Saturday, December 2, 2017

Theatrical Review: Justice League

Date: Sunday, November 26 2017
Location: Cinemark Theater at Stroud Mall
Time: 12pm
Party: 3 (my mom, aunt and myself)
 
Director: Zach Snyder (of 300 and Watchman fame. I know him as the writer/director of SuckerPunch. The rest of the world probably knows him for Batman vs. Superman)
Writers: Chris Terrio (of Argo and Batman vs. Superman fame), Zach Snyder and Joss Whedon (TRAITOR!)
Composer: Danny Elfman (it's been a while...)
 
Cast:
Batman- Ben Affleck
Superman- Henry Cavill
Wonder Woman- Gal Gadot
The Flash- Ezra Miller
Aquaman- Jason Momoa
Ray Fisher- Cyborg
Lois Lane- Amy Adams
Steppenwolf- Ciaran Hinds
 
Duration: 120 hours (+7 trailers)
 
 
Opening remarks
 
Well... it finally happened. I thought this movie would never happen cuz- cmon- you can’t get Superman and Batman together in one movie. They’re just too huge.
But yeah the movie happened. Trying to capitalize on the popularity of the Marvel universe of superhero movies. The question is- is DC so late to the party with this movie that nobody cares for these movies anymore. Wonder Woman got the pot brewing again but perhaps this movie is a step backwards- depending if critic reviews and box office totals matter to you.
It was a full but not satiated theater. We got good seats with no tall people in front of us and we were in middle of the action. Some time the crowd laughed and they actually applauded at the end. Not ravenously but out of respect for a job well done. Or at least they found it enjoyable.

Trailers
There were so many I had to write them down on my phone so I wouldn’t forget any.

Black Panther
Like all marvel movies the action and scenery is fantastic. As a movie though I’m not sure if it holds a lot of interest for me. I might wait for the critics to sound off on this one. (As much as I don’t trust them half the time they were my deciding vote about seeing Wonder Woman.)

The Commuter
I saw Liam Neeson and I’m like “oh no it’s not another Taken movie is it? That family needs to never leave their house again). But nope it’s another Liam Neeson thriller- this time Vera Farmiga seems to be the sociopath he needs to cooperate with and then defeat. (She’s such a good psycho- I know this for a fact). With her in this movie, just maybe, it won’t be another cliched effort from this guy.

Rampage
It’s kinda like Mighty Joe Young meets genetic engineering/alien artifacts meets King Kong. Dwayne Johnson (who has been freaking everywhere lately- at least he’s not John Goodman) is a man who has a friendship with an albino gorilla. Not only is this friendship tested when the gorilla finds some sort of technology in the jungle and mutates into a giant, but there are other hostile animals also infected and involved. Considering this is from the same people behind San Andreas, I’m not holding my breath.

Pacific Rim Uprising
To fight giant aliens invading a city apparently you need giant robots. I knew this movie was coming from the Microsoft Surface commercials. Although later in the trailer, I thought it might be Halo. Except I think that world was post apocalyptic and they weren't giant robots. Either way, another pass.

Tomb Raider
Heard about this one as well. Geesh Alicia Vankander won an Oscar and all of a sudden she’s everywhere. Brie Larson too but that’s another movie.
Do we really need to resurrect this franchise? I didn’t like it the right time but I also don’t care a lot for Angelina Jolie.

A Quiet Place
This movie looks creepy as hell. The trailer is shown with no dialogue and no sounds except music that builds until the end.
Supposedly real life husband and wife John Kraskowski and Emily Blunt and their family live in a cabin in the woods and can’t make a sound cuz if they do they’ll alert a terrifying creature. :shudder:

Deadpool 2
I almost forget all about this one LMAO.
Yeah it’s a funny teaser trailer where Deadpool does his best Bob Ross inspiration. Keep an eye on the painting and how it changes.
Then we get a major flurry of activity and footage I can’t make heads or tails of. Anyway- the only movie out of these I’m excited for.

Considering how few movies I’d seen this year (in theater and at home) I hadn’t been excited about many movies at all lately.

The Main Attraction
 
Yeah... there are different parties involved but like the Avengers movie, the earth is under attack from alien forces and superheroes need to come together. Except the villain is an ancient being from another dimension that dates back as far as the Amazons (like Wonder Woman) and Atlantans (like Aquaman). And instead of S.H.I.E.L.D. it’s Bruce Wayne getting everyone together.
Some participants (like Aquaman and newly created Cyborg) are unwilling at first but everyone eventually comes together.
And there’s also a plot about resurrecting Superman cuz they apparently can’t do this without him.
 
Good news first: Ezra Miller (who I know best as Patrick from “The peeks of being a wallflower”) is great as The Flash as the token young guy still getting to know his newfound super powers. He had some hilarious jokes and one scene where he ate a whole pizza pie. My aunt said he needs to eat a lot. Considering his powers it’s easy to see why.
Cyborg was the reluctant participant, nearly into his transformation and we get a good back story how he was a promising athlete and tragedy befell him. But as a result everyone he knew but his father believe he’s dead.
There’s also a funny running joke (not that kind of running- although the flash is involved) how he keeps trying to fist bump Cyborg but the timing is never right.
Wonder Woman is maybe the glue holding everything together. Not just the group but the whole movie. She still feels like a breath of fresh air. Not as naive as she was in her origin movie (clearly a lot has happened between those events and her cameo in Batman vs Superman- which I still haven’t seen but maybe should to fill some gaps for myself) but yeah, Gal Gadot is great.
Of course I’ll keep with the avengers comparisons and maybe it’s cuz they’re both female but she kinda occupies the same field as Black Widow. But I like Wonder Woman more right now- I’m still kinda mad that they put her and hulk together as a possible romantic pairing just cuz the avengers apparently HAVE to have one. (No, it doesn’t...)
 
