Tuesday, January 16, 2018

"All the Money In the World" - Movie Review

The film was almost completed. The release date was approaching. Then, one of the main characters was cut from the film and recast in an unprecedented fashion! All of that characters scenes were reshot and the film was still released on time. So, was “All the Money In the World” able to deliver an engaging and captivating story or does this film better serve assisting those who need a natural sleep aide? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.


First, director Ridley Scott did a fantastic job getting all the emotions from his actors. He didn’t just pull the best of a character from the main characters, but even the side characters who may have only been in a single scene. For example, there’s a scene where a teenage John Paul (Charlie Plummer) is eating at a police officers home and the wife of the Italian cop is delivering a powerful performance (in almost complete silence) letting us know that all is not as well as young John Paul seems to believe. It’s moments like this that are strewn throughout this movie that really elevate this film from adequate to incredible.



The only real issue I had with this film is the pacing. There were some moments that really move and then other moments that linger and crawl by. It’s because of this, the film feels much longer than it is. Towards the end of the film I was beginning to wonder how much longer the film was going to be and, to my surprise, when I saw the run time was just over 2 hours I was shocked. It felt like I was in the theater for almost 3 hours. So, had the pacing and tempo of the film been more consistent I think I would’ve enjoyed the overall film more.



The story is written well. We get a sense of the Getty family, everyone’s role in the family, and the patriarchs grand view of where he see’s his family going. He wants the Getty name to become an American dynasty and he takes good care to ensure that they will. And while he, J. Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), seems to be cold and calculated we get a strong sense that he is not merely this way but heavily invested in those who share his name and are of his bloodline, more than he lets on.



All the Money In the World” is playing at your local theater now! I’m not gonna recommend a big screen viewing for this film. While I do encourage everyone to see this film once it’s available for streaming or rental, you won’t lose anything by seeing this in the comfort of your home. It’s a well acted film that drags on at times but overall delivers on a complex story about family and what it means to have all the money in the world. Check it out!



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Friday, January 12, 2018

Act 244: Captain America's Wenus

Masked Blogster, Mini Mandy, and Frankie G. talk about the Royal Rumble, Joe Arpaio entering the senate race in Arizona, and more while Kevin attempts to get into The Grid without his ID.

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Friday, January 5, 2018

Act 243: Faster Than Fuck

Masked Blogster, Kevin, and Frankie G start with a family editon of Masked Libs and discuss what they expect in the new year from movies to politics to life.

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Molly's Game - Movie Review

Training for the olympics takes a level of dedication, endurance and focus that very few people have. Individuals who possess these incredible qualities and are able to perform at such a level of excellence they’re selected to represent their country are celebrated by the world every four years. We always hear about the winners. What happens to those who don’t make it? What becomes of their lives? Great questions. I like where your heads at. Let’s see if “Molly’s Game” is able to answer those questions or if it goes full tilt, in this review.


This film is based on the real life story of Molly Bloom, former world class professional skier, now turned entrepreneur who ran high stakes poker games for Hollywood celebrities, Wall Streeters, the mob and more. Eventually, her story peaked the interest of the FBI and that’s the story this film looks to explore. We get to meet Molly, her family, and a few curious characters who frequent her games, as well as, a few attorneys. In all, everyone feels like they play a very specific purpose for moving the plot forward to tell the story as it was intended to be told. There is no fluff or extravagance in this film. It examines the events of Molly’s life leading up to the arrest by the FBI, the relationship she develops with her attorney, and specific moments that occurred during her time running these high dollar poker games and the emotional impact it had on her family upon their discovery of the legal trouble she has fallen into.



Overall, the story is written well enough but it’s the dialogue that shines. The story structure moves quickly and with exactness. The interactions the characters have is where we are treated to exposition and points of view that are often conflicting, which gives us as an audience more to think about during and after the movie. Each character is there for a specific reason and their perspectives either challenge Molly’s view of things, support them or create potentially life threatening moments. In all, the dialogue is often as quick as the tempo of the film but I found it to be the highlight of the movie.


