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Batman and Harley Quinn – The Dope Sheet Movie Review

Release Date:  Aug. 14, 2017
Rating:  PG-13
Run Time:  1 hour 14 min
After Credit Scene:  YES
IMAX Viewing:  NO
3D Viewing:  NO
Reviewer:  Wayne Demers
The Dope Sheet Score:  7.5 out of 10

A non-spoiler review.

What you need to know about Batman and Harley Quinn:  This is a straight to DVD animated DC movie.  The artwork is done in the style of Batman the Animated Series (BTAS) with Kevin Conroy returning as the voice of Batman, Loren Lester returning as the voice of Nightwing, and Melissa Rauch (Big Bang Theory) as the voice of Harley Quinn. 

The movie, although a straight to DVD release had a one night/one showing release.  I find it entertaining to see these types of movies on the big screen.  The movie will be available digitally on August 15, 2017, and on DVD/Blu-ray on Aug. 29, 2017.

Batman and Nightwing are forced to team with the Joker’s sometimes-girlfriend Harley Quinn to stop a global threat brought about by Poison Ivy and Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man.”

What works:  There are a few easter eggs in the movie.  I was pretty geeky when I recognized where some of the restaurant décor originally came from.  I also enjoyed the many references to past Batman works.  Kevin Conroy will go down as THE voice of Batman and Bruce Wayne.  The return of Loren Lester as the voice of Nightwing was great.  There are many comedic moments in the film which I honestly laughed out loud; a rarity for me.  The story is new and not based on a novel and at times, the score is great.

What doesn’t work:  A few different styles used in the soundtrack.  Although the music is a nod to past Batman shows, I couldn’t get grounded in the type of story I was watching.  There is some swearing in the film which isn’t an issue for me, but parents may balk when watching with their kids.  But if the language isn’t an issue, the sexual overtones may push them over the edge.  It isn’t a simple hint that there is an attraction between Harley and another character, it is stated outright.  I guess that as the creators of these movies get older, they are making these films for those of us who grew up with the series and know who their audience is and are pushing the mature topic of our hero/villain sexuality.  Last but not least, the ending was abrupt leaving the viewer unrewarded.  Although there is an in-credit scene and after credit scene, the way the film wraps up was disappointing.

Although I have a lengthy list of things I didn’t feel worked, I did have fun with the film and getting me to laugh out loud is a feat.  I’ll also say that I enjoyed Melissa Rauch as Harley Quinn.  I didn’t think I would like her, but she did a great job.  Still, Arleen Sorkin will always be my favorite Harley Quinn.  It isn’t a perfect story, I enjoyed being in that world again and I hope Bruce Timm and Paul Dini take us back many more times.

Can’t get enough of Harley Quinn?  Stop down to your local comic shop and pick up her own comic series.  Great Stories in Uxbridge, MA, has some in stock and can get you nearly anything you are looking for.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I give Batman and Harley Quinn a 7.5.  No concessions needed because you are at home watching this one.  Make it a TV dinner!

Will you see the film?  Tell us your opinion below.

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The Dark Tower – The Dope Sheet Movie Review

Release Date:  Aug. 4, 2017
Rating:  PG-13
Run Time:  1 hours 35 min
After Credit Scene:  NO
IMAX Viewing:  NO
3D Viewing:  NO
Reviewer:  Wayne Demers
The Dope Sheet Score:  5.8 out of 10

A non-spoiler review.

What you need to know about The Dark Tower:  The movie is based a series of books by Steven King.  Although I have not read the books, I am aware that they are very lengthy reads and there is a lot of material to draw from to develop a story for the big screen.

The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black, determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.”

What works:  Very little.  Idris Elba plays the “Roland,” the gun slinger.  His character is the only character that was developed enough that I cared about his journey.  Those who like Steven King will be happy with the hidden eggs that pop up in the background of the film.  If you aren’t familiar with King’s work, you won’t care if you miss them.  Yup, that is it.  Kudos to the advertising team that created the posters and trailers.  They did their jobs of getting my interest and seeing the film.

What doesn’t work:  Every character, other than Roland, lacks enough substance that we just don’t really care about them.  Not the mother, step dad, Jake the hero of the film, or any other character has enough known about them that we care.  The movie felt like a B film from the 80’s with its brushing through the story to move to the action or conflict scenes.  This is one of Matthew McConaughey’s most lack luster performances and I can only attribute it to the lack of material he had to work with.