Then Aquaman gets involved cuz the villain paid him a visit in his home world as well... my compliments to the writers on this... I was so terrified when this villain visited his world and wonder woman’s that their entire families would be massacred cuz that’s what the cliche is. They didn’t. And I am so grateful cuz that just would have been painful. Especially after falling for the Amazons in the Wonder Woman movie. Not to mention they are bad asses and if they were all killed, it totally would have taken that away.
There, the compliments end. And I hate to say it but the issue lies with Ben affleck playing Batman. It just feels like nobody can play that role anymore. One too many recasts. (At least the kid from Gotham is still nailing a young Bruce Wayne- although not liking the destructive teenager story arc this current season has).
And I don’t really care for Ben affleck that much. Argo was maybe the one exception even though it was a long ass movie that had too many low boring points.
So it looks to me like Ben Affleck is getting this group together not Bruce Wayne and he made one comment how the aliens are going to affect climate change and ocean levels will raise. (Of course he says this to Aquaman and he doesn’t mind that... he adds that waters will also boil). Ugh! You and Leo, just shut the hell up! Do your jobs as actors and leave the politics out of it.
Also he goes toe to toe with Wonder Woman about how they respond to grief of lost loved ones and he said she couldn’t lecture him cuz she didn’t get over hers for years. Yeah, dude, but she eventually did. You haven’t and you’re insensitive to the fact she can’t bring hers back.
Once Superman is back in the mix, not as much screen time but maybe that’s why I thought he was good. Although it is kinda pitiful that the justice league can’t do this without him. The avengers have a demi God in Thor but he doesn’t contribute nearly as much as Captain America does and he isn’t as strong as him or Superman (although he is pretty strong- since he goes through punching bags pretty quickly).
But yeah all the action in the finale is great and it’s really cool how something the villain says throughout the movie winds up being his undoing.
It’s only a 2 hour movie but it felt like it took SO long to get there.
And as interesting as some of these character arcs are, I really don’t care enough about any of them to feel invested. That’s kinda what summed this all up for me.

Grade: B

Friday, November 24, 2017

Theatrical Review- Thor: Ragnorak

Date: Sunday, November 5th 2017
Location: Cinempolis in Roxbury Township, New Jersey
Time: 1:40 pm
Party: 3 (my mom, aunt and myself)

Director- Taika Waititi (his most significant credit is directing some episodes of Flight of the Conchords)
Writers- Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost
Composer- Mark Mothersbaugh (I think he was originally in an 80's band, but I know him best as the composer of the Rugrats music)

Cast:
Thor- Chris Hemsworth
Loki- Tom Hiddlestone
Odin- Anthony Hopkins
The Hulk/Bruce Banner- Mark Ruffalo
Hela, goddess of Death- Cate Blanchett
Heimdell- Idris Elba
Grandmaster- Jeff Goldblum
Valkyrie- Tessa Thompson
Skurge- Karl Urban
Doctor Strange- Bendict Cumberbatch

Write-up:

Opening Comments and Coming Attractions

Gotta start off in saying the amount of commercials was so annoying! It's bad enough we get them at home and now YouTube is making you sit through 2 ads for videos... as if they're trying to kill us inside until we crack and invest in a YouTube Red subscription. It was just overkill.
It was a good sized crowd, but we wound up being in a row where people kept having to get up and use the rest room or buy more popcorn. And they'd do it during action scenes- guys, if you're doing stuff you'd be doing while watching movies at home, maybe you should have waited for this movie come on DVD.  

This got glowing reviews, but I read a few that said that this movie is lighter in humor like "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Deadpool"... but that it also didn't take itself too seriously. The latter part of that is what helps the movie from becoming self-parody. And many of the jokes were funny. At times, there were maybe too many and some tried too hard, but most were genuinely laughable in the best way.

I don't think I'd seen any of the trailers before, but there were 6 of them. Which is a lot, plus all the other commercials, PLUS the ad for the Cinemapolis chain.

Jumanji- this goes way beyond the original version with Robin Williams and the Caldecott Award winning book (yeah, all these years later, I remember the Caldecott. That was a big deal- when a children's book would win every year for outstanding illustration). It stars Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson, but they are actually avatars in a video game. Four kids are playing this video game and they get sucked into the game and they're put inside these avatars that look completely different from them in real life. So it gives the actors a chance to act against type, which I find kinda interesting.
I don't know whether this movie is going to bomb or be hilarious, but it's an interesting prospect. It's kinda funny how all the avatars in the game have different strengths and weaknesses and apparently, Kevin Hart's weakness is cake and the trailer shows him eating cake and potentially exploding.

Downsizing- it stars Matt Damon and Jason Sudekis. The idea of downsizing is an irreversible procedure where people are "downsized" and get put into an made-up community for tiny people. Matt Damon and his wife were going to do it, but she (I think she was Kristen Wiig) calls him after he has the procedure done and says she can't go through with it.
Yeah, between Jumanji and this, and the next trailer, I had a hard time comprehending reality at this point. I believe the term, sorry for the profanity, is mindfuck.

The Disaster Artist-
apparently starring the Franco brothers, it's about this weird British actor who kinda reminds me of Russell Brand who doesn't get a role in a movie he fought for. And then he decides with his friends to make a movie. It was just a very off-beat sense of humor and weirded me out big time.
I don't think James Franco has done any movies I've really liked. And in the case of the Spider-Man movies, he wasn't the reason I liked that movie.

then we got to some really good ones...

The Last Jedi-
This was maybe the first full trailer I saw of this and of course we're excited for it. But there was so much going on that I couldn't process it all. What stood out was Luke saying how this isn't going to end how you think, Raye being in pain and maybe her and Kylo Ren joining forces.

The Justice League-
yeah, we're crossing the line to DC here, but this is a pretty big deal because a lot of people (myself included) never thought that this movie was going to happen. I mean, it's a tall order getting Batman and Superman in the same movie. But then again, they did that and it had mixed reviews despite all the money it made.
I think we might wind up seeing this one because it's the next big blockbuster to come out this year and it's coming soon.

Black Panther-
Not sure what to expect with this movie, but the character in Captain America: Civil War was really good.

The Main Event

Ragnorak is the Norse equivalent of “the end of days”- this is addressed at a couple points in the movie (in the beginning and the end to tie it all in a nice little bow). This isn’t quite a spoiler because it’s in the title and the way it comes about isn’t what you’d immediately expect. An interesting twist on Armageddon, I guess you could say.

After an obligatory opening battle scene set to music (Thor has a new theme song apparently and they kick ass together-- "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin- that song starts with the two "ah-ah-ah!" lines before actual lyrics), Thor and Loki locate Odin (who is M.I.A) with the help of a Doctor Strange cameo.
Interesting new touch on this- usually, the after-credits scenes are stand alone to tease about the next movie in the marvel story arc. The one from the end of Doctor Strange is the actual scene in this movie. Some might say Doctor Strange is just showing off with his teleportation powers, but it’s pretty funny what happens to Thor and Loki in these scenes.
Finally, they find Odin who is departing from existence (what’s with these superhero movie killing off Gods lately?) cuz it’s just “his time”. But his absence is quickly filled by Hela- the goddess of death and his firstborn. Cate Blanchett is in fine form and quite a bad ass in this role, which would be great if she wasn’t so evil and hard to kill. She actually knocks Thor and Loki out of the rainbow bridge on the way to Asgard- who does that?