Regarding the actors, I wasn’t blown away by any single performance. I thought everyone was fine in their role and they all complimented each other so that it felt like an ensemble piece even though the story is entirely about Molly and her poker game. Jessica Chastain (Molly Bloom) seemed comfortable and believable. Since I am unaware of the real life story or person I can’t speak to how accurate a portrayal she gave as Molly, but, I found her onscreen presence enjoyable once I understood the rhythm/pattern of thought and speech she had to give. Idris Elba (Attorney Charlie Jaffey) played a nice emotional counter to her rigid and calculating personality. The two of them I thought worked well against each other, however, I didn’t walk out of the theater expecting them to both be nominated for their roles.



Molly’s Game” is playing in your local theater now! I enjoyed my time in the theater with this film and I’ll recommend you check it out on the big screen only if you enjoy court room legal dramas and biography style films. If you prefer action, lusty romance, lots of special effects, robots or monsters, this is definitely not the movie for you. This is a dramatic movie that is well paced and well written. It’s people talking about life, their experiences, view points and hopes. If “Oscar Season” is your favorite time of year for film, this is the movie for you. Check it out!



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Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Shape of Water - Movie Review

The second World War has ended but in its place the Cold War rages on. America and Russia are strategically competing against each other in almost every facet and there’s always the concern a Russian spy is hiding in plain sight. A mysterious sea creature is brought to an American research facility for examination/testing and with it a new head of security to ensure the “asset” is appropriately handled. So, does “The Shape of Water” deliver on spy meets romance meets monster movie or should we pour this film into the bowl and flush? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.


Guillermo del Toro steps back into the writing and directing chair to deliver a story that’s layered, complex, nuanced and believable. For the unique and stylized world this film exists in, the fact that Guillermo was able to make this story (as well as the characters) as real as it feels speaks to the incredible talent that he possesses. It also shows us the magnificent ability he has to invoke the realest sense of emotion from his actors.



The basic premise is a sea creature is found and brought to a research facility for examination and testing. While in confinement, two of the janitorial staff are made aware of its presence and one of them, Elisa (played by Sally Hawkins) finds this creature more fascinating than others. The new head of security and one scientist are constantly at odds with regard on how to properly handle the monster; meanwhile, a five star general needs to ensure that the asset does not fall into Russian hands. The story continues to build until the very final scene of the film where all loose ends are tied up and we’re shown that this movie was made with incredible care.



The story slowly reveals layer after layer as we get to know all the characters. We find out there’s more to each individual than initially shown as conversation after conversation leads us further into the relationship we’re building with these individuals, until the finale, when we fall back into our theater seats, exhausted, and pleased, with how well this film was written. Each character stands apart with a personality so unique it’s difficult to thumb who exactly is the absolute villain in this movie. This is not to suggest that we don’t get hints and clues to who the antagonist is; however, the writing is done so brilliantly that upon conclusion the plot and themes can be dissected into different camps of thought which all could be correct if you can argue your views as well as this film told its story.



The creature, or asset, did resemble the infamous “Creature from the Black Lagoon.” Its origin in this film is almost identical to the origin in the old black and white monster movie from 1954. Much to my surprise, there’s a fresh new approach to the creature I am familiar with and that was just another slice of enjoyment for me as I watched this creature begin as a mysterious monster and develop into something so much more. Both the creature and Elisa could not speak and the amount of emotional energy they both expel on screen was remarkable. Elisa (Sally Hawkins) did a phenomenal job in her role as she expressed the full spectrum of being alive for us on the big screen. Her intimate moments, her fears, her joy, her friendship, her work ethic, her anger and indignation. She delivers it all beautifully and I’m happy to report every other main character does the same.



The Shape of Water” is in theaters now! I’m definitely recommending a big screen viewing of this incredibly artistic story about a monster and the way its able to bring out the best (and arguably the worst) in those it comes into direct contact with. There are a few moments that might make your head turn sideways because, again, this film deals with a sea monster and humanity. But those moments are delivered in a manner that’s understandable because of how much we understand the humans involved in each scene. “The Shape of Water” is in your local theater now. Definitely get out of your house and Go. See. This. Film!



