Monthly Archives: February 2017

Movie Review: John Wick: Chapter 2

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars

Bottom Line: A kind of weak story.  More than makes up for it with brilliantly choreographed violence.  I mean seriously, it’s almost art.

As the ticket taker ripped our tickets in half when we entered the theater, he emphatically proclaimed, “Best. Sequel. Ever.”  He was wrong.  But if you go to see the movie, you can understand where he was coming from.  Keanu Reeves is the action hero you have been waiting for.  Dude just mixes it up for 2 hours straight.

The second movie appears to start shortly after the first movie left off.  John Wick (Keanu Reeves) still needs to get his car back.  He does so in glorious fashion.  The action scenes in this movie were made with love and meticulous attention to detail.  It is a dance and an orgy of violence and destruction.  The comments interspersed by the Russian crime boss are just icing on the cake.  You know right away that you are in for one heck of a ride.

But then comes the story.  It’s…meh.  It gets really quickly into the mythos of the John Wick universe, which was a large part of the pleasure of the first movie and is still pretty cool in the second, but then it wraps a ridiculous story around it.  In simplest terms possible so as not to give anything away, a crime boss forces Wick to perform another assassination, because he’s an assassin and there wouldn’t be a movie without it, and then immediately double crosses Wick when the task is complete.  We can ignore the fact that the assassination was ridiculously easy despite Wick’s protestations that it was impossible, because movie.  But if you have this large underground of assassins I would think that very high on the list of rules is that you can’t then go and kill your hired help.  Apparently not.

Ignore all that though!  John Wick kicks some real ass in this film and it is glorious to watch.  This movie has probably the best action sequences since “The Matrix”, also starring Keanu Reeves.  And it finally answers my question from my original review as to why it ended so weird.  Because the second was going to start where the first left off.  And the third looks like it will do likewise.

Movie Review: A Dog’s Purpose

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars

Bottom Line: You’ll need to survive past the first half hour.  Bring tissues.

“A Dog’s Purpose” is about a dog who lives multiple lives but still retains memories of the previous life.  As it goes through those lives, it tries to make sense of why it is here and what’s the meaning of it all.  Since there are multiple lives, there are also multiple deaths.  Animal lovers, you will cry.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to get through the first half hour of the movie before you get to a fun movie.  And the first half hour is really bad.  Like, really bad.  Like, take every animal movie cliche and throw in every teenage romance cliche and condense it into a half hour of poorly written dialogue bad.  I briefly considered leaving the theater.  Thankfully (?!?!?), then the dog dies for the first time and the movie turns itself around.

The rest of the movie is cute without being saccharine.  The death scenes are only slightly sanitized for the consumption of the little ones and will ring true to anyone who has ever lost a pet.  The dog goes through a couple more reincarnations putting it in different circumstances before the movie brings the story full circle.  The ending isn’t bad, but it’s definitely disappointing.  It turns out that a dog’s purpose is to “just be there”.  I can not think of a worse message to tell people.  Given owners, all to often, a dog’s purpose should be “be anywhere else”.

The deciding factor on whether to see this movie will probably be whether you are an animal lover or not.  If they took a poll, I bet they’d find that animal lovers like the movie and others do not.  I think I can safely say that this movie is probably not nearly as good as I think it was since it used easy triggers for heartstrings pulling.  Emotional manipulation for the win!

This Is Not Normal: Day 15

Happy Black History month!  Let’s celebrate by watching Trump’s really weird speech about it.  Or him.  Mostly him.

Donald Trump’s first military action resulted in the death of two U.S. citizens , one of them an 8 year old girl,. The other was a Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, a member of SEAL Team Six.  Numerous civilians were also killed in the operation.  This is every bit as abhorrent as when Obama killed a U.S. citizen, that one 16 years old.

Trump’s recent Executive Order about regulations is completely toothless.  It’s basically just a bone thrown to the Libertarian crowd who have no idea how regulations are crafted.  Almost all regulations are crafted based on laws and most can only be removed if the requisite law is overturned.