Thor turns up on another planet where he is forced to fight in an arena. And if you saw any of the trailers, you know he’s up against the Hulk- who’s apparently got a following. Kinda nuts. Of course, it’s a great fight (at one point, Loki- who of course befriended Jeff Goldblum The Grandmaster in charge of all this- celebrates, bringing us back to one of the most memorable Avengers scenes) and how it ends was frustrating- putting it mildly and spoiler-free.
While we do meet some cool characters like the other gladiators and a former Valkyrie (who is in charge of Thor and has him in her power) this part of the movie where Thor plots his and the Hulk’s escape just takes too damn long. It’s bad enough Hela is unbeatable, but throw in another impossible scenario, hopelessness is exhausting.
Together with Loki, all four of them do manage to get away, but it’s an uphill battle. But along the way, we have killer chase and battle scenes and occasional comic relief with Thor and Loki. Gotta love Loki even if he is an opportunistic weasel. And Valkyrie is another bad ass chick. She’s been called this movie’s equivalent of Han Solo.

There’s also a couple of funny Hulk/Bruce Banner scenes, including one where he does his best Tony Stark impression. I mean, I’m kinda sick of Robert in that role cuz it’s not going to win him an Oscar, but that scene (I won’t elaborate) made me badly wish he was in this movie right now. But that’s mainly cuz I haven’t seen him in a while- nothing against this movie. It’s its own unique brand of fun through most of it. The rest- you can decide for yourself

Grade: B+


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Theatrical Review: The Lego Ninjago Movie

Date: Saturday September 23 2017
Location: Cinemark at Stroud Mall
Time: 11am
Party: 3 (my mom sister and I)

Directors: Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan
Writers: (too many to list)
Composer: (too many to list)


Notable Cast:
Master Wu- Jackie Chan
Lloyd- Dave Franco
Garmadon- Justin Theroux


Duration: 141 minutes (+6 trailers)

Opening comments

Yeah I’m posting this a little late but with this movie I figured there wasn’t a big hurry.
Like with Lego Batman this was another movie my sister wanted to see but she was also a fan of the Lego Ninjago series. I’d seen very little of it myself but any excuse to go to the movies these days (when there aren’t as many I want to see for whatever reason- I hope it’s just an off year) I’ll take.
The theater had a good crowd, a lot of kids but none that distracted too much from the movie. They laughed at most of the right parts- although I can’t remember which drew the most laughter.

Coming attractions


 A bunch repeated from the previous movie, Leap!
Daddy’s home 2, my little pony (my mom told us there’s no way she’s taking us to that one and we didn’t argue lol), coco and paddington 2 (the one trailer I forgot from the last one- hey, I’m used to only having to remember 3 trailers per movie, give me a break).

Then there was another rendition of Peter Rabbit. (Nick Jr had a series a few years ago with Peter Benjamin Squirrel Nutkin and a new female bunny named Lily- Peter has three sisters and they had to come up with another female protagonist? I don’t get it. Also have no idea if that series is still on but what little I saw of it I enjoyed).
This time it’s about the origin of Peter rabbit and how he became what he is... except it showed him hosting a party at mr mcgregors house and James Corden is doing his voice. Uh... I mean I like James Corden and Peter Rabbit but together? I’m kinda concerned- this is my child hood I’m talking about and I hope they didn’t ruin it by having this be a more PG version.
Then there was the curious “Isle of Dogs” which looks like Wes Anderson’s attempt at recapturing the success of Fantastic Mr. Fox (but with dogs and it takes place in Japan- and is likely to catch flack from the PC crowd cuz no lead roles are done by Japanese actors). The sense of humor feels very similar so I think this movie could be good. Just gotta see what the critics have to say.

The Main Event


 Maybe this is a Japanese thing but the methodology of our main characters seems extremely similar to Power Rangers. They even have their own Zords (although I think they’re just called Mechas in this case). But these 6 characters are high schoolers that will make an excuse to leave at the same time when the main villain attacks their town. And nobody seems to have a clue.
The other interesting coincidence is that the green one seems like the odd man out while poised to become the leader of the group. They even have an old dude as their master- except he’s in the flesh and he can hold his own in battle easily. I think the similarities end there (I guess between the ill advised peter rabbit and power ranger reboots I’m feeling nostalgic)

But here’s a couple of twists that make things interesting and set them apart-
The green ninja Lloyd is the least popular kid in school (unlike Tommy the green ranger)... because the villain Garmadon who is always attacking the town is his father. Yeah- how’s that for awkward?
Plus- all his friends have elemental powers like fire lightning ice earth and water. He’s just... green. (Funny enough I was thinking why he is the only one without an elemental power minutes before this conversation takes place)

Things boil up to a point where Lloyd decides the only way to defeat his father for good is to use the ultimate weapon. Which of course backfires or we wouldn’t have much of a movie.
This “weapon” (not saying what cuz it’s kinda hilarious how badly this turns out) summons Catzilla who proceeds to destroy the city.

Adding more to predictability- the ninjas need to go into the jungle to get the ultimate ultimate weapon and they need a true ninja to lead them. Their master is temporarily lost to them so, yeah, they gotta take Garmadon with them. By this point Lloyd had already revealed his secret identity to him (“and now we got bad blood, hey!”— sorry, couldn’t resist) so it makes the journey awkward at times but things happen and.. I’ll just leave the rest to the imagination.

Kinda hard to believe what a funny villain Garmadon is. I mean yeah he is kind of an idiot and kinda predictable but well written and acted. Justin Theroux isn’t very big in Hollywood and I know him better for co-writing Tropic Thunder and Iron-Man 2 (I think one led to the other and may be why Iron-Man 2 fell short of the original... but that could also be Sam Rockwell’s fault- his character is such a tool in that movie). But yeah he was great.
The funniest gag is him “firing” his generals when they say something he doesn’t like or they just have no ideas... but unlike with Dr. Evil in Austin Powers, this comes back to get him in hilarious fashion.

One nice difference about this movie is that it begins and ends in reality with Jackie Chan telling a kid the entirety of the movie and we get to see the story unfold without interruption. I thought to myself- I’m going to forget that the movie was being done this way by the time it ends. And sure enough I did.
And it’s worth sticking through part of the credits cuz we don’t just see the characters sing and dance but also Jackie Chan outtakes.

