GrantTDawson

IMDb member since June 2017
    Lifetime Total
    5+
    IMDb Member
    2 years, 5 months

Reviews

The Hitman's Bodyguard
(2017)

Not everyone will like it, but I did.
The Hit-man's Bodyguard is a movie I never knew I wanted to see until I saw the first trailer. I was instantly hooked, and couldn't wait to see it on opening day. Well, I actually got a bit lucky for once as I was invited to see the movie almost two weeks before it opened. And I gotta say, it's one of the best action/comedy movies I've watched in quite a while...perhaps since Deadpool.

So what's this movie about? Well, it's about a guy (Ryan Reynolds) who used to run a protection agency before he lost a client and his business failed, forcing him to become a personal bodyguard. He is tasked by an Interpol agent to get a witness who is a former assassin (Samuel L. Jackson) to a courthouse to testify against a dictator. Craziness ensues.

While the story sounds interesting, it plays out in a pretty typical and predictable way. Not that I should have expected much more. It is an action/comedy film, after all. But predictability aside, the story does get the job done. Yeah, you'll be able to figure out how the film will end within the first 30 minutes or so, but that's not all that important, because it's all about the journey to that very predictable, and satisfying, ending. And boy, the adventure that Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds go on is extremely entertaining.

Being a comedy, you'd expect some good comedy in this film, right? Well, The Hit-man's Bodyguard delivers on that expectation and then some. Once you get past the movie's slow start, it's pretty much an all you can chuckle buffet. (The chemistry between Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson is incredible!) Of course there are a few jokes that fall flat, but they are few and far between. Oh yeah, if you're a fan of Deadpool humor, you'll really like this movie. It's not full-blown Deadpool, but it's pretty damn similar.

Now, the biggest surprise for me with this movie is how great the action sequences are. The team behind this film definitely drew some influence from movies like John Wick and Jason Bourne for both the combat scenes and the chase scenes. They're riveting, with some great humor sprinkled in.

Overall, The Hit-man's Bodyguard is one of the biggest surprises of the year so far for me, and will definitely go down as one of the most enjoyable films of the year. It's funny, it's action packed, and the story is interesting enough to keep it all moving towards a satisfying conclusion. So yeah, I guess you could say it's pretty dang good. Go see it when it comes out on August 18th.

Baby Driver
(2017)

Wildly entertaining.
Great music, awesome car chases, a bit of romance, and a couple of shootouts. Baby Driver is one damn entertaining movie. Sure, there are some minor issues with the story, but I highly doubt those minor issues will be on your mind when you leave this movie. Well worth the price of admission.

Orange Is the New Black
(2013)

Season 5 Review
Unfortunately, season five of "Orange is the New Black" is the worst season of the series so far. It's not terrible, by any means, as there is still some good drama, some funny moments, and a little bit of sex. But the story was a crawl this season. The resolution to the cliff-hanger we were left with last season leads into a whole new situation that lasts the entire season. And this situation, while interesting as a concept, gets old after one or two episodes. I mean, not a whole lot happens from episode two to episode eleven. There's some side stories and stuff, sure, but the main story is pretty stonewalled for the majority of the season. And then, when the story does get moving again in the final couple of episodes, it ends exactly how you expect it to and falls kind of flat.

There also wasn't a ton of character development in this season, or really anything for the characters to accomplish. Piper didn't do much of anything in this season, except for the normal Piper stuff that we expect her to do. She didn't do anything new, and she didn't do anything interesting. The rest of the crew doesn't have a whole lot to do either, and that takes its toll on the season as it goes on.

Overall, season five of "Orange is the New Black" is pretty boring and messy when compared to the first four seasons. It's almost as if this entire season was just a filler to get us to season six. You could watch the first episode of this season, skip the majority of the season, and watch the final two episodes and you'd figure out what happened in-between pretty easily. Another swing and miss for Netflix this year. Hopefully they get their sh*t together and get "Orange is the New Black" back on track for season six.

Transformers: The Last Knight
(2017)

An absolute train wreck.
"Transformers: The Last Knight" is directed by Michael Bay and is the fifth film in the "Transformers" franchise. So before I jump in I should give a little background on what I think about the "Transformers" films in general. I think that the four that came before "The Last Knight" are great assuming that you know what you're walking into. You won't get an incredible story, you won't get engaging characters, but you will get some robots fighting each other and lots of explosions. So with that in mind, I went into this film expecting the same. I did see that the reviews were not going well before going in, but I also figured it'd still be rather enjoyable. I was wrong. "The Last Knight" is the worst movie of the year. The usual "Transformers" movie issues are there, but somehow they didn't even get the stuff that made the others enjoyable right. I was extremely disappointed.

