Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dunkirk - Review

The story of Dunkirk from World War 2 deals with heroism. It examines the brave and selfless acts of the citizens who were called to aide the British Navy with a rescue mission of over 200,000 soldiers who were stranded (and surrounded) on the beach of Dunkirk. As the German forces continued their assault on the soldiers from both land and sky, the military men did the best they could to survive long to be extracted. So, does “Dunkirk” the movie deliver on the dramatic and horrifying realties of war or should it be washed out to sea? Let’s dive in and take a look…


Christopher Nolan directed this film and to my surprise it’s under two hours long. The official run time for this movie clocks in at 1 hour and 46 minutes. I can honestly say that under two hours is perfect. The story begins with soldiers walking through a deserted street (as seen in the trailers) and then gun fire starts and the intensity builds from there. The manner in which the story is told was a bit confusing at first as it jumps around in time. However, about 15 minutes it everything made sense and it was easy to figure out where in the timeline we were as the multiple stories eventually tie together. That aside, this movie will keep you on the edge of your seat, from start to finish actually. The opening scene in “Saving Private Ryan” is intense. This movie is similar to that opening. The entire story is similar to that introduction. There are brief moments that allow you to exhale a sigh of relief but it’s back to edge of your seat and tension mounts and the stress builds almost immediately. This is the most enjoyable stress you will have in theaters this year.



I will say that my only real negative critique on this film is character development. We don’t really get a sense for the characters but that’s ok in this particular instance. The point, I feel, is to experience survival and heroism. This isn’t a film about individuals. We get to examine the cost of war. We examine what it means to be brave, to fulfill duty, to be there when called on and to survive. If time was spent on getting us to understand or care for characters who were most likely going to die, the movie would’ve been much longer. This is direct and to the point. Christopher Nolan does a great job at getting the actors to understand their motivations so that we don’t need it explained to us. We get to see it, first hand. In short, the cost of war is great and we are given a front row seat in which to view it. As events unfold, as characters survive or die, as normal individuals become hero’s and hero’s need saving, you will be on the very edge of your seat for it all.



Dunkirk” is in theaters now! I recommend you see this on IMAX. Spend the extra bucks and get to IMAX. If you don’t have an IMAX screen near you, get to the largest screen possible. The wide open shots in this movie show incredible landscapes and oceans. There are close ups on characters but there’s also scenes where the camera is so far back you get a real sense of how small the airplanes are that are engaged in combat above the water. This movie looks incredible. The story is fantastic. The characters, while we don’t really get to know them, are all wonderful in the parts they are playing. If I can recommend anything beyond simply seeing this movie it’s make sure to get a bucket of popcorn. This is definitely a “shove popcorn into your mouth while never taking your eyes off the screen as you sit at the edge of your seat” type of film. I loved my time in the theater with this story and the characters. “Dunkirk” has knocked “Baby Driver” from #1 to #2 for my Top 10 films this year. Go see this film in IMAX (or whatever your largest screen is)!



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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - Review

This story is based on a popular graphic novel that I have not read. So, I walked into the theater knowing little to nothing about the story, the characters or the worlds those characters inhabit. All I knew was that the movie was being advertised as the 3D film to see. The basic premise is that a growing threat needs to be stopped and two special agents are tasked with completing the mission and saving the galaxy. So, does “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” manage to conquer the day or is it doomed for disaster? Let’s dive in…


Luc Besson is known for making visually stunning films. As a fan of his previous films I was excited to see this in theaters. The marketing campaign said it was 3D event so I did end up seeing this film in 3D even though I am opposed to such nonsense. The marketing team was correct. This movie looks spectacular in 3D. The vibrant colors mixed with bizarre creatures inhabiting the worlds are all eye candy. Everything about how this movie looks is phenomenal. I walked out of the theater completely mesmerized. The visuals in “Valerian” are fantastic. If you are a fan of look over dialogue this is your movie.