As for the movie itself, it was funny, had great characters and killer action scenes (although maybe a little too fast paced at some points). But even though it wasn’t a terribly long movie I found some scenes ran too long and I was asking myself when they’d be over. But my sister enjoyed it and that’s the important thing.
As far as Lego movies go, I liked how it was different from the others where they didn’t go too over the top with humor or pop culture references. And of course everything is better with ninjas- or for me some Asian influences just to set things apart.
It was kinda funny how it made fun of the formula of your typical “bad guy regularly tries to take over the town” story. We have GMA’s Michael Strahan and Robin Roberts hosting the morning show and asking themselves what % chance is there of an attack. Not to mention someone posing the question how effective the ninjas are because they defeat Garmadon but he always gets away. I kinda like it when cartoons ask the deep questions but the seriousness of said question doesn’t kill the fun tone of the movie or genre being presented.

Grade: B

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Theatrical Review: Leap!

Date: Saturday August 26 2017
Time: 11:55am
Location: Cinemark Cinema in Stroud Mall
Party: 2 (my sister & I)

Directors: Eric Summer and Eric Warin
Writers: Eric Summer (based on his idea), Laurent Zeitoun and Carol Noble
Composer: Klaus Badelt

Cast:
Felicie- Elle Fanning
Victor- Nat Wolff
Odette- Carly Rae Jepsen
Camille- Maddy Zeigler
Merante, the choreography- Terrence Scammell
Mother Superior/Regine/Felicie's mom- Kate McKinnon
Luteau- Mel Brooks

Duration: 89 minutes (+ 7 trailers)
Opening Remarks


First off, I listed the venue for the first time in a long time for a very particular reason. A particularly sad one.
Our super local cinema was one of several businesses in our local flea market affected by a fire and is one of such businesses that may never recover. It happened a couple weeks after we saw Despicable 3... it sucks. Granted, it wasn't perfect. We've had our share of sound issues, screen splits and so on. A couple of times when the movie was shut off prematurely or we had to remind people we were still there. But it was SUPER convenient and I'm going to miss it.

The mall is a good 20 minutes away from the house and downtown traffic can have its issues every now and then. But it's a really nice place. Can't beat the cushy stadium seating. And it was the two of us and two other twosomes within this one theater, so it was pretty cool.

Probably the one negative... there are a million trailers. Not commercials. Trailers. And unlike with "The Judge," where I managed to write them all down, I was just lucky I was able to count these.

Trailers


A bunch were animated and a bunch had real people. That much I remember for sure.

First up- "Daddy's Home 2"... how this movie got a sequel is as beyond me as Adam Sandler still being able to make movies when most of them are terrible...
Mark Walberg is the dad and Will Ferrell is the stepdad. But this time, their dads come into the picture for some holiday. Walberg's dad is Mel Gibson and Ferrell's dad is John Lithgow.

I'd never go to a theater to see this (certainly not traveling 20 minutes down the road to see it)- but Mel Gibson had some funny moments in this trailer pretty much side-eying Will Ferrell and saying to Mark Walberg "this [idiot] is raising your kids."
Mel Gibson has had his issues and RDJ has been lobbying for the past few years to get him acting jobs (paying it forward after Mel Gibson did the same for him after the final rehab stint)... but as crappy as this movie might wind up being, it's at least an opportunity Mel Gibson could possibly use... I'm spending too much time on this, moving on.

Next- a "My little pony" movie... yeah, this is getting a theatrical release. It looks super cute, but maybe not something I'd ever see unless it happened to be on TV and I happened to have nothing else I need to see.

Beyond that, I don't remember the order of these trailers, but this is what I remember.

Animated movie- Duck Duck Goose where this inept goose winds up becoming dad to a couple of ducklings who sound oddly mature for ducklings who'd recently hatched.
Animated movie- Ferdinand where a tame bull is sent off to be a bullfighter and a bunch of hedgehogs want to help get back to his girl... the hedgehogs had some funny moments, so this could potentially be a good movie

Animated movie- Disney's "Coco" where a live boy finds himself in the world of "The Day of the Dead" and meets his family... I still don't know why the hell the movie is called "Coco." I'm too lazy to Google it :P I don't care that much


animated movie- Lego Ninjago... my sister wants to see this one... she's really familiar with the series. This focuses on the green ninja Lloyd who has no friends beyond the other ninjas cuz his dad happens to be the main villain. The trailers feature the two of them meeting and Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" playing (so excited for her new album...).

and I think there's one other live-action movie and I can't remember what it is. Probably wasn't important.

The Main Event

Felicie and Victor are best friends who grew up at an orphanage and both have big dreams. Victor to become a famous inventor and Felicie to become a ballerina and enroll in Paris's world famous dance school.
Once they manage to break out of the orphanage (and evade the caretaker, Mr. Luteau- whose physical appearance reminds me a lot of Richard Griffiths in the Harry Potter movies), the story can finally begin.

One thing that didn't make it into the trailers- Felicie commits identity theft to get into the ballet school. (Maybe not the first time in a kid's movie, but it kinda shocked me). But considering whose identity she steals, we can let it go.

Felicie befriends Odette, who is the cleaner at the dance school and she asks to work as her assistant. Her other job is with this mean rich lady, Regine, who had bought her daughter Camille into the dance school. After meeting Camille and Camille breaks the music box her mother gave her, Felicie kinda gets her revenge by using Camille's letter of acceptance to get into the school.

A theme repeated throughout the movie- skill vs. passion. Felicie has all the passion in the world, but she's a bit of a klutz and has no professional training. But with Odette's help (she was a dancer before an accident stole that ability from her), she works hard and makes it through week after week. She also falls for Russian dancer Rudy while Victor is trying to get the courage to tell her that he likes her.
Meanwhile, Camille and her mother do find out what happens and the situation gets a little more dire: Felicie needs to nail the final audition to play Clara in the Nutcracker or she gets kicked out of the school.

And there's also another point where we see that Camille has the skill but no passion. She dances because her mom makes her. (Maddy Zeigler, who plays Camille, was on "So you think you could dance" last Monday night explaining it just like that)

Overall, the movie was great. The animation for the people had come so far. It's amazing how realistic it is. Felicie is a plucky fun heroine that a lot of girls will be able to relate to. Her friend Victor is a great friend to her (able to fix her music box, which is a very important trinket to her).

Carly Rae Jepsen, I have not liked for years because of "Call Me Maybe." It's catchy (heck, it went viral at the 2012 Olympics and was the song of that summer), but the lyrics are so badly written. She'd had other songs, but the radio only plays that one. But since she started doing acting roles, I've come around. She was perfect as Frenchie in Fox's rendition of "Grease." And she's great here. I don't know how old Odette is supposed to be, but she could easily be the same age she is.

In "Legally Blonde," Elle Woods said during her valedictorian speech that first impressions aren't always correct.
This goes on to be true about a couple characters in this movie and in a good way.