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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Greatest Showman - Movie Review

The circus is a spectacle by its nature but adding song and dance numbers to an already extravagant show feels a bit over-the-big-top. Next, add some up and coming talent to the mix along with one established and respected actor and this might be the greatest show in theaters. So, does “The Greatest Showman” actually deliver a story worthy of the Barnum name or did they only send in the clowns? Let’s dive in and take a look in this review.


The trailers led me to believe that this film would be about PT Barnum and his struggle to bring about the most recognizable show in show business. That’s about one third true. The basic story is split into what I believe are thee separate stories that are all intertwined. We have Barnum and his family trying to achieve a lifestyle that he (Barnum) believes in. We have a forbidden romance between a street performer (who is black) and a youthful socialite (who is white). This is only “forbidden” because, well, the time period wouldn’t afford such relations between such disparate classes of people. More importantly, during the years this film is supposedly taking place, (1850-1860’s) the Civil War is occurring and while it takes place in New York, there’s no dynamic reached in this film that emphasises how terrible it must have been for a young black woman performing in a circus, all the while, a young influential white man is keen on her. I feel this aspect of the story was completely ignored because it should’ve been much more dramatic and it was not. It felt like two kids who could and wanted to fall in love but didn’t because of any number of superficial reasons. His suit looks  funny. Her socks are weird. Pick a superficial reason, any reason, and that could easily be why they seemed reluctant to explore the budding relationship. Finally, the story took time to show us the value of inclusion. By accepting those who are different the opportunity is available to create a new sense of community and family. This third aspect of the story I feel they did the best job telling of the three stories being told.



In all, the three parts to this story were not well developed. The story is minimal details, and enough, just enough, to tell the story they wanted to tell without it being overly confusing or sluggish. The pacing of the film worked well for me because it felt like the movie just kept moving along without delay. I won’t say that the pacing was my favorite aspect of my time spent in the theater but it was definitely a positive plus for this film. While we aren’t getting a lot of character development or back story, the main stories are progressing at a steady tempo which made the overall time at the movies seem rather short, surprisingly.



This review would not be complete if I didn’t mention the music and dancing since the film is a musical. I think I’ve reached that point in my life where the “new” way of doing things makes me feel old. As someone who used to perform in and help with live stage musicals, I’m accustomed to a certain style or sound for the song and dance numbers. This had a completely fresh and modern feeling which I wasn’t particularly pleased with. In fact, one of the songs sounded so much like a “Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine” number I wanted a margarita in the movie. I resisted the urge and continued enjoying my unsweet iced tea. That aside, this films musical numbers could easily be on the radio during a Top40 countdown segment. They didn’t feel like musical numbers. They all felt like modern pop tunes with people singing and dancing to them inappropriately dressed. (I say inappropriate because there’s no reason for people to dress like a chimney sweep in todays musical landscape unless that’s some new fashion thing I’m not aware of because I’m old.) However, the choreography was spectacular! The timing of the dance moves were all blocked so well I was eating it up. If this film did one thing exceptionally well, it was the choreography. I was absolutely delighted by how everyone moved and shook for each song. Also, I heard a rumor that Zendaya did her own stunt work during one of the songs and if true, WOW! You’ll know the scene when you see the movie, assuming you see it.



The Greatest Showman” is in theaters now! I’m not gonna recommend a big screen viewing for this film. It isn’t terrible but by waiting for it to hit DVD or BLU-Ray you won’t be missing anything either. This film can be just as enjoyable from the comfort of your favorite bean bag chair, futon, recliner, love seat or sectional. There’s a lot of incredible dancing and pageantry but that’s not enough to save the film from stories that are too thin to make any lasting or impactful impression.



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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

"Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" movie review

In 1995 we were introduced to a board game that was a fully immersive experience for its players. The game didn’t suck its players into its world; however, a new reality in the players world was created that forced them to complete each stage of the game. So, does “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” live up to the original or is this game better left on the shelf? Lets dive in and take a look in this review.


The film begins by showing us how the game evolves from a board game to a video game. From there, the story is off and running. In fact, the story is actually written so well that, despite its impossible situations, it makes sense. I was pleasantly surprised by the attention to story-telling that takes place. Everything from characters in the game being unable to say or do anything contrary to their programming, to how the main characters revive after dying, to using their special abilities, to level challenges, it all worked for me. It felt like I was actually watching a video game come to life and because of that, I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would. Literally, the majority of the story is moving through video game levels without losing all 3 of there avatars lives. It was so much fun.