Plot

Oh yes, the plot! One of the most important parts of a film! Well, lemme tell you, the plot in "The Last Knight" is not interesting, at all. The first 45-minutes of this film felt like an eternity, and it felt like the story I was being told was made up by a middle-schooler and loosely connected during an English class. It's that bad. And yeah, I am aware that I just said that "Transformers" movies usually do not have a great story but I still enjoy them. Well, this story is much, much worse than any of the other "Transformers" movies. It doesn't flow well, it is not gripping in the slightest, and the conclusion, while the most entertaining part of the movie, fell flat for me. I feel like the biggest problem with this movie is that there is way, way, way too much time given to the humans. You thought that there was too much screen time given to the humans in the other movies? Well, this one it feels like the entire story is about the humans and the Transformers are just there as side characters. I go to a "Transformers" movie to see Transformers, not humans talking about Transformers. In the end, the lackluster plot of "The Last Knight", even by "Transformers" standards, is one of the biggest reasons why this movie is not worth the price of admission.

Script

Besides the plot being rather bad, the script is outright terrible. They hit you with joke, after joke, after joke, and maybe two of them land. Yep, two out of the entire movie. Not only are the jokes bad, but a lot of the dialogue is poorly written. There is nothing truly insightful said. In fact, I feel like too much is said in this film. Characters continue talking when there really is no need for anymore dialogue. Again, the scripts for the past "Transformers" films weren't all that great, either, and they had plenty of cringe-worthy moments themselves. But this film takes the cringe to another level. You definitely need to turn your brain off for this one.

Characters

I can't fault "The Last Knight" for shallow, boring human characters, because that's one of the main trademarks of the series. There's always the main human hero (Cade), an attractive female (Vivian), and plenty of smart people (such as Sir Edmund) and government peeps. You're not meant to get attached to them. You're meant to get attached to the Transformers, which again brings up the issue of the Transformers not getting enough screen time, but I digress.

This brings me to the Transformers. Surprisingly, most of them are not that interesting, either. Some of them actually got pretty annoying as the movie went on. Bumblebee is the stand out (shocker), and if anything this got me more excited for the standalone film he's getting.

Overall, both the Transformers characters and the human characters disappoint. Another swing and miss for the crew that put this film together.

Potential Audience

If you're not a huge "Transformers" fan, do not see this movie in theaters. Save your money and go see "Wonder Woman", or "Baby Driver", or any other movie coming out this summer. If you are a pretty big "Transformers fan", though, then go get your ass to the movie theater. I'm sure you'll enjoy it despite how bad it is.

As far as maturity goes, I'd say anyone above the age of 10 could see this movie.

Conclusion

In the end, "The Last Knight" is the worst "Transformer"s film yet and one of the worst films of the year. The story is bad, there's not enough screen time given to the Transformers, there's not enough action, and it has a very mediocre ending.

Zodiac
(2007)

A must see.
"Zodiac" is crime/drama film directed by David Fincher, and it was released all the way back in 2007. A decade ago! Dang, that is hard to believe. Anyway, I wasn't able to see "Zodiac" when it initially released in theaters and really I had never even thought about it until I saw it got added to Netflix this month. I immediately added it to my list and finally got around to watching it. "Zodiac" may not be as good as "Se7en", and it's definitely not the best crime/drama movie ever made, but it's still pretty damn good.

Plot

As you might have guessed based off of the title, "Zodiac", the movie is all about the Zodiac killer, and the people who try to figure out the identity of the killer. I won't go too deep into spoilers, but if you were alive when the Zodiac killer was actually active or if you have read the book, you'll know at least some of the story. Essentially, there's a serial killer on the loose in California and he likes to taunt the press/police after he successfully commits a murder. The movie follows the detectives, a journalist, and a cartoonist as they try to figure out who the killer is. I wasn't alive during that time, and I never read the book or do any research on the subject. So this was a whole new story to me, and I feel like I benefited because of that. The entire time I was trying to figure out who the killer actually was. The director does try to throw a few curve balls at the audience, but I feel like they were almost unnecessary and actually hindered my final assessment of the film. Not that throwing curve balls at the audience is necessarily a bad thing, but the twists just weren't executed all that well.