Not to spoil anything, but Luteau winds up being helpful to Felicie later in the movie and despite his gruff exterior, there's a heart underneath there.

The biggest surprise for me was the choreographer, Merante. I thought he was played by Tim Curry because he sounded like Nigel Thornberry (he wasn't), but the impression I got was that he was stuffy and he wasn't going to budge in his opinion of Felicie (although to be fair- she was pretending to be Camille and he didn't like how her mother bought her way into the school). But he does come around. He also is very accommodating to Odette- which made me wonder if they had a history or they were related. He did some kind things for her because she was a dancer he admired and he wanted to help her if she needed it now that she couldn't dance anymore.

There's a great scene where Felicie puts on a performance at a bar with Victor and he sees her and slips in a compliment... that made me smile and hastily clap a couple times.

The review in the local paper seemed to have only one issue with the movie- the historical inaccuracies. The movie takes place in the 1870's. Someone's wearing denim. And :groan: someone says it's hammer time...

The one negative I found personally, which kinda sucked the fun out of it a few times... Camille's CRAZY stage mom. Maybe it's the hairstyle, but she reminds me of Lady Tremaine (aka the Evil Stepmother from Disney's "Cinderella"). The cutthroat attitude and the absolute meanness. There were no redeemable qualities about her whatsoever and all villains should have something in their background to explain why they are who they are.

Not only do her actions completely derail the movie halfway through (that whole 3rd act issue that's been cliché for years)... towards the end, she's threatening bodily injury and there's a hammer involved.
She said "it's hammer time" and I groaned so hard thinking "she totally ruined that for me"...


she didn't... I said "it's hammer time" about something a couple hours later and still got joy from it.

I don't know- maybe it's just a personal peeve. Up there with villains who are depicted with no weak points so it's impossible for the heroes to defeat them. [And also to derail my earlier point- it was explained why the "House of Night" villain Neferet became evil, but I still hated how she had no weak points that the good guys could take advantage of to defeat her]

I guess what I'm saying... the villain was simply an archetype. She wasn't three dimensional like the protagonist was and that's not good.


Grade: A-

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Theatrical Review: Despicable Me 3

Date: Sunday, July 9 2017
Time: 11:45am
Party: 3 (my mom, sister and I)

Directors: Pierre Coffin (directed previous "Despicable" films), Kyle Balda (directed Minions & The Lorax) and Eric Guillon (a character designer for "Sing" and several other films)
Writers: Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio

Cast:
Gru & Dru- Steve Carell
Lucy- Kristen Wiig
Minions- Pierre Coffin
Balthazar Bratt- Trey Parker (yeah, one of the 2 guys behind "South Park")
Fritz/Ramsbottom- Steve Coogan
Margot- Miranda Cosgrove
Edith- Dana Gaier
Agnes- Nev Scharell
Clive the Robot- Andy Nyman

Duration: 90 minutes (+2 trailers)

Write-up:

Opening Comments

I forgot which movie we were going to see when they aired the trailer. The music and all the fun action happening was enough to sell me on this movie, not to mention it's been a good franchise up to this point.
Although part of me wonders if it's already worn out its welcome.
We got to the theater and a sign on the door said two of the theaters didn't have air-conditioning. This is a small local place, so it doesn't have the best facilities. But hey, it's close by. That's kinda hard to argue with.
It was the three of us and three other people. Then maybe a dozen other people showed up during the trailers or the first couple minutes of the movie. But considering we had to be told we were in the wrong theater (it said 3 Despicable, so we thought it was the right movie- not because it was where the 3D version would be later... but at least there was no issues with the screen or sound system, so I really shouldn't complain).

Trailers

First there was a teaser for the Emoji Movie. It was narrated by the "meh" emoji with various other things going on. We get more from the trailers shown on TV, but they only show one trailer where it seems like the poo emoji is one of the most famous because he's very full of himself.
Me, I like these things as much as the next person. Heck, my favorites are the :P face, followed by the winkie face, and on Twitter, I've gotten into using the purple umbrella with rain drops for my Prince tweets and comments. And prince.org (a messageboard where I got my start in the fan community 10 years ago) used these things LONG before they were popular for cell phones. But we called them emoticons. And I still like that name better than "emojis"... I'm sorry, that always sounded lame to me. And by extension, this movie looks kinda lame. Like they're trying to commercialize emojis even more with a storyline that reads like a cheap imitation of "Inside Out."
I believe "Angry Birds" failed at the box office, but the fact the game isn't as popular as it used to be might have more to do with it than the idiocy of trying to do a movie about something you find on your phone. And don't get me started on the TV game show of "Candy Crush." What the heck is Mario Lopez even doing hosting that? He's probably the most successful alum from "Saved by the Bell" with various other hosting gigs on better shows and he's a part-time DJ. It's not like he needs the money... I don't think...
I'd spent way too much time on this thing I'm deeming a waste of time, moving on...

Leap!, by contrast, has the potential to be something really good. In a year where there really haven't been any standout animated movies, I can see this winning an Oscar. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
It's a story about a boy and girl who grew up in an orphanage and both have big dreams. The girl (played by Elle Fanning... whatever happened to her sister, Dakota... did Twilight "ruin her career" too or did she just outgrow her niche, which was precocious child star?) wants to be a dancer for a ballet company. The boy (played by Nat Wolff- this guy from two movies based on books by an author whose name escapes me...John Green... he's really getting a lot of good material coming his way) wants to be a world-famous inventor.
I was thinking while watching this that animation has come such a long way since Walt Disney did "Snow White"-- THAT was groundbreaking, but we now have 3D animation with really life-like human characters.
We'll see how the critics react (I don't put a lot of stock in critics, but I still check out what they say on some things), but this has a lot of potential, I think.
I just don't know if these kids are brother and sister or friends because there's a scene where the guy seems to be falling for the girl...and that'd be icky and not-so-kid friendly if they were related.

Geesh... I've had so much to say about the trailers, and I don't know if I'll have as much to say about the actual movie.

The Main Event

Here's the basic story-- Gru and Lucy (his new wife from the previous movie) are given the mission to bring Balthazar Bratt to the Anti-Villian League and thwart his attempt to steal a rare pink diamond (they don't call it the Pink Panther, but it might as well be).
However, while they manage to retrieve the diamond, Bratt gets away. And the new leader of the AVL fires Gru for this mistake (and Lucy, who says in the trailer that she'll have to fire her as well).
The Minions take this news in a positive way. Led by Mel, they decide they want to go back to villainy. Something Gru doesn't want now that he's happily married to someone who catches bad guys. So the Minions abandon him and due to some shenanigans they commit, they wind up in jail.
Gru also finds out that he has a twin brother named Dru. The whole family goes to another country to meet him. Dru reveals that their father was a great villain and he wants the two of them to go into the villain business together. Not telling his brother, Gru's plan is to gnab Bratt and bring him to the AVL to get his and Lucy's jobs back. Meanwhile, Agnes, the youngest of the three girls, is on a quest to find a real-life unicorn after hearing a barkeep in town rave about one.
And Bratt has another evil plot in mind and it involves getting back at Hollywood.

