A Quiet Place (2018)

A Quiet Place

John Krasinski not only caries the safety of his family on his shoulders, but the movie as a whole.

I doubt even the biggest fan of The Office would have predicted that they would see John Krasinski stepping out with his talents like this. He not only stars in A Quiet Place, but directs and helped with the screenplay. It is only his third time at the helm as director, but it is certainly the charm.

Krasinski and Emily Blunt (his wife in real life) star as Lee and Evelyn Abbott, who live with their two kids Regan and Marcus (Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe, respectively). They are some of the very last survivors on earth after creatures with super sonic like hearing have killed everyone else. They have lived just under five hundred days, with a strict schedule of normal life, provided they don’t make a sound. It is fortune for them that they do live in a farm in the outside parts of New York, and have already learned how to use sign language (the daughter Regan is deaf). New dangers do arise, as we find out that a new baby is on the way.

It is obvious that there is jump scares a plenty in the film, which I am not ashamed to admit got me shaken a few times. Still, what scared me the most of the film is not the jump scares or even the creature (which is creepy, no doubt.) For me, it was knowing off the bat that, if this happend in the real world, and we all had to be quiet. I would not last long at all.

It is also refreshing how such a small cast can give strong performances. Krasinski and Blunt are obviously good (especially in one scene they share by themselves as they dance), but the kids are equally impressive. Both kids were in 2017 films: Simmonds in Wonderstruck and Jupe in Wonder (he was Auggie’s friend Jack Will). It is really Simmonds who is given the most moments to shine (she is deaf in real life).

Parents, the movie is PG-13, mainly for the horror and violence (there is bloody images, but nothing worse than what is on cable these days). Due to the lack of dialogue (though there is some), there is no real swearing. Middle school and up is fine.

It is not perfect: A second or third viewing will be needed to see if there are sounds that are made that you would think the creature would have heard. Still, undoubtably, the man responsible for A Quiet Place is Krasinski. In years to come, he could be in races for an Oscar. Still, the most impressive thing (and creepiest) came after the credits. It is not a scene, but a name of a producer that John Krasinski has linked to a good movie.

That name is Michael Bay.

When you make a good movie with Michael Bay’s name attached to it (in any way), you know a movie is not only good, but a rarity.

Overall: Four Stars ****

The Rock (1996)

The Rock

John Mason (Sean Connery) and Stanley Goodspeed (Nicholas Cage) defusing a missile.

The upcoming generation (as well as my fellow millenials) will find it hard to believe there was once a movie as entertaining as The Rock. Afterall, it is hard to find phrases these days like “quality Michael Bay movie” or “entertaining Nicholas Cage film” (the latter has had better films).

Revisiting The Rock since I first saw it multiple times as a child, I realize it does still have flaws. There are the explosions that have come to define a Michael Bay movie, but at least they are there for a reason (as opposed to something like The Transformers franchise, where the explosions are there for us to look at, not because it adds to the story). There are also some rather stereotypical characters (such as the black trolley driver) as well as a huge embrace of the military (which this movie actually does with more heart than any other movie Bay has made). Still, if there is one reason to see this film, it is because of Sean Connery.

This may have actually been the first movie I ever saw with Connery in it (leading me to his work as the best Bond ever). I remember watching him, thinking I was looking at a true myth, a legend. That is actually the aspect of his character. When a war Hero, General Hummell (Ed Harris) finds out that the government will not pay for the efforts and recognition of men who have died under his command, he steals missiles with toxic gas that he threatens to shoot at San Francisco from Alcatraz (which he is holding 81 hostages on). The best person at working with this toxic gas is a FBI chemistry specialist, Stanley Goodspeed (Nicholas Cage). Still, the FBI needs to know how to maneuver under the island, so they release the only known man to have escaped it, John Mason (Connery).

A lot of readers know how it has been a rough many years for Cage (don’t get me started on Left Behind), but there was truly a time when he was a great actor. Here, he does his normal, over the top craziness, but only when needed (he actually only swears one time). Harris’s General is a villain, but not entirely cruel (notice he makes sure the kids leave the island before he takes it over). He does not want to kill so much as just right a wrong. Still, it is Connery who steals the show,  proving his myth and legend as a movie star.

Parents, the movie is rated R mainly for swearing and violence (though it would be violence like that of a hard PG-13 movie nowadays). There is also a brief sex scene (totally not needed) without any nudity, but a lot of sound effects. Skip that scene, and I would say middle school and above.

It is hard to think of any other Michael Bay movie that is better than The Rock. Sure, it had begun with some of the negative aspects we now see too much of in his films, but it is still a blast of a movie over two decades later.

 

Overall: Three and a Half Stars *** 1/2

Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)

Transformers The Last Knight

Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) gets some down time to take a call from his daughter.

There is undoubtably a lot to hate about Transformers: The Last Knight, but perhaps the thing I hated most was that I did not end up hating it as much as I thought I would (or at least as much as I hated Age of Extinction).

There are only two redeeming (if you want to use that word) qualities to this film: the plot is a little easier to follow, and there are not as many Michael Bay-isms in the film. Sure, there is still humor that panders to the 13-year-old boys in the audience (which I did not seem to see any of the night I saw it), a lot of sunsets that are never-ending, and far too much of the US military. Still, I only counted one scene of advertising (Bud Weiser), and (the one I am most thankful for), no female objectification (which I was really afraid would happen when the 14-year-old girl character was introduced).

The last paragraph is really all that is not bad (I just can’t bring myself to say “good”) in the movie (and really may be the longest paragraph of positivity that the film will see). The rest is what you would expect. Optimus Prime is back, but in some bad guy programmed way (I forgot his evil name and am too lazy to look it up). He is returning from Cybertron (his home world), looking for a staff once given to Merlin (Stanley Tucci, who was smart enough to be in the movie for no longer than four minutes) that helped England during the dark ages 1600 years ago (which I did not know was that long ago, but this movie does teach us a lot about history if it were written by a three-year old). Mark Wahlberg is back as Cade Yaeger, the eventer from Age of Extinction (thankfully, his daughter and her boyfriend are not). He is summoned by Sir Edmund Burton (Anthony Hopkins, who I never thought until now could be annoying) to help find the staff along with Vivian Wembley (Laura Haddock). We also, yet again, get Josh Duhamel as William Lennox and (for reasons I can only attribute to the need of a paycheck) John Tuturro as…whatever his character was.

The action sequences are the same as always, offering nothing new to any of us. The humor is flatter than paper (save one minor humorous scene of Bumblebee’s new voice box being Siri). The innuendo between Wahlberg and Haddock is more cringe worthy than anything I have seen in some time. For a glimmer of a moment, I had a feeling the movie would not stretch beyond its welcome. Yeah, it did.

Parents, if your kids have seen the first films, they are fine here. Still, there is nothing wrong with skipping a movie night and staying home to watch Netflix (it has countless options far better).

According to both Michael Bay and Mark Wahlberg, each has said this would be their last Transformers film (though Bay had said that previously). If the title is being prophetic for those two, perhaps it will be the same for the franchise?

(Note: The after credits tease at the coming of the gigantic machine known as Unicron, who was voiced in the 1980s film by film legend Orson Welles just before he died. The only thing that would make me want to see the next film is if Welles is brought back to life to do the voice work. Being that he is dead, and hated the role, I have doubts.)

 

Overall: 1 1/2 Stars