Greatest Showman as P.T. Barnum, the man who starts the circus now known as the Ringling Bros Barnum and Bailey Circus.

As Barnum sets up his circus he must contend with bigotry and family drama that threatens to upset his career and his marriage.

The plot of the movie is fairly predictable for a musical and even more so given the source material. It comes as no surprise that Barnum’s circus is successful.

The weak plot leaves the enjoyment of the movie not in the story but in the storytelling. How good are the songs, the dances, the costumes, and the acting?

Simple answer, marvelous! I loved The Greatest Showman! Continue reading

Pirates: Dead Men Tell No Tales Movie Review

Pirates Dead Men Tell No Tales

The next in a series of some of my favorite movies, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. What a mouthful.

It’s impossible to think about the new Pirates movie without comparing it to the previous ones. Does it have the novelty of Pirates 1? Does it have the thrilling action sequences of Pirates 2 and 3? Did it feel a little off like Pirates 4?

Good news! Pirates 5 feels most like a return to the characters and plot of Pirates 1 to me with bits of Pirates 2 thrown in. This will probably be good news to most of the long-time fans of the series.

Jack is once again being hunted by a monstrous force from the uncharted waters of the ocean. This time instead of a ship of dead fish people, its a ship of dead ghost people led by ghost Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem). Continue reading

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman

I saw Wonder Woman with some friends. It was a good superhero movie, but I feel as if I’ve grown away from the genre despite still enjoying it in theory.

The movie stars Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman and Chris Pine as her sidekick WW1 soldier.

Wonder Woman is, as far as I could tell, never referred to as Wonder Woman in the movie. Everyone calls her by her name, Diana, hearkening back to the virgin, Roman goddess of the hunt that inspired her creation. Continue reading

Everything, Everything Movie Review

Everything Everything

Everything, Everything is an unusual teen romance starring Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson.

Stenberg plays Maddy, an eighteen year-old afflicted with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). It’s a condition similar to AIDS in which she has a severely weakened immune system. Relatively common diseases, like the flu, can kill her.

Maddy lives her entire life inside her hermetically sealed home. Her mother is a doctor and she ensures that Maddy stays healthy and as happy as possible.

Everything is fine, if a little boring, until the cute, goth boy moves in next door! Robinson plays Olly, Maddy’s love interest. Continue reading

On Killing Book Review

On Killing

I finished Lt. Col Dave Grossman’s book On Killing recently. It’s about soldiers’ resistance to kill, how the military overcomes that instinct, and the larger reprecussions of that type of training on society. It is not a “how-to” book as I feared many people might’ve thought whenever I read it in public.

At the start I should say that Grossman presents a good case. He backs it up with hundreds of interviews with soldiers and his personal impressions from being in the service. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a lot of hard data to support his point. Why? Because for the most part there just haven’t been a lot of studies on how to get someone to kill another person. It ranges into the unethical territory of psychological studies. The data he does have is convincing. Continue reading

David and Goliath Book Review

David&Goliath

I recently finished listening to an audiobook version of Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath. The nonfiction piece focuses on how being an underdog can occasionally confer advantages that the “overdog” doesn’t expect.

The book uses a wide-range of examples of underdogs overcoming their disadvantages and actually using them as jumping off points to topple bigger and stronger opponents.

This isn’t a new idea to me or the world. Scholars were peddling this theory at least 1,500 years ago when the Roman Empire fell. I first read about it in Frank Herbert’s science fiction masterpiece, Dune, where the fictional race of Freman are hardened by their desert homeland and are able to overcome the forces of the Padishah Emperor. Continue reading

Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast

Disney’s latest live-action remake, Beauty and the Beast, is out and I’ve seen it.

The movie is very much a remake of the 1991 animated movie. The plot, the songs, the characters, all pretty much the same.

For those who aren’t familiar with the story (really though?) Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a cruel prince who is cursed by an enchantress. Continue reading

Going In Style Movie Review

Going In Style

I saw Going In Style, the latest age-based comedy, and it wasn’t bad. Wasn’t great either though.

The comedy is about three guys, Joe, Bill, and Al, played by Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin respectively, whose pension funds are cut by the bank that bought the steel factory they used to work for.

Struggling to pay their bills and angry at the bank, they decide to rob it to get back at the entity that screwed them over. They hope to use the money to enjoy their old age by spending it with their families instead of restarting their careers.

There’s a few jokes, but I wouldn’t exactly call the movie a comedy, more like a heist movie that’s masquerading as a comedy. Continue reading

The Shack Movie Review

The Shack

I saw The Shack with my wife. We were expecting a spiritual journey movie like Field of Dreams or Peaceful Warrior. We got something far more overtly Christian than that.

The Shack stars Sam Worthington as Mack, a father who’s young daughter, Missy, is kidnapped and murdered. The tragedy ruins the lives of him and his family as they are consumed by depression.

Mack receives a note inviting him to spend the weekend at the eponymous shack where his daughter was murdered. The note is signed “Papa,” which is his family’s nickname for God.

Mack goes, half expecting the murderer to be there, but instead he finds that the note was actually delivered to him by God. Waiting at the shack are Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu (The Holy Spirit). Continue reading

La La Land Movie Review

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I’d heard a decent amount of buzz before going to see La La Land. Critics gave it good scores, my friends and family were raving about it, and it even won a bunch of Golden Globe awards.

A lot of hype to live up to and while it was a very good movie it ultimately did not meet my inflated expectations.

I went into the movie only knowing it was a romance staring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Stone plays an aspiring actress/barista in Hollywood. Gosling plays her love interest

Continue reading