Balthazar Bratt is probably one of the most unique, most slyest, but goofiest villains I'd seen in any movie. He was a child star who had a show where he committed heists. The show got cancelled the moment he hit puberty and it got super awkward super fast to see a pimpled teenage Bratt say his noted catchphrase "I've been a bad boy."
His methods, funny enough, are real-life versions of things he did in his show. Only in an animated movie would they be able to get away with this and I thought that was kinda cool.

The best part, for me personally... his show was big in the 80's, so this guy is all about the 80's references. He wears a purple body suit with big shoulder pads. He has a keytar that not only produces a killer soundtrack for dance fights, but it literally blew Gru away and his clothes right off his back.
However, it did get to a point where I thought to myself: did the writers really love the 80's, as I do... or were they making fun of all the pop culture cheese that decade produced? It's hard to tell. Because after a while, I was even tiring of it, which made me sad. I guess you really can have too much of a good thing.
Then everything was okay after when he first unreleased a legion of his own action figures (merchandise that nobody bought, apparently) and calls them... wait for it... The Bratt Pack! [Brat Pack movies are among my all-time favorites... although the best of them is The Breakfast Club, followed by Ferris Bueller and the rest aren't quite at the same level]

As for the soundtrack... 80's songs included
"Bad" by Michael Jackson

"Into the Groove" by Madonna (my favorite song by her, by the way)
"Sussido" by Phil Collins (if you're one of those people who accused him of stealing this song's synth line from Prince's song "1999"... this movie has that 80's pop trifecta... I am not nearly THAT crazy)

"Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits (one of the best 80's videos ever!)
"Take on Me" by A-Ha


...I'm sure there were more, but those were the best of the bunch.

We've gotten to know Margo, Edith and Agnes a bit over these three movies. Margo is only 12, but she comes off as 16 (but she's also played by 20-something Miranda Cosgrove). She went from being the one in charge to the boy-crazy teenage to... kinda being embarrassed by her new stepmom, who makes her be nice to this local boy. Something that backfires, but how it resolves gets them closer as a result.

Agnes's cuteness still hasn't grown out its welcome, at least for me anyway. She represents the kid in all of us who wants to believe that unicorns are real and she just might get her wish this time to have a real one.
Edith... I still don't know what her character is supposed to be. She spent all of the last movie dressed in a karate/ninja outfit. In this movie, she likes pranking Fritz, the butler at Dru's mansion and she goes with Agnes to find the unicorn, but she's not quite believing it. I don't know-- so much attention has been given to the other two girls, I just don't get her the same way. And we're three movies in.

Of course, we have the Minions. They spend most of the movie in jail and, maybe because they have the numbers, they wind up ruling the roost. (At least it makes a lot more sense than Austin Powers 3 where Dr. Evil and Mini-Me manage the same thing with just the two of them). All the while, Mel (a Minion we hadn't gotten to know before this movie) starts regretting his decision to leave Gru and reflects on their time together. He acts like such a tough guy by leading this revolt, but the flashbacks show he was kind of a baby.
Sure, their cuteness legitimized them getting their own movie with origin story and everything... but I think that might have worn out its welcome a bit.

And Lucy spends most of the movie trying to adjust to her new role as stepmom. Which isn't perfect, but then again, who is?
One of the most often aired trailers for this movie has her saying to Gru and Dru "so you're villians now?"... that scene never happened in the movie! At one point, it appears she's starting to get the scent that something isn't quite right with those two, but there's no confrontation scene.

Of course, Steve Carell plays both roles of Gru and Dru. And they both have their individual quirks. It's kinda funny how each was raised by a single parent and that parent told their kid that they were the biggest disappointment. Yet when Gru is part of this job he's pulling with his brother, it really seems like he's a better villain than he appeared to be in the original Despicable movie. Meanwhile, Dru is a big klutz that nearly ruins everything. But they do come together in the end and come out on top.

Bratt may seem like a goof super obsessed with the 80's, but he does have moments of brilliance in his own villainy. Although there was one moment that happened that I saw through the deception almost immediately... maybe the writers wanted it easy for the adults to guess or they didn't... either way, I liked feeling super smart for a moment as long as it lasted.

The movie as a whole... it's not bad, but being the 2nd sequel of one really good movie... there were times where I was thinking it's getting stale and maybe they should quit while they're ahead.
However, the final act of the movie is really good. Very action-packed and exciting and it was fun to be back in the 80's again.

Grade: B+

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Theatrical Review: Wonder Woman

Date: Sunday June 4 2017
Time: 12:30pm
Party: 3 (my mom aunt and I)
Director: Patty Jenkins
Composer- Rupert Gregson-Williams [no relation to movie composing legend John Williams as my mom wondered leaving the theater... would've been cool, though]

Cast (in no particular order):
 
Diana Prince/Wonder Woman- Gal Gadot 
Steve Trevor-Chris Pine
Hippolyta- Connie Nielsen
Antiope- Robin Wright
Sir Patrick- David Thewlis
"Doctor Death" Maru- Elena Anaya
Ludendorff- Danny Huston
Etta, Trevor's secretary- Lucy Davis

Duration: 141 minutes (+2 trailers)

Opening remarks
Anyone who's read my blog before knows that my allegiance is the marvel universe. And I hadn't seen any of the recent DC comic movies directed by Zack Snyder. (Nothing against him- Sucker Punch is one of my favorite movies). Honestly I'd been out of it with Batman (unless you count Gotham which technically doesn't cuz Bruce Wayne isn't batman yet) since Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale ruined Batman for me forever (or at least until Will Arnett took the bat voice to better places with his performance as Lego Batman). 
Suicide Squad was also great.

But the trailers for Wonder Woman kept cropping up and looking even more amazing PLUS rave reviews so I couldn't pass this up.
And much like with Iron-Man when it first came out it got so much hype and kudos that not even a day into its debut and they're already talking about a sequel (in this case the director is returning and it will take place in modern day--the obvious route would be to go to WWII since this one is WWI but the fact they're not says they have big plans in store... wouldn't it be crazy if this character is the reason DC overtakes Marvel in a couple years? I say go for it. If I get an enjoyable experience out of it, thats the most important thing).
 