The story was equally entertaining however the dialogue is terrible. The writers did well enough to create a worthwhile tale but then seemingly decided to apply minimal effort with how everyone communicated. The dialogue felt almost like this movie is geared for young adults and teenagers. It’s quite bad. Curiously, had the dialogue been adjusted to something more conversational to how people actually sound, this movie would have probably crushed this weekend in theaters. Sadly, it won’t and I feel the main reason for that is the poor writing. Again, writing for dialogue not story. Two different things but equally important to note.



The characters in this film were entertaining. While I did feel that Cara Delevingne was directed to act more 2 dimensional, to showcase thought over emotion, I could’ve used more believability in her thoughtfulness. Spock (from Star Trek) is a thought filled character but he is a character of depth and I feel we were also missing that here with her character. The three information sellers were a highlight of the film for me. I wasn’t sure what to expect when they first appear but they won me over immediately. I enjoyed their characters very much. There’s plenty of characters, monsters and aliens in this film and at times it deals with some dark, adult themes, but overall it was enjoyable. Plus, for some reason, Rihanna has a random burlesque dance number that showcases her hotness, which was fine. I understand the point of her character and the pivotal role she plays in the overall story. I was just confused, albeit pleasantly confused, by the sexy dance number.


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” is in theaters now! I recommend you see this movie if you enjoy visual spectacle films. The world building in this movie and the myriad characters inhabiting the worlds are equally fantastic. I continue to support Besson’s visual style and this film did not disappoint. Plus, the movie starts off with a David Bowie song which is nice. If your favorite time of year is Oscar season for complex films about humanity and the human experience, skip “Valerian.” You won’t get much from the characters. This movie is all visual and that’s ok. Variety is the spice of life and this film provides some spice. Check it out!



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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Despicable Me 3 - Review

The trilogy began with Gru being a villain and now in this newest installment we see that he’s a good guy who is actively working to stop crime on a global scale. However, things do not always go as planned and we discover that he has a brother and his family has been in the business of crime for generations. Set in modern time, he’s faced with a villain who is partially reliving the 1980’s and enjoying as much bubble gum as possible. So, does “Despicable Me 3” live up to the fun of previous films or should we lock this franchise up and throw away the key? Let’s dive in and take a look…


This is a movie made for children. That may seem obvious being that it’s a cartoon movie, however, some family movies are designed for both children and their parents who will have to sit through the film with their kids. This movie to me was a kid specific movie. I found myself bored with the story and the characters to the point of wanting to nap in the theater. The story is predictable and the jokes almost seem mapped out. What I mean by that is you could tell the joke was about to happen and you probably knew what the joke would be. I was not impressed with this movie but I will say that it was better than “Minions.”



The antagonist of the film is a child star from the 1980’s who had a key signature line “I’ve been a bad boy.” His career ends abruptly once he hits puberty because he’s no longer adorable and from there he develops a disgust for humanity and becomes the criminal in real life that he portrayed as an actor.  Overall, I actually enjoyed the dialogue of his character more than the character itself. The constant references to pop culture from my childhood in the 80’s was great. In fact, he goes so far as to refer to his minions as “The Brat Pack” which I found amusing.



Despicable Me 3” is in theaters now. I can’t recommend this movie at all. I literally wanted to take a nap I was so bored. If this movie comes out on Redbox or VOD and you want to throw it on for your kids, go for it. Kids will probably love this movie. I don’t have much to say about this movie except that the 1980’s pop culture references were great and that’s about it. You can skip this movie in theaters unless your little ones are demanding you take them. In which case, hire a baby sitter to take them so you still won’t have to sit through this snoozer.



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Friday, July 21, 2017

Act 220: It Has To Go In The Mouth

Masked Blogster, Mini Mandy, Frankie G, and Kevin talk about Netflix cancellations, the newest Sharknado, how delicious peanut butter is on a bagel, and Mandy's special place.