The characters were also so different from each other that the onscreen chemistry really played well. The teenage actors and the adult actors all bought something special to their role and while nobody really delivered a knock out Oscar worthy performance, they weren’t supposed to. This movie is action, adventure and comedy from almost beginning to end. And to the credit of the movie, each actor was enjoyable in their role.



“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” is in theaters now! I’m definitely recommending a big screen viewing of this film. I do want to warn parents with small children that there are some scenes with the villain that might be a bit scary. He controls all the animals and insects on the island the game takes place, and from time to time, he has insects and scorpions crawling in and our of his face. So, if you don’t want your kids to have nightmares, you may let them skip this one in theaters. If your kids saw “Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom” this probably won’t be a bother. If not, you have been warned. Otherwise, I hope you all enjoy this film on the big screen. I know I did and I’m looking forward to a second viewing. Check this movie out!




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Follow Maskerpiece Theatre:
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Friday, December 29, 2017

Act 242: Anna Nicole Brown Simpson

Frankie G's family stops in for some Masked Libs before he, Masked Blogster, and Kevin deal with a drunken disruptor who claims to have some Hollywood connections. Also, is there a Mr. Mrs. Blogster? Listen to find out!

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Follow Maskerpiece Theatre:
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Friday, December 22, 2017

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" SPOILER FILLED Review.

The resistance is scattered, the Jedi are all but extinct, the First Order is a dominating presence in the galaxy and the Skywalker family is front and center in this story which is the 8th of 9 films in the saga. So, does “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” deliver on a story that’s both fresh and familiar or should we blast this film like Alderaan? Let’s dive in and take a look in this SPOILER FILLED review.


The story, unfortunately, wasn’t paced very well. The beginning sprints to tell us who the major players in this film will be. Then it slows down while Rey and Luke are on the island together. There’s also a hacking sequence that takes place with Poe, Finn and (newly introduced) Rose where they must travel to find Maz Kanata’s special hacker on a distant planet. That entire planet sequence, by the way, felt like it was ripped right out of the “Fifth Element” movie. It’s all plot building but also it’s not because this film doesn’t conclude like the typical second of a three movie story arc. This movie ends and it almost feels like that’s the actual end and we could get 3 more films to explore where this one leaves off. Also, this film tells us that Leia knows how to use the Force more than just to communicate across the galaxy with Luke but there’s no explanation in this movie for how she’s come to wield this power. Only a musical cue that lets us know force wielding is about to happen.



Speaking of Leia… one of the worst scenes in the film involves her death, or lack there of. Carrie Fisher died in real life and people wondered, rightfully so, how that would, if it would at all, play into this story. At the very beginning of the film, the bridge of the ship she’s on is blown to bits and she’s cast into the void of space to die. I sat in my theater seat with a smile on my face because the story made sense so far and it also answered the big question, “which of the main 5 characters left will die?” And, it was answered at the very beginning which means we can enjoy the film without the worry or concern of, “WHO’S IT GONNA BE??” But then, it back tracks that decision in a very peculiar way. She doesn’t die, because, well, the Force?



Luke’s return was fantastic. However, so much screen time is wasted on his character it confused me. I don’t need to see Luke spear fish on this secluded island. Or milk an alien and then drink that milk from a thermos. Let’s move the story along. However, he had the most enjoyable moments from his introduction to the end of the film. Mark Hammil delivers on a performance that shows incredible emotional range and I couldn’t have been happier with his performance. However, the ending of the film was beyond frustrating. At the end, we see him enjoying a sunset which I took to be a metaphor for the end of his old ways and the beginning of something new, because of his conversation with Master Yoda, which was probably my favorite moment in the movie, FYI. The realization he comes to that in order to lead you must instruct and educate on success and failure was leading me to believe it would be important later on. For it is in the understanding of both, that balance is brought and fulfilled learning can be accomplished. But no. Not even close. He just dies staring at the sun. No muss. No fuss. No clean up on aisle Jedi. He just passes on into the Force. I was so upset I could’ve walked out of the theater. Leia gets to live, miraculously, without explanation, but Luke dies? Shut your face. This is ludicrous.



