Review of “IT Chapter 2”

The Losers Club has returned to Derry, but it isn’t a happy reunion. All but one of the childhood friends has moved away in the 27 years since they defeated the demon clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard). Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) works in Derry and has been keeping an eye out for any strange murders. As the Derry Carnival is starting, a young gay man is beaten by local youths and thrown off a bridge into the river. Pennywise pulls the man out of the river and bites out his heart. Body parts of the young man are found, and Mike hears of the death on the police scanner. When he investigates the scene, he knows Pennywise is back. Mike contacts the rest of the Losers: Beverly Marsh (Jessica Chastain), Bill Denbrough (James McAvoy), Ben Hanscom (Jay Ryan), Richie Tozier (Bill Hader), Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransone) and Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) has all moved away and found successful careers and variously successful relationships. Also, they’ve all mostly forgotten their lives in Derry. Mike contacts each of them and they all return to their childhood home, except for Stanley. Mike explains Pennywise is back, but he has a plan to kill the clown once and for all. Mike spent time with a local Native American tribe and believes he has learned enough of their magic to kill Pennywise. The rest of the gang is skeptical and most plan on leaving, but Mike convinces Bill the plan will work and their experiences since returning to Derry leads them to believe they must try.

“IT Chapter 2” was one of my most anticipated films. I loved “IT Chapter 1” and was looking forward to diving into what promised to be a carnival haunted house full of scares and suspense, plus some humor, as the adult versions of the Losers Club would likely mirror their childhood counterparts to a great degree. Director Andy Muschietti crafted a winning formula in the first film, set box office records for a horror film and was deeper than most scary movies with believable relationships between believable characters. Perhaps my expectations were too high for the sequel, as “IT Chapter Two” isn’t the kind of carnival ride I was hoping for.

Translating a dense work like a Stephen King novel in a movie script must be a daunting task. King is not known for his economical prose. “IT” also contains a sex scene between the Losers that would have been difficult to put on screen in a form audiences wouldn’t find offensive. As with all book-to-screen adaptations, material must be cut, combined and truncated to fit within a film narrative. While this was successfully done in the first film, apparently meeting with approval from King himself, the second film may have tried too hard to avoid cutting material thought too important to be left out. “IT Chapter 2” suffers from having too much material to choose from.

The film moves at a leisurely pace, never feeling like it was in any hurry to get from one Pennywise kill to another. While starting with a bang, the movie then takes its time by reintroducing us to the adult versions of the Losers Club. Each is allowed the time to establish how much of their childhood character remains and all but one is instantly recognizable. The adult Ben Hanscom is tall and buff and easily speaks his mind to those in power. He’s a successful architect with six-pack abs. Otherwise, all the Losers maintained the characteristics of their youth. Under pressure, Bill still stutters, Eddie is still a hypochondriac with a wife similar to his mother, Beverly has married an abuse man similar to her father, Richie still has a smart mouth that makes him a hit as a standup comic, Mike is stoic and smart, working in the library in Derry, and Stanley is still shy and frightened of almost everything. These reintroductions take a while and are somewhat duplicated by a scene where they meet for the first time back in Derry at a Chinese restaurant. Between this and the parts of the movie where they go looking for totems from their past to sacrifice in a ritual that may lead to Pennywise’ demise, the movie spends a great deal of time showing us who these people are, and were, as there are flashbacks to when they were kids. Much of this feels redundant, as we’ve seen the first movie and know these kids as well as we ever will. Since none of them seem to have grown much emotionally, spending a great deal of time showing us who they are now is a waste.

These long stretches of character time are broken up by appearances from Pennywise and the monstrous forms he assumes. He becomes a giant statue of Paul Bunyon, a gangly old naked witch, a leper, Bill’s dead brother Georgie, and the decaying corpse of Patrick Hockstetter, a victim from the first film. These moments are the best parts of the film as we see the Losers Club facing their fears and usually screaming and running away. I realize a horror movie must have the quiet times to set up the scares, however, “IT Chapter 2” takes so much quiet time that the scary parts feel like they don’t last long enough to make it worth the wait.

Much like the first film, “IT Chapter 2” isn’t that scary. The first film did a great job of building tension and dread even if the monster moments weren’t that shocking. Perhaps knowing what was coming (the appearance of Pennywise and its other forms) took the edge off the scares. Maybe they weren’t set up as well as the first film. The only time I was truly frightened was when Beverly went back to her father’s apartment to retrieve the postcard with Ben’s love poem. She had to pry off a baseboard and some large cockroaches scurried out. That moment made me jump. Otherwise, “IT Chapter 2” lacks any significant scary moments.

Some of the CGI monsters in the film aren’t very good. The old naked witch is clearly animated, along with a monster that faces off with Eddie in the basement of a pharmacy. It’s like they didn’t have time to finish the CGI to make it look the best they could. Maybe they didn’t think they needed to put the finishing touches on the texture of the skin or the oozing of the rotting flesh to get the point across. I knew what I was looking at, but also knew it looked fake.

Finally, and I won’t spoil anything, the ending seemed silly. They are battling an immortal enemy and the way they face off against it was similar to a playground fight. It left me feeling I’d wasted my 2 hours and 45 minutes and also threw away the goodwill from the first film. As I’ve gained more distance from the movie, I’m writing this more than 24 hours since I walked out of the theater, I’m discovering more aspects of the film I find lacking.

“IT Chapter 2” is rated R for disturbing violent content and bloody images throughout, pervasive language, and some crude sexual material. We see a gay couple beaten up with one thrown off a bridge into a river. Pennywise mouth grows rows of sharp teeth that kill three people on screen, with one victim exploding in a spray of blood. There are two stabbings, one in the