Anyway, the story kept me enthralled from start to finish. I was completely invested in the investigation by about the half-way point. I didn't look at how much longer was left in the movie once, and I even put off going to the bathroom because I did not want to pause the movie. That's how into it I was. One challenge that Fincher really overcame was the time line. This movie spans a lot of years. And sometimes that can harm a film dearly. Jumping weeks, months, years at a time can sometimes kill a film's momentum, and lose the audience in the process. But this movie doesn't do that. It can jump weeks or months and you'll hardly even notice. It never loses momentum and it never becomes a drag.

Overall, the story of "Zodiac" is incredibly gripping and well done. Fincher does a great job of making a "cold case" into a movie that actually has a resolution that is satisfying, and he is able to make even the boring stuff seem interesting.

Characters

Almost all of the characters in "Zodiac are great". They're engaging, unique, and have great arcs. But Paul Avery, who is portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., is the weakest character of the entire film. I get that Fincher was a bit hogtied when it came to each character's arc, but man what a waste of Robert Downey Jr. His character has a pretty small role in the film in the grand scheme of things and doesn't actually add a whole lot to it. He drinks, he smokes, and he helps the case along a little but for the most part he's just there. And it gets to a point in the film where he's completely unnecessary, but they give him a few scenes anyway. I mean, "Zodiac" is a long film, so cutting out these excess scenes with his character would have trimmed at least a few minutes off of the 2 hour and 37 minute run time. But it is Robert Downey Jr. so I guess they didn't want to cut any of his scenes. Now, I want to make it perfectly clear that Paul Avery doesn't hinder the film or impact it in a negative way. He just doesn't add a whole lot to it and overall seems unnecessary. The rest of the characters are great, though.

Potential Audience

"Zodiac" is a mature film. The first half of the movie contains quite a few murder scenes, and I would say that no one under the age of 16 or 17 should watch it. Heck, some people well into their 40s may find some of the scenes in this movie disturbing. It all depends on how much ultra-realistic violence actually impacts you. If you like crime, drama, or thriller movies you'll definitely have a good time with "Zodiac". Just don't let your young child watch it.

Conclusion

"Zodiac" is a great film. The story is a quite the ride and the characters keep you engaged. The film does run a bit long, but because the story is so fascinating I doubt you'll even notice how long it truly is. If you have Netflix, go watch it as soon as you can. If you don't have Netflix, go rent it for a couple of bucks–it's worth it.

The Keepers
(2017)

"The Keepers" is a keeper.
"The Keepers" is a seven-part documentary series shot and directed by Ryan White. The story revolves around the disappearance and murder of Sister Cathy, a nun who taught at a Catholic school in Baltimore.

Now, I gotta admit I don't watch a lot of documentaries. I typically really enjoy them and they get me thinking about stuff, but I just don't watch them all that often for some reason. The last documentary I watched, in fact, was "Making a Murderer", which is another Netflix series that actually has some similar elements to "The Keepers". Anyway, the point is that I don't watch them all that often and I'm never in a hurry to watch them even when I'm interested, but there was something different about this series. The trailer hooked me, hard. I bookmarked the trailer, wrote down the date, and patiently waited for its release. The second it came out I started to binge, and after I got done I waited a couple of days and then watched it again–although this time I watched it a bit slower and paid more attention. And man, I think that this is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen.

The story, as I said, revolves around the murder of Sister Cathy. That's the main mystery of the show, that's what keeps the show going. But it goes so, so much deeper than that. This isn't your typical murder mystery documentary. We don't linger in mystery for a few episodes and then BAM, we find out who did it and so forth. No. This story goes beyond the murder of poor Sister Cathy. It reveals levels of corruption and church and state intertwinement that will make you sit back and take a minute to process it all. It's an emotional ride, but it's well worth it.

White does a great job of keeping the audience engaged without having to throw in random twists or trying to lead you one way and then saying "nah, you were wrong all along, got ya'!" The interviews are also great, and his willingness to follow up on every lead that is presented to him is highly commendable. And, of course, his story telling is well thought out and executed near perfectly. But I do think that it could have been stretched to an eight or nine part series to further explain some things.