Not that Steven King films do well, but this one had a lot of hope as the books are lengthy and well-liked by his fans.  This movie, however, appears to have brushed upon the characters like a checklist to ensure they touched on them.  Those who have read the books, I’d like to hear from you because the film continues to put you in one situation and then another and then another without providing the viewer enough time to get a feeling of what the significance is of each location.

By the end of the film, I felt relieved it was over and honestly didn’t care one bit about anything that had happened.  There were opportunities for the movie to rise to the occasion and entertain us, but it couldn’t get its feet under itself to make the leap.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I give The Dark Tower an 5.8.  The movie isn’t worth concessions.

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Detroit – The Dope Sheet Movie Review

Release Date:  Aug. 4, 2017
Rating:  R
Run Time:  2 hours 23 min
After Credit Scene:  NO
IMAX Viewing:  NO
3D Viewing:  NO
Reviewer:  Wayne Demers
The Dope Sheet Score:  8.2 out of 10

A non-spoiler review.

What you need to know about Detroit:  The movie is based on a true story and firsthand accounts from those involved.  “A police raid in Detroit in 1967 results in one of the largest RACE riots in United States history. The story is centered around the Algiers Motel incident, which occurred in Detroit, Michigan on July 25, 1967, during the racially charged 12th Street Riot. It involves the death of three black men and the brutal beatings of nine other people: seven black men and two white women.”

What works:  An outstanding cast full of familiar faces and up and coming stars:  John Boyega (The Force Awakens), Will Poulter (We’re the Millers), Algee Smith (The New Edition Story), Jason Mitchell (Straight Out of Compton), Hannah Murray (Game of Thrones), Jack Reynor (Sing Street), John Krasinski (The Office), Anthony Mackie (Avengers), etc.  All actors gave a great performance.  The story is told in a way that puts the viewer through the psychological warfare, few movies have you sitting on the edge of your seat for much of the film.  It is a tough watch at times, but there is never anything easy to watch about racism.  I also enjoyed how the film wraps up with images of the actual people the movie is based upon.

What doesn’t work:  The first act is told more like a documentary on the History Channel than a big screen film.  The movie feels its two and a half hour run time mostly due to the constant intensity of the story.   That said, I wouldn’t change a thing.

These types of period piece/historic stories need to be told and for our society to be aware.  Unfortunately, typical of movies that don’t make you feel good upon leaving the theater, you won’t have much in return viewership nor many who will talk-up the movie.  This is a very very good movie and one I encourage all to see.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I give Detroit an 8.2.  Although you may not feel like eating while watching this film, it is worth a visit to concessions.

Did you see the film?  Tell us your opinion below.

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Atomic Blonde – The Dope Sheet Movie Review

Release Date:  July 28, 2017
Rating:  R
Run Time:  1 hour 55 min
After Credit Scene:  NO
IMAX Viewing:  NO
3D Viewing:  NO
Reviewer:  Wayne Demers
The Dope Sheet Score:  6.0 out of 10

A non-spoiler review.

What you need to know about Atomic Blonde:  We are back to the 80’s just before the Berlin Wall is torn down.  Spies from all sides are trying to gain access to a list of agents from the US and UK.  MI6 has deployed their best operatives to collect that list so not to fall into enemy hands. 

What works:  80’s soundtrack that is in some cases, updated or remastered.  Charlize Theron is amazing as is James McAvoy.  Charlize just doesn’t age.  The fight scenes were very well choreographed, some of the best I’ve seen in some time.  Excellent stunt work.

What doesn’t work:  The story moves forward with such a fervor that you can’t recall all the characters and who they work for.    The plot is simple and thin.  There is little to keep you engaged unless you love Charlize Theron, action, and 80’s tunes.  The use of titling the chapters with spray paint eventually gets annoying.  There are scenes that could have had better development and others that could have been cut short.  The movie feels longer than its actual running time.

Overall this is a summer action movie built around Charlize as she kicks some serious butt.  Kudos goes out to the stuntwoman who doubles for Charlese as some of those stunts are amazing.  However, this will be a summer dud and I bet the film will be done in 4 weeks.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I give Atomic Blonde a 6.0.  Be sure to grab something from concessions to help pass the time.

Did you see the film?  Tell us your opinion below.

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Valerian – The Dope Sheet Movie Review

Release Date:  July 21, 2017
Rating:  PG-13
Run Time:  2 hours 17 min
After Credit Scene:  NO
IMAX Viewing:  NO
3D Viewing:  NO
Reviewer:  Wayne Demers
The Dope Sheet Score:  6.2 out of 10

SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW

What you need to know:  The full title of this movie is, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.”  Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and his partner Laureline (Cara Delevingne) must track down those who are threatening the city of a thousand planets known as Alpha.