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes - Review

This trilogy began in 2011 and told us the story of how the world became overrun with intelligent apes who could talk. These three movies have explored the beginning of the end for humanities reign as the dominant species on planet Earth. So, did “War for the Planet of the Apes” succeed in completing the saga or was this film just monkeying around? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review…


The movie begins by recapping the first two films as the camera glides slowly through a forest (which is nice in case you don’t remember what the first two films were about.) Immediately we see that a team of military troops are on patrol and have found a trench with apes riding horses and carrying guns. The command is given and a battle begins taking lives both human and ape. From there, the film slows down considerably. The run time for this movie is two hours and twenty minutes. This is unnecessary because we could’ve enjoyed a shorter film and lost nothing from the story in my opinion. There is a lot of screen time spent on faces, walking and wide scenic shots. To be fair, the wide scenic shots look great. The scene where Caesar and the Colonel are talking is unnecessarily long too. I understand that director Matt Reeves was giving us a glimpse into the character, as well as, the motivations of the Colonel, but let’s get Woody Harrelson to speed up that speech.



The highlight for this film is probably the special effects/computer generated images (CGI) used to create this incredible world. The technology used to bring life to these apes while also giving them more human characteristics through motion-capture technology is top notch. Fear, anger, compassion, relief, and more are all captured wonderfully on the faces of each character in this film both human and not. Plus, the locations used in this film looked like something from another world, while also still being familiar enough to seem believable. Dense, lush, green forests with spectacular water falls take us somewhere that we’ve probably only ever seen in pictures and it’s great.



Overall, this movie continued the story that began in the last film with the conflict that Koba began and the retaliation of mankind. We see early on that Caesar is not interested in war (which was his stance in the last film). He’s simply trying to find a location for the apes to live in peace along with the humans who have survived the outbreak. It is an act of aggression by human soldiers that bring out the monster in Caesar and in the second act of the film we see the rage inside him spring to life. The character of Caesar continues to excel. From the first film where he’s simply an ape becoming intelligent to now where he’s a husband/father/warrior/leader, the writers involved in this trilogy did an excellent job getting me to care about a monkey. I won’t say the ending caused a great swell of emotions but I was pleased with it. I thought the writing for this particular installment resolved things for his character and the other apes.



War for the Planet of the Apes” is in theaters now! After seeing this film I’m not surprised by the opening weekend box office numbers. I still recommend people see this film on the big screen because it’s a summer blockbuster with great special effects. There’s a few missteps in this film that I’ll cover on “Brunansky’s Vlog” but overall my biggest complaint is that it doesn’t need to be as long as it is. The score for this movie was my favorite aspect of this movie and it’s entirely possible I’m listening to it while I type this review. If you don’t decide to see this on the big screen I understand. However, I do recommend that you check this film out on Redbox or VOD once available.



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Friday, July 14, 2017

Act 219: I'm Over Here

Masked Blogster, Frankie G, Mini Mandy and Kevin start with Masked Libs and talk Spider-Man: Homecoming, some new Netflix shows and stand-up specials, Mandy's childhood love of The Shawshank Redemption, and an awkward wave.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Big Sick - Review

Movies that are based on true stories can be tricky. As I’ve written before, the story has to walk the fine line of moments of value for the story being told versus here’s one more event that actually occurred in real life. Is what’s happening on screen furthering the plot and taking us on an emotional journey or are they just hurling one fact after another at us until we’re concussed with information? Let’s dive in and take a look at “The Big Sick” in this review…


The basic plot is two people meet, fall in love and get married. This is pretty standard. However, it’s everything that occurs between those plot points that make this film a treasure. The movie starts off with the two main characters Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) and Emily (Zoe Kazan) meeting at a stand up night club where Kumail is working. From there, the romance begins to blossom but with certain complications. Kumail’s family is very religious and believes that since he is a muslim Pakistani he should marry a woman of the same lifestyle. So, at each family dinner the doorbell rings and a young, single, Pakistani woman just “drops by” to enjoy dinner with them and talk with Kumail. They provide him a photo/bio akin to something you’d see on a dating website and after each date he places those photos in a cigar box, never to be looked at again, or so we think. For Emily it’s different. Her family is open to the idea of her relationship with a man of different race and religion and so when Kumail meets her parents for the first time, they are well aware of him. His family, to the contrary, is not familiar with Emily until very late in the film. The manner in which he handles everything with his family in the third act is both inspired and comical despite the sad nature of things that actually occurred in his real life.