Trailers
 
I have no idea why "Rough Night" was included in this... none of the cast members were a part of this movie... at least I don't think so.
Anyway it's kinda like a female version of The Hangover- a bachelorette party gone array after the stripper is accidentally killed. And all the girls are old sorority friends. Scarlett Johansson stars and for whatever reason Kate McKinnon plays the Australian exchange student. I know I said before that I'm all for her playing these quirky roles that aren't impressions of other people but I can't help but feel there's some Australian chick out there that was passed over for this role. Not that the movie looks like it'll be any good but for the sake of the people involved (miscast or not) I'll probably be seeing it at some point 
Then we had the Justice League... I had no idea this was coming out this year. To me it looks like a darker version of The Avengers (mainly due to the lighting). Batman Wonder Woman The Flash and Cyborg were a few I caught. Then there was Aquaman who looks nothing like the comic (or even Raj dressed up on Big Bang theory's Halloween show where he laments "aquaman sucks"). He looks kinda like black beard the pirate but with no shirt and wielding a trident.
Anyway I'll have to see what the critics say on this. If there's the slightest danger of it taking down Avengers I might have to scope out the competition.

The Main Event 

We catch up with Diana Prince- I assume after the events of batman vs superman (hadn't seen it yet) and Bruce Wayne sends her an old picture of her with a small group of men.
So the whole movie is practically a flashback going back to the very beginning when she was just the daughter of Hippolyta- queen of the Amazons and her mother didn't want her to learn how to fight.
But we see very quickly a pattern that repeats throughout the movie- Diana always gets her way and does whatever she feels like.
She also grew up with a mythological story about how Zeus created man, Ares corrupted man to fight one another and the Amazons were made to keep the peace. And they are always ready if Ares were to ever return.
When German spy Steve Trevor (not Rodgers-- I know these are two different comic book worlds but I can't be the only person annoyed that they used that same first name- not that I'd ever get these characters or actors confused) crashes into the sea surrounding the amazons' island and inadvertently brings a squad of German soldiers with him... let's just say all hell breaks loose. After hearing his story Diana believes that this Great War he speaks of is the work of Ares and she must go with him to defeat the menace behind all the chaos.
As is often the case- it's something easier said than done.
 
Additional commentary 
 
For me, the movie had a great beginning and unexpected exciting ending. But the middle, not that I was bored but I admit looking at my phone 2-3 times  to see what time it was. Hearing this was a long movie without knowing the actual length was giving me a case of ADD.
Although for the mythological portion- saying that Ares destroyed all the gods before he was defeated by the last ditch efforts of Zeus... I'm sorry but as a fan of the Percy Jackson series, that bothered me a lot. Gods can't be killed, at least not permanently. They're sent to the underworld and can rise up again-- assuming they aren't banished there the way hades is (and Persephone for half the year... just don't eat the forbidden fruit- should you ever visit)
Gal Godot was amazing in the title role. She lived and breathed this character and definitely kudos to her for all the sword fighting and stunt work she did. 
Of course Chris Pine (who I'd known since the princess diary sequel) was great. Even if all he's remembered for in this movie was his "nude" scene. (They pushed the envelope as far as it could go without breaking- only his hand covering the rest of him and he was also far away and in some shadow. 
Since he was the first man Diana had ever seen in person, they had to go to the most obvious place. Fascination, innuendo and the good old "would you say you're a good representation of your sex?"
Maybe not as bad as dialogue I'd heard in both 50 shades movies but close. Then again there is no way to do it without making it awkward. There was no crowd reaction in the theater but I'm sure all the women in house enjoyed that cave pool scene.
Shortly after she explains to him that she read all 12 volumes by the muse (I believe...) Clio that talked about men and sex and how men are only good for procreation.  (The ultra feminists who saw this movie probably got a kick out of it).
One of the antagonists is also worth mentioning- the German woman known as "Doctor Death". People talk about wanting more female led movies and strong women characters. She may be subservient to someone else but she's a genius dedicated to her job. Although one could also say she's kinda mad-since this special  mustard gas is her idea.
Maybe it's because I'd been watching Gotham she reminds me a bit of Dr. Hugo Strange (he and Dr. Stephen Strange are not so easily confused as the two Steves) who was responsible for creating and resurrecting villains.
Steve's secretary only has a few scenes but she has a tendency of stealing all the ones she's in.
 
There's a lot of great action that also comes with a lot of explosions. Michael Bay might have cornered the explosion market but maybe not for long. These ones can be a tad excessive but they're also startling and almost too real at times because some come when you least expect them too.
I won't give away the big ending and the final battles and who the villain was (I had a suspicion but I was kinda hoping I was wrong).
 
I'm not one who looks for political messages in movies but one became clear during the final battle- and let's just say it was something I wish more people would realize.
 
"No time 4 politics, no we don't wanna fight.
Everybody get up, it's gonna be a beautiful night."
 

Also- there are no post-credits scene... DC must think they're too cool for them... although this movie didn't really need it...
 
Grade: B+ (id get it an A- if it was a movie I was super excited to see again... it's not like I had anything else to do that day but I'm going to dedicate more than 120 minutes to a movie, it needs to hold my interest the whole time or I just need to be in the right mindset for it).

Monday, May 29, 2017

Checking Out of "Bates Motel"


When this first came out, I was intrigued and excited to check it out (no pun intended). I'd never seen Psycho and since scary movies aren't my thing, I thought this was worth a shot. Especially since it was a limited series so there wasn't going to be a big commitment.
I remember also voicing outrage when they said it was going to be more than the 13 or so episodes originally aired. Surely, this whole prequel to this classic movie could be done in a couple months.
But in the end, everything worked out just as it should. The ending especially. It was looking dodgy a couple times in the final few shows, but once the ultimate resolution was revealed, it all made sense. And all things considered, it did the best possible by all the characters involved. Although Chick and Romero both got the short end of the stick I think... that's what was so great about the series. Weirdoes and bad guys made you root for them (not that I ever saw Romero as a bad guy).
In the beginning... 
 
This is going to sound so cliché but it's true.
At the start of the series, it was just Norman and his mother Norma Bates. She buys a motel and large house on a hill in the small Oregon town of Pine Creek Bay. This is something she does completely on a whim and doesn't even consult Norman about until they are there. As is the case with any teenager, Norman is not happy about these circumstances. And of course, Norma finds out rather quickly that she got a lot more than she bargained for.
 