What works:  Beautiful backgrounds and imagery.  Visually the film has a stunning color pallet.  Very interesting creatures and worlds.  The soundtrack was good as well.  The costumes and special effects steal the show.

What doesn’t work:  Lets by shortening down the title to just, “Valerian.”  Then, lets cut 30 – 45 min from the movie.  Although I did not view the film in 3D, clearly there are scenes that are intentionally included specifically for the 3D effect.  When not seeing the film in 3D, these scenes just add fluff that extend the run time of the movie with adding little substance.

When watching the film, you will get flavors of Men In Black, Star Trek, Star Wars, Avatar, The Fifth Element, etc.  The three creatures that sell information are a cross from the worms in MIB and the Ferengi from Star Trek Deep Space 9.  The ship belonging to Valerian has a Millennium Falcon feel.  There is a trash compactor type scene that clearly resonates with Star Wars.  The multidimensional market place feels like something from The Fifth Element or Bladerunner.  The “Mull” race look very similar to the race in Avatar.  I could go on, but when the movie tags the line that it is a movie unlike anything you’ve seen, well, give me something that doesn’t pull from so many films.

Ethan Hawke has a small role that is over the top and as quickly as he is introduced, he is dismissed.  Herbie Hancock is in the film, but why?  Rihanna is in the film only to showcase her singing and dancing talents, certainly it isn’t for her acting skills.  Dane DeHaan plays the role of Valerian and I swear I felt he was trying to be Keanu Reeves with his delivery and tone.  Valerian is this playboy-esc character who tries to convince Laureline that he is committed to her and wants to marry her.  This feels so contrived and silly that I can only attribute this to appeal to adolescents.

I could continue with what didn’t work for me, but I’ll stop here.

Summer of 2017 hasn’t given me many duds, but this is one of them.  I think tweens will enjoy the film and if you are into 3D movies, this may be a movie to catch on a rainy day.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I give Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets a 6.2.  It may be worth seeing in 3D if you are going to see it at all.

Did you see the film?  Tell us your opinion below.

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Dunkirk – The Dope Sheet Movie Review

Release Date:  July 21, 2017
Rating:  PG-13
Run Time:  1 hour 46 min
After Credit Scene:  NO
IMAX Viewing:  YES
3D Viewing:  NO
Reviewer:  Wayne Demers
The Dope Sheet Score:  9.5 out of 10

A Non-Spoiler Review

What you need to know about Dunkirk:  It is World War II.  Belgian, British and French troops have been pushed back to the North Sea at the French seaport of Dunkirk.  Their only escape is to await evacuating ships to rescue them across the English Channel.

What a movie!  Dunkirk isn’t your ordinary WWII film and it isn’t told as such.  The story is told from three perspectives; land, sea, and air.  Although the story follows roughly seven characters, we know little about them, we have little background and in some cases, we don’t know their name.  What we do know is that they are in a bad situation with little hope.  I don’t believe you ever see an enemy face, but you know they are there.  I can’t recall a WWII movie where you didn’t see one enemy person.

From the land perspective, troops want off the beach and on the ships/boats to be brought to the UK.  From a sea perspective, we want ships/boats to reach those troops so they can be evacuated.  From the air, how can we defend the ships/boats and our troops on the beaches.  The story is riveting and I find it unique that it is the events themselves that drive the story and not so much the characters.  There is no need to show the faces of the enemy because their presence is felt throughout the film and it builds suspense and anticipation.

What works:  Excellent casting and acting.  A WWII movie based on true events captures you and keeps you wondering what will happen next.  In IMAX, this movie was outstanding as you feel as if you are there and the emotions of those in the movie transcend the screen and pop right into your chest.  This is done by a well written story that focuses on the events, a score that builds anticipation, and sound effects that plant you in the middle of the action.  Lack of digital special effects and use of practical effects allows the viewer to remain in the story and not distracted by the any short coming of distracting digital effects.  I’m certain there are many digital effects, but they are used in all the right places and in the right ways that allow you to believe you are there.  Actors Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Jack Lowden, Barry Keoghan, and Fionn Whitehead were outstanding!

What doesn’t work:  There are two issues I had with this film.  First, there is not a single leading or supporting female role in the film.  Although it didn’t stand out to me while watching the film I can only attribute it that during WWII, women were not on the front lines or on ships.  It isn’t that there aren’t any women in the film, they just appear as minor extras.  Secondly, the way the story is told you move between the three perspectives of the film.  There is a flashback or two and you are left wondering if it is a flashback or just a change of perspective.  It is confusing at first, but the story reveals itself in short time.

With the summer movie releases going into its final month, this is a strong contender for best film of the summer.  An outstanding story written and directed by Christopher Nolan.  Look for his name to appear for an Oscar nomination for best director.  The acting and cinematography were amazing.  The score was very much a character in this film, the intensity and build-up of anticipation are greatly influenced by the score.  This is as well an emotionally rounded a film as one can get.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I give Dunkirk a 9.5.  It is worth seeing in IMAX and I strongly encourage viewers to seek out an IMAX show time.  Well worth the price of admission and a jumbo popcorn combo.

Did you see the film?  Tell us your opinion below.

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The Big Sick – The Dope Sheet Movie Review

Release Date:  July 14, 2017
Rating:  R
Run Time:  2 hours
After Credit Scene:  (during credit images)
IMAX Viewing:  NO
3D Viewing:  NO
Reviewer:  Wayne Demers
The Dope Sheet Score:  7.8 out of 10

A Non-Spoiler Review

This is a charming movie based on a true story.  I loved the trailer for the film, but I have to say that I felt that this was not a comedy, but a drama/romance with moments of comedic elements.  I laughed as much during this movie as I did in Spiderman Homecoming.  Judd Apatow produced this movie and it has his touch.  He understands what day to day elements of life resonate with the audience and The Big Sick is no different.

Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is a Pakistani looking for a career in standup comedy.  His Pakistani family does not support his desire to be a comic and are very traditional.  Kumail falls in love with Emily (Zoe Kazan) who is your traditional American female.  Emily becomes sick and Kumail reaches out to Emily’s family to come to her aid.  Her parents are played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano and are great on screen together. 

What works:  Very good casting and acting.  A good story is told and keeps the viewer wondering what will happen next.

What doesn’t work:  The film deals with sad and depressing story lines and is far more a drama than a comedy.  A viewer may expect to experience a film where laugh after laugh will come, but the film doesn’t deliver in that capacity.  The love story is far more thought provoking than comedic and this viewer came away feeling a bit more depressed than happy.

Those that I’ve spoken with that are looking forward to seeing the movie felt as I did that we were going in to see a comedy.  You may find the film funnier than I did, but the tragic elements of the film overshadow the comedic elements for me and it didn’t deliver as much as I had hoped.  With this said, the story is still heartwarming and well told.  Holly Hunter and Ray Romano are excellent actors that anchor this story when it is needed most.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I give The Big Sick a 7.8.  It is worth seeing in the theater and a drink.

Did you see the film?  Tell us your opinion below.

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War for the Planet of the Apes – The Dope Sheet Movie Review

Release Date:  July 14, 2017
Rating:  PG-13
Run Time:  2 hour 20 minutes
After Credit Scene:  NO
IMAX Viewing:  NO
3D Viewing:  NO
Reviewer:  Wayne Demers
The Dope Sheet Score:  9.2 out of 10

A Non-Spoiler Review

War for the Planet of the Apes is the third movie in the franchise and the best of the three.  If you have not seen the previous movies, I suggest you do as this movie references characters and story lines that one will want to be familiar with to understand who the apes are and why the humans are hostile.

Caesar, the leader of the apes, is being hunted by humans lead by The Colonel (Woody Harrelson).  He must decide between his own quest or that to save his people.  Human kind is as fractured a species as are these advanced apes and the two clash to save their own kind.

What works:  Amazing cgi of the apes.  When there are closeups of the apes, the innate detail has the viewer wondering if the image is of a true ape or completely computer generated.  The motion of the apes appears true which furthers the complement to the cgi effects.  The story is well thought out and pulls the viewer into its world.  Outstanding character development, because you care about these characters or despise them.  The voice work is outstanding, although many times you are hearing ape grunts and coo’s.  Still, very believable.  You’ll pull for the humans and you’ll pull for the apes, you stay engaged in this film to the very end.

What doesn’t work:  When the cgi is on it is ON.  However, there are moments from afar that the cgi could have been a bit more refined.  It is a stretch to fault any of the cgi, but this is the only fault I found with this movie.

This is an outstanding movie.  I believe that War for the Planet of the Apes is the best movie of this summer, but it won’t be as financially successful compared to Spider-man: Homecoming due to the broader appeal Homecoming will have over this Apes movie.  Have no doubt that you will ride an emotional roller-coaster in this film and it is well worth the price of admission.  It is a wonderful installment in the trilogy of Apes movies and I hope they continue the franchise.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I give War for the Planet of the Apes a 9.2.  It is worth seeing in the theater and a popcorn combo.  If you are on the fence about seeing this movie, take the chance and check it out.

Did you see the film?  Tell us your opinion below.

Apes Poster

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Spider-Man: Homecoming – The Dope Sheet Movie Review

Release Date:  July 7, 2017
Rating:  PG-13
Run Time:  2 hour 13 minutes
After Credit Scene:  YES (and during credits)
IMAX Viewing:  NO
3D Viewing:  NO
Reviewer:  Wayne Demers
The Dope Sheet Score:  9 out of 10

A Non-Spoiler Review

Spider-Man Homecoming is the movie of the summer and my favorite film of the year.  It will take a lot to knock this one from the top of my list.  If you saw Captain America: Civil War then you already have an introduction into who Peter Parker and Spider-Man is.  Every actor pulls his or her weight in this film.  Ver pleasantly surprised how characters were used and few I wasn’t expecting were revealed.  Tom Holland and Michael Keaton had such great chemistry with their characters.  Holland is Parker and Keaton is Vulture.  It all works and works well.  Marvel Studios has done it again!

What works:  We didn’t need an origin story and we didn’t get one.  EXCELLENT!  The movie is very well written and met all my expectations of the film.  It is funny where you expect it to be without going overboard.  There is enough action to see Spider-Man spinning webs and jumping around.  The casting was excellent.  Even the supporting cast is loaded with names/faces we know and what a great job they did.  The story takes some unexpected chances that I’m not certain how people will feel, but I like their decisions because they are trying to make Parker/Spider-Man relevant in 2017.  Although the movie felt a little long, I’m fine with it because they gave us a very good Parker.

What doesn’t work:  I’m not so certain that kids today in high school are listening to 80’s bands.  I was expecting a bit more contemporary music; however, I’ll take my 80’s where I can get it.  Although I listed this as a “what works,” taking chances on some of who the characters are is so risky.  I may not mind, but purists may take a step back.  Without spoiling anything, there are a few moments in the trailers that would have been better if kept for the movie only.  It would have had a better impact.

I think most people who see this film will leave feeling happy with what they saw.  Be sure to stay to the end of the credits as there is an after-credit scene worth seeing.  Small little spoiler here, there is no Venom and no mention of Venom in the film.  Good, no need for us to rush things with Spider-Man even though I’m aware that Venom is a Sony property, not Marvel.

My viewing was not in 3D nor IMAX, but I can only imagine how spectacular and amazing it must be (ya, I couldn’t resist).

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I give Spider-Man: Homecoming a 9.  It is worth seeing in the theater and a popcorn combo.  I look forward to seeing it again very soon.

Did you see the film?  Tell us your opinion below.

spiderman poster

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Despicable Me 3 – The Dope Sheet Movie Review

Release Date:  June 30, 2017
Rating:  PG
Run Time:  1 hour 30 minutes
After Credit Scene:  NO
IMAX Viewing:  NO
3D Viewing:  NO
Reviewer:  Wayne Demers
The Dope Sheet Score:  7.9 out of 10

A Non-Spoiler Review

Gru, bad guy turned good guy, finds out that he has a twin brother.  He and his family go to meet his newly found brother and bond over an attempt to thwart the evil plan of Balthazar Bratt.  Bratt, a child actor who’s tv show was canceled, now grown up, has turned to a life of crime.

What works:  For those who love the Minions, have no fear as they get plenty of screen time and are funny.  So many 80’s references in this movie that parents are sure to enjoy.  The message echoed is ‘family,’ and is a theme throughout the film.  Steve Carell continues to do the voice of Gru and in this film, he also does the voice of Dru, Gru’s twin brother.  Excellent voice work done by the cast.

What doesn’t work:  Although a good movie and it is trying to evolve the characters, this is a kid’s movie at heart and it doesn’t keep adults engaged.  This is fully expected by me, but this is the only fault I had with the movie

A good soundtrack for those who enjoy the 80’s and as I mentioned above, there are many 80’s references.  Fun and refreshing story, this franchise has a good track record and provides another good sequel.  My instinct tells me we’ll see another movie in the future as there are a few different directions it could continue, that is if the movie continues to be a financial success as well.  Kids are sure to enjoy this summer film.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I give Despicable Me 3 a 7.9.  It is worth seeing in the theater and maybe a popcorn combo.

Did you see the film?  Tell us your opinion below.

Despickable 3 poster