The writing was also a weird blending of what felt like a Marvel movie (with regards to humor) meets classic Star Wars. In fact, the opening of the movie where Poe is trying to talk with Hux pulled me out of the film. I actually thought, “This isn’t Star Wars… I’m not sure what this is right now.” There were some jokes that landed. I particularly enjoyed the first time Luke gives Rey a lesson in the force and tells her to reach out. That did get an audible laugh from me. However, that didn’t feel like Star Wars as much as it could’ve been a joke in the British sit-com, “The I.T. Crowd.” I imagine that dialogue would’ve been played out by the characters Roy and Jen. Star Wars, as a franchise, has always been more serious and dire. The characters that bring humor do so naturally because it’s built into the construct of who that character is. Again, this felt like an odd blending of forced and natural humor. Finn and Rose had some great natural comedic moments because I believed that their characters would do and say certain things. Also, Benecio Del Toro plays a hacker named D.J. who is basically a tech mercenary. His allegiance is to money and not a particular side. While his character is very minor it did elevate the tension of the film towards the end of the second act. Also, since this paragraph is about the comedic moments, the manner in which he spoke reminded me of the guy who’s hit by lighting 66 times in the movie, “The Great Outdoors.” His stutter really took me out of the film because I kept laughing at humorous moments from “the Great Outdoors.” However, it’s believable that his character might stutter if he’s been electrocuted so many times from hacking various items, ships, etc.



Snoke is completely useless. Another major frustration for me. He’s built up in “The Force Awakens” and this film until he’s easily sliced in half. We have so much story building with Snoke and Kylo. As Yoda said in “Star Wars: Phantom Menace”, “Always two there are, no more, no less. A master and an apprentice.” So, by killing Snoke, now there are not two. It all feels thrown away because he’s killed. Also, there’s still no explanation on how Snoke got to Kylo Ren while he was training at the Jedi Temple with Luke. The story just keeps mentioning that it was Snoke who convinced Ben Solo to become Kylo Ren. We don’t know how… still… after two movies… and now Snoke is dead.



The biggest positive for me was the writing. Stay with me. This film is unbalanced which makes this a difficult review to give. There are a few films that have an altered structure for telling the story. Instead of Act 1, 2 and 3, we get Act 1, 2, 3.1 and 3.2. Minority Report is an example of a movie that felt like it was ending but kept going just a little bit longer to give us more and to really give a strong ending. That was this film. While I hated the fact Luke dies and Leia lives, the ending works in this story. And because of this ending, we get an incredible lightsaber battle which has another great lightsaber battle just before it. Plus, there are some awesome spaceship explosions in this film. One of which is done very creatively and, in both viewings, got an audible *gasp* from the audience.



“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is in your local theater now! I’m recommending a big screen viewing. It’s a really great looking film. While the story doesn’t deliver 100% it’s still worth your time and hard earned dollars. There’s some big writing issues for me in this story but the overall movie works.  Also, I’m still trying to decide who has the best single line in the film. Is it Luke when he’s speaking to Rey and then again when he is speaking to Kylo? Or is it Rose, when she’s speaking with Finn about how the resistance/rebellion will win after having saved his life. Go see this movie!!



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Follow Maskerpiece Theatre:
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Act 241: Disrobed


Masked Blogster, Mrs. Blogster, Mini Mandy, and Kevin discuss some people wandering in their bathrobes, trailers for some big 2018 movies, The Last Jedi, the new additions to the MCU, DC TV shows, and more.

To listen, click here. To download, right click and "Save As..."

Get books, comics, graphic novels and more at bunny17media.com. Use the code MASK at checkout for 15% off your purchase!


Follow Maskerpiece Theatre:
Website: abnormalentertainment.com/maskerpiecetheatre
Facebook: /MaskerpieceTheatre and Fan Page
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

Maskerpiece Theatre is sponsored by MoviePass. See unlimited movies at a theater near you for a low monthly rate.

You can support our show  and Abnormal Entertainment on our Support Us page.