I saw the pilot, I think, on the following weekend- not the day it actually aired. Knowing my Mondays, schedule conflicts most likely came into play.
I think one time I saw 2 or 3 back to back. It's seriously addicting once you start watching. I'm not a binge-watching person typically (I don't have Netflix- yeah shock/horror- and it's exhausting and time consuming) but this series is ABSOLUTELY binge-worthy if there was ever a candidate.
Ironically, the only other show I've binged... it's the one I'm covering in my next post.
 
Back to our characters though... Norma is so high maintenance and prone to overreaction, you want to kill her yourself. 
But she finds herself in trouble with the former owner of the motel (I think he lost it to bankruptcy which is why it was a bargain that Norma couldn't resist). What happens and how it resolves... there's a reason why it's on at 10pm. It was kinda startling at first. But that became part of the show's unusual charm. Barring any nudity and f-bombs, they're not afraid to "go there". [One episode later on had a "viewer discretion is advised" disclaimer and it was in reference to a final scene where a teenage girl attempts to seduce an older man... this, however, did not carry over to a 2-3 other episodes where sex or rape scenes occurred].
And drawing reference to the other series I will cover in a future post: it pushed the envelope of explicit content in the comedic department.

Also in the show we get to know Norman's friend Emma who has cystic fibrosis (she always had an oxygen tube around her nose and her tank was extremely portable-- her character lived with the disease, but never let it damper her demeanor), the town sheriff Alex Romero and Norman's half-brother Dylan. All things considered (Norma being Norma, Norman being more than a little off and the fact his father is Norma's brother) Dylan's surprisingly the most normal person in the family. I didn't like him when he was first introduced (can't remember why- it was so long ago) but it got to the point with him where I just hoped to God he survived to the end of the series. After all, Norman didn't have any siblings in Psycho.
 
The Psycho Connection 

**This is where the spoilers begin to pop up, but the biggest one is to the movie itself. For the series itself, I gave away nothing major**
 
Of course the house is practically a replica of the original.
But knowing what I knew about the movie (and then finally seeing it- what I know about that world) one thing was obviously going to happen. In the end, one or another, Norma wasn't going to be alive to see it. Heck, there was a preview to a finale where it looked like she might not make it... but she lived for another season and that particular finale was kinda effed up. Not going to sugarcoat it. But that's the thing about the series- you spend enough time with these people and you start to feel disoriented yourself. That's just how good it is.
The biggest love letter to the movie itself was in the final season where Norman runs the business as if nothing was wrong. But then Marion Crane comes to town and the shower scene happens... but it's not how you expect it. Norman did rack up a lot of casualties (I never counted but I think it's 10 or slightly less) and romance was never in the cards for him because of his mental issues. But the shower murder had a motive behind it which made him somewhat redeemable. Let's just say the person actually deserved it opposed to just being unlucky to cross paths with him.
 
Descent into Madness
The acting is amazing and so is the fact that Max Thierot, Nestor Carnobell, and Freddie Highmore each had a few turns in the director's chair (Freddie even wrote one of the last episodes- the acting was even more exceptional).
 
But the best thing about the series was how Norman's character was slowly developed over time. At first, you're led to believe- you know, his mother is a nut job and insane control freak, how can anyone turn out remotely functional living with her?  But as you spend more time with Norman, all those little things about how he was raised and how he reacts to certain situations, they all begin to add up. 
He has blackouts that grow steadily worse and it isn't until the final 2 seasons you see what happens to him during those times. 
Over time, Norma becomes more aware of these blackouts and that things aren't quite right with Norman. But in doing so, she pulls the apron strings even tighter and Norman never fully gets the help he needs until it's the last resort. Like when Norman goes to get his drivers license but Norma stops the driving test by telling the instructor about it and the whole thing gets derailed. Norman rebels but he never gets fully away from his mother and his home. It's comparable to a ghost that can't leave a house and is left to haunt it because that's where they died and it's impossible to solve their unfinished business. Except Norman is alive and the manifestation keeping him bound to his mother and the Bates Motel is in his mind.

On the other side of the coin-- Norma is certifiable in her own right, but aside from racking up dead bodies, Norman shows how unstable he really is when he agrees to check into a mental hospital for one of the later seasons. The reason he ultimately works to break out is discovering Norma got married. Granted, her past relationships have always ended in disaster and none of those men were particularly nice to her (although there was one to a very nice man that she broke off because... well, she found an excuse somewhere, I'll just say that cuz I don't remember)... but Norman is under the impression no man is good enough for his mother other than him, so he does everything to maintain the dynamic the two of them always had. Needless to say, it has some deadly consequences. I had a feeling that Norma would end up with another main character and it wouldn't end well for either of them... just based on the end of the Psycho script where it said Norman killed his mother and her lover.
However, I thought it was a tad unbelievable that White Pine Bay was led to believe Norma committed suicide... but we were there to witness the whole thing as the audience and the only other person to know the truth was conveniently thrown in jail to atone for various crimes he committed in his own career. I guess they needed to have that final season and that was the only way to assure it.
Perhaps the craziest part was how it took so long for most of the corpses to be discovered. Never mind that Norma (and Norman under the influence of "Mother") is so good at sterilizing the crime scene and how Norman's taxidermy hobby comes in handy. Or they just happened to be located near this big deep lake.
Season two, I believe, his favorite teacher wound up dead. He could be placed at the scene of the crime but he's cleared by DNA evidence that somehow doesn't match his. I'm still not entirely sure if she seduced Norman or it's all in our heads (his and the audience) but that was one of the bigger breaking points in the series. One of those no-point-of-return moments for Norman. He's so upset about the situation he can't go to school anymore and Norma homeschools him until he can get his GED. His illness is exacerbated because he never leaves the house or the motel he now plays concierge to.
 
Final Thoughts
 
Other than that I don't have much to add without spoiling the ending of the series. 
Even for those who'd seen the movie there are some surprises in store. In the end it all makes sense and it was the best resolution for everyone. Doesn't mean it wasn't sad though.
I have to get up at 5:30am to go to work, but I had to stay after the show for a cast discussion. You really get to know and love these characters, it's hard to leave, even if it's the best thing for all of us.
The part that's always trippy to me... hearing Freddie Highmore being interviewed. He is so good in this role, you forget that he's British and that he got his start in movies like "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory" and "Finding Neverland."
I also found out that Olivia Cooke, who played Emma, was English. That really threw me for a loop. Both of these actors are so good, you'd never guess they were putting on American accents.
Also need to give it up for Vera Farmiga- not just for being crazy good at being this nutjob of a woman :P but she's the one who recommended Freddie Highmore for the role. Not just great judgment on her part, but certainly a testament to his talent. This is going to be a tough role to top, that's for sure.