Overall, this movie felt genuine and believable. The characters were all great and since this is based on a true story I was happy with how authentic everyone on screen felt. There’s a certain quality in this film that was reminiscent of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” however this film explores sadness and humor. Once Emily is in a coma the mood or tone of the film changes dramatically. It gets darker because the reality of the situation is just that. However, Kumail is a stand up comedian (in the movie and real life) so the manner with which he handles things helps bring levity to an otherwise depressing situation. Emily parents were also surprisingly great. Ray Romano and Holly Hunter play two parents who understand what it means to be a parent. There’s a passionate exchange towards the end of the second act where Emily’s mom (Holly Hunter) has to calmly tell Kumail (who is about to lose control and freak out) that they, as her parents, are always responsible for her. That one line of dialogue was powerful and so was her delivery! It continued to build on the realism of this film and the actors who portrayed these real life individuals.



The Big Sick” is in theaters now! I definitely recommend you get out to the theater and support this film. It’s an independent film that has “A” list talent. It’s worth your hard earned dollars and it’s even a great date movie. It has some sad moments but overall there’s more laughs and heartfelt, touching, moments. I was happy I made the decision to see this movie in theaters and I hope you join me in supporting this movie. It’s touching. It’s genuine. It’e heartfelt. It’s honest. It’s worth your time and your money.



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Saturday, July 8, 2017

[Spoiler] Spider-Man Homecoming Review

The official announcement that Sony and Marvel Studio’s would be working together to bring us a new “Spider-Man” movie was definitely something to be excited about as a fan. The casting, the story connecting to the already existing cinematic universe and the reliability of Marvel Studio’s to deliver entertaining films all plussed my excitement. So did the friendly neighborhood wall crawler swing into theaters like a boss or did the rain of a bad film wash the spider out? Let’s dive in and take a look at “Spider-Man Homecoming” in this review…


I wasn’t familiar with the lead actor Tom Holland outside of what he did as Spider-Man in “Captain America: Civil War.” I enjoyed his performance and portrayal there so I was confident his performance would not suffer in his solo film. It did not. This is the third version of (arguably) Marvel’s most famous hero. I was happy with the heart of the character as both a high school kid trying to balance his life and the masked hero who wants to stop criminals, not kill them. However, like all versions of Spidey, there lacked one element. In this film, it was the infamous smart remarks. While he did have some great one liners I wanted more. I enjoyed this rendition more than Tobey Maguires but Andrew Garfield still has the best comedic one liners as Spider-Man, in my opinion. 



The story is timed before, as well as, after the events in “Civil War.” The basic premise is that a new government agency “Damage Control” has been created to clean up the fall out from superhero conflicts around the United States, potentially the world. The team who was contracted by the city to clean up the wreckage from the first Avengers film loses their contract and the team goes rogue, creating the villainous Vulture (played by Michael Keaton). While Keaton’s team continues to find and steal alien tech to sell on the black market they run into trouble with Spider-Man who is determined to show Tony Stark that he’s the man for this type of heroic job. That’s the basic plot. To my surprise, the main villain is the most nuanced antagonist since Loki. Keaton plays an incredibly layered bad guy who is more than just a black market super arms dealer. He’s a family man and blue collar worker who sees the hand he’s dealt and attempts to make the best of it, in his mind. He’s easily the second best villain in the MCU and I’m happy to report, they don’t kill him off, even though death is part of this story. The after credits sequence continues to build on his complexity when approached by “The Scorpion” to escape prison and exact revenge of Spidey. Easily my favorite character in the movie, Michael Keaton is phenomenal as “Adrian Toomes” AKA the Vulture. 