In the end, "The Keepers" is one of those documentaries that everyone should watch. It might make you angry, but it's a story that you need to hear.

House of Cards
(2013)

Season 5 Review
I was pretty late to the game with House of Cards. I didn't start watching it until after season four was released. That might have been a good thing, though, as I was able to binge all four seasons and really take it all in. Suffice to say, it became one of my favorite TV shows in recent memory, and perhaps one of my favorite TV shows of all time. So, as you might expect, I was pretty freaking excited for season five. But it felt like an eternity waiting for it to be released, especially after it got delayed for several months. Well, it finally got released earlier this month and I finally got through all of it. And while I still thoroughly enjoyed it and think it's one of the better television shows around, I think season five of House of Cards is the weakest season yet.

But first, let's get one thing straight: Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are still outstanding in this show. Hell, all of the actors involved in this production are excellent. They are not the reason why this season is sub-par compared to the other four seasons. That, falls on the story, which means it falls on the writers.

The story just isn't as compelling as previous seasons. I can't say that this is a huge surprise. I mean, think about it. The show was at it's best when Frank Underwood was rapidly rising up the ranks, power hungry and willing to do anything to become President. Then he became President and the show suffered a little bit. It somewhat stagnated, in my opinion, and it's even more of an issue this season. The first half of the season is very, very slow. There isn't a whole lot going on and what is going on doesn't seem extremely important because you know how it's going to turn out. And shocker, it turns out exactly how you expect it to. The show also tries to squeeze some political commentary into this season, and it really doesn't work. And that's because House of Cards has never really been about the politics. It's been about the characters, and what those characters are willing to do to become more powerful. That's why the show has been a little bit less interesting since Frank became President, because it was no longer about his rise to the most powerful position in the United States. It's about what he does while he is the most powerful person in the United States. Anyway, I think that they did realize this while writing this season because the show starts to take a pretty drastic turn around the mid-season point. It gets a bit of it's mojo back and starts to take some risks like we've come to expect from House of Cards. And man, by the end of the season this show is shaping up to be completely different from what it was at the beginning of season five. It caught me completely off-guard. I wasn't expecting it in the slightest, but I actually like the direction that the show is heading and I'm looking forward to seeing if it can succeed with the new feel.

In the end, season five isn't the worst season out of the five seasons because it's a bad season of television. It's the worst season so far because the first half of it is a crawl and it never really figures out what it wants to be until the second half. On the bright side, we should get a very focused and hopefully more consistent season six.

If you've already watched the first four seasons of House of Cards, I don't even know why you're reading this review. Go watch it! But if you've never watched House of Cards and are thinking about binging it. Do it. Like I said, this may be the least great out of the five seasons, but it's still pretty damn good television.

Bloodline
(2015)

Season 3 Review
I was pretty excited when it was announced that Bloodline would be getting a third and final season. It is a pretty linear story, after all, and I figured that they'd be able to wrap it up quite nicely and cap off a decent series. Unfortunately, that's not really what happened.

The overarching problem with this season is that it doesn't feel like a final season. Instead of focusing purely on wrapping up the main story line, a lot of screen time is dedicated to new (and old) minor story lines that in the end have no real payoff. Why focus on the main cast when you can focus on Ozzy, who ultimately adds nothing to the story? Right? No, it just doesn't make sense. A lot of time is also given to Kevin and his partnership with Roy, as well as his inevitable screw ups. I understand that this is a story line that they had been working towards for a while, but it really fell flat with me. It felt a lot like a story line I'd see on any other cop show. A generally good guy gets involved with a bad guy and ends up doing some drug deals, and the FBI hunts him down. Very original.

It almost felt like Danny Rayburn's murder all the sudden wasn't as important as it was in the first two seasons. The big question was always "will they get caught? Will they go down for what they did?" But they never really seemed to be in any danger of getting caught this season. That, no doubt, is largely because of Marco's death, but I figured Eric would somehow, someway bring down the family or at least make them feel very nervous. That didn't happen.