Let’s not ignore bills at the state level.  Bills like this have been growing in popularity since the GW Bush administration, but they seem to really be picking up steam under Trump’s reign.  States are passing laws that punish protestors with fines and charges for police protections that they already pay for with taxes.  This is an attempt to severely curtail free speech and will only harm those whose voices can be heard through protest.

Donald Trump has already filed the papers for reelection.  This is the earliest any sitting president has filed for reelection.  This allows Trump to start collecting donations from “supporters”.  I put “supporters” in quotes because it allows those who would like to influence his decisions a direct doorway to the presidency through financial contributions.  It also prevents non-profits from speaking negatively about him because he is now a “candidate”.  Doing so puts their non-profit status at risk.

It’s hard for me to get terribly worked up about Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.  He’s basically exactly what you’d expect from any Republican.  That isn’t to say he’s not horrible for separation of church and state and isn’t pretty corporatist.  He is.  I’m just not sure this is a battle worth fighting.  Although, it did produce one of the more chuckle worthy tweet’s I’ve seen, “Trump shouldn’t be allowed to choose a justice in the last year of his presidency.”

It should come as no surprise to anyone that a president with no ethics whose right hand man has no ethics has ignored the federal government’s ethics watchdog by not performing any sort of ethics vetting on any of his nominees.  That’s how you get nominees like Steven Mnuchin who lie in their financial disclosure forms, because, you know, it’s easy to forget $100 million here and there.   Or Tom Price who lied about profiting by passing legislation on stocks that they are actively trading in.  This is why senate Democrats have boycotted both their committee votes.  Republicans shattered norms, again, by using a parliamentary trick to bypass Democrat participation.

Trump continues to make a mockery of the United States and violate norms on the foreign stage.  The scariest is that they turned off their recording devices during Trump’s recent call with Putin.  Because that’s exactly what you’d do when you don’t want people to know about your many ties to Russia.  Trump called Mexico’s president and basically told him that if Mexico didn’t take care if its shit, we’d invade Mexico.  Meanwhile, Trump’s war against immigrants continued apace, but this time against Australia of all places.  Trump wants to renege on a deal between the U.S. and Australia in which take some refugees off Australia’s hands, whose refugee process is  horrendous, and abusive.  In return, Australia will accept some Central and South American refugees.  It’s a great deal in which we rescue Australia’s refugees from horrendous conditions and we settle an equal amount of refugees in Australia.  And finally, Norway’s former Prime Minister was recently held at our airport because he once visited Iran.


The Very Definition Of Mean And Heartless

Various versions of the above meme have been floating around the interwebs.  I’ve removed the attributions because I can’t find the original and I don’t want to drive traffic to those abhorrent sites.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt most of the time, but this meme is so bald-facedly ridiculous and easily refuted that those who spread it can only be coming from one of two places, hate or fear.  Haters gonna hate and I’m not going to convince them otherwise, so this goes out to all those who are fearful.

Your home is your castle, I get that.  Last I checked, though, no one was forcing you to accept refugees into it.  It still has locks.  You can still lock them.  You can still grab your guns and protect your house from anyone who attempts to enter your house or do you harm.  Heck, you can even try to convince your neighbors to be fearful of refugees and to lock their doors as well.  None of that changes just because refugees are welcomed by other people with homes and locks.

What you are doing is the equivalent of forcing others to lock their doors against their will.  You are invading their privacy, forcing your way into their homes, and locking their doors for them.  In fact, it’s far worse than that.  Most of the refugees you’re forcing everyone to lock their doors to are from Syria.  Syria’s mass slaughter of innocents is, in large part, a direct result of our bungled attempts at nation building in the Middle East.  It is not difficult to draw a direct line between the two.  So what you’re doing is watching someone’s house burn down after having lit a wick that, however unknowingly, that led to that person’s house being destroyed.  You are then installing new locks on the houses of all others who would like to open their doors to these homeless people and throwing away the keys.

That, my friends, is the very definition of mean and heartless.