There was also plenty of laughter in this film as we see the struggle that Peter has at High School with a very modern form of bully in Flash Thompson, his debate team, Spanish quizzes and his lovable friend Ned played by Jacob Batalon. The chemistry between Peter and Ned was great. I believed these two were best friends and the natural excitement Ned had upon discovering his best friend is an Avenger was priceless. I hope Ned returns for future films because he was a surprising delight in this film and added real value to the film. It’s possible he could’ve been played off as just a friend who is the comic relief but he has a prevalent role in this movie as “the man in the chair” as he describes himself. The silent helper who sits in a chair in front of computers helping the hero try and save the day. He was a wonderful addition to this cinematic universe and his hat is pretty cool too.



Spider-Man Homecoming” is in theaters now! If you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe you won’t want to miss this. If you’re a fan of Spider-Man films, you won’t want to miss this. If you could careless about movies that deal with superhero’s, skip it. I enjoyed this film and I encourage people to get out to the theater to see this film about a hero who has heart and is surrounded by people of similar design. At its core, this is a movie about a hero with heart who is trying to find his way in this crazy new world. This movie explores what it’s like to grow up and stand on your own two feet while also trying to not lose yourself in the process. There’s some great scenes in this film that are stolen from the pages of the comics the character originated from and as a fan I was happy with this movie.



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Friday, July 7, 2017

Act 218: Frankie G. is Afraid of Aliens

Masked Blogster and Frankie G. Talk about Spider-Man: Homecoming swinging into theaters, the greatest superhero teams, Hellboy and Frankie G's fear of aliens.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming (Spoiler Free) Review

 Spider-Man: Homecoming (Spoiler Free)

Director: Jon Watts

Writer: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley

Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier

Synopsis: Several months after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens, New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man as a new threat, the Vulture, emerges.

Review: The Marvel Cinematic Universe done did Spidey right! The tone of this movie is so uplifting compared to the heavy/dark comic movies we have been getting as of late. Walking out of this movie felt almost refreshing, much like how we all felt walking out of the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. First things first though, I have to give a huge shout out to the writers and the director of this movie. Thank You! Thank you for not making us sit through another movie where we had to watch Uncle Ben die or Peter get bit by a spider, not even a flashback.  That time was giving a better purpose to tell this story. So again, I say thank you.


The story isn’t the only part of this movie that makes it great though, the casting for this movie was spot on. To start, Tom Holland has a very good chance at becoming the best Spider-Man ever. This has to be the closest rendition of Spider-Man to the actual comics that we have ever seen on the big screen.  To top it off the chemistry between Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau, as Happy Hogan, was great. The relationship between the three is so relatable at times that it is pretty dang hard to not get some serious feels for Peter Parker.  That being said, I am one of those people that believe the villain makes the superhero. Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes (A.K.A The Vulture) really took this character and gave it wings. Yes, I’m sure you saw what I did there. Moving on, Keaton took a villain that could have turned out to be extremely lame and made it work. Toomes perfectly fits under the classification of “The hero of his own story” and it flat out works. While there isn’t as much air time as you would expect for Tony Stark or Adrian Toomes, it really helps the story take the time to show this as a Peter Parker/Spider-Man movie.  Also, Peter’s friend Ned is a hoot and a half. Actually, in all honesty, I feel like Ned is the character that represents how we all would react in this situation, down right giddy and filled with really random questions.



All in all, this movie really is just a good time. While, I’m not ready to pick between it and Sam Raimi’s 2004 Spider-Man 2, this one definitely belongs in the conversation. Over all, the characters and the story told makes this move shine bright, nothing was held back in the fights and the emotions were real every step of the way.  It is going to be a lot of fun to watch Peter Parker grow up in this world of superheroes. This movie is absolutely a must see!

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Twitter: @Maskerpiece -Masked Blogster @MaskedBlogster -Mandy @moviefreakgirl -Handsome J @jbrunansky -Matt @MpTheatreMatt
Email: maskedblogster@gmail.com
Instagram: maskerpiece_theatre 
Pinterest: /abnormalpodcast/maskerpiece-theatre/
RSS Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/MaskerpieceTheatre
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/maskerpiece-theatre/id647535985?mt=2
Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=35990&refid=stpr

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