Another issue with this season is that a lot of the episodes have quite a bit of hot air in them. By that, I mean not lot of important stuff happens in a lot of the episodes. The biggest event of the entire season was Eric's trial, the aftermath was largely inconsequential. Especially episode nine, which was completely misplaced and, while I somewhat enjoyed the episode, it really left me scratching my head as to why it was the penultimate episode. That brings us to the ending. I'm kind of torn on it, to be completely honest. It was definitely a risky choice by the writers to 1: make Aguirre all the sudden not care about whether or not John was involved in the murders (in season two he definitely cared) and 2: ending the series with John getting ready to tell Nolan the truth (we assume). I feel like the ladder choice was solid, but the former was a mistake. In certain stories, I think it's a great choice to let the bad guy get away with the crime–even if he doesn't want to. But Aguirre all the sudden deciding that he doesn't care about John's confession or potential crimes just doesn't make any sense for that character. It made the end very bitter-sweet for me, and I'm sure lots of other fans feel the same way.

The bottom line is that the creators took some creative risks with the story and the characters for the final season and it didn't pay off. The main cast doesn't receive enough screen time, the story is messy, the characters aren't developed that much more than they were in the second season, and the ending leaves a bit to be desired. I don't think it's an absolutely terrible season of television, but it's not all that great, either. If you have watched the first two seasons, I have to suggest that you watch this season because it will give you some closure. But if you haven't started the series, maybe just watch the first season because the two that follow are not nearly as good.

Wonder Woman
(2017)

Wonder Woman exceeds all expectations.
Wonder Woman is directed by Patty Jenkins and is the fourth film in the DC Cinematic Universe. It's not a secret that there was a lot riding on this film. Some people even went as far as to say that if this movie didn't succeed, the future of DC's live action movies may be up in the air. Well, good news; not only is Wonder Woman a great movie, it's one of the best super hero movies I've seen in quite a while.

Plot

Wonder Woman follows the story of Princess Diana, who lives on the remote (and hidden) island of Themyscira. But one day, a plane penetrates the shield that hides the island from the rest of the world and crashes into the water. Diana rescues the man, and thus it is inevitable that she will visit the world of men (aka London). Also, obviously, she will kick some serious ass.

I gotta say, Wonder Woman's story is one of the most well-rounded super hero stories I've watched in a while. It's intriguing in the beginning, but once the action starts you are locked in for quite a ride. There's emotion, humor, and of course there's a lot of action. I would say that Wonder Woman suffers from the super hero movie syndrome, which is basically where the story follows the origin, conflict, boss fight formula. But we do have to take into account that this is the first Wonder Woman movie, ever. That's pretty crazy when you think about it, and because of that I'm perfectly fine with Wonder Woman following the standard formula. Audiences need to be properly introduced to the character, learn to care for the character, and obviously see her kick some serious ass. It makes sense and it works well.

It's not going to go down as one of the best stories in history, or even of the year, but it's still a fantastic super hero story.

Script

The script for Wonder Woman is fantastic. There are no scenes that drag on longer than they should. The longer conversations have a purpose, and the shorter conversations aren't clunky or awkward. There's also a lot of witty humor throughout which makes the movie much, much more enjoyable.

Allan Heinberg did a great job writing this movie.

Characters

Wonder Woman is the focus of this movie, who woulda expected that? So, as you might expect, if she doesn't win over the audience then the movie isn't gonna be all that great. Well, good news: Wonder Woman is great in Wonder Woman. She's likable, intelligent, and surprise, surprise...she can kill lots of dudes.

Steve Trevor is also incredibly likable and pretty funny. He is exactly what he needs to be for this movie, and while he's not the main focus he does help the story along in a big way.

The rest of the characters are secondary/background for the most part (besides the villain which I won't get into). They're all great, though, and help the movie excel to the level it does.

Potential Audience

While I wouldn't take my five year-old kid to see this movie, I would take anyone above the age of 12 to see Wonder Woman. This is a movie that can appeal to everyone. Old men? Yes. Old women? Yes? Middle- aged? You betcha. Millennial? Hell yeah.

If you enjoy a movie that has a good story and a fair bit of action, you'll walk out of the theater satisfied.

Conclusion

Wonder Woman is the first major critical success of Warner Brothers' new DC universe, and I hope that it is not the last. It's exactly what we were all hoping it would be. Furthermore, it's exactly what it needed it to be.

Heck, I'll be going to see it again soon, and I'll be buying it on Blu-Ray later this year. It was that good.

Oh yeah, if it isn't obvious already, I definitely think that you should go see this movie. You won't be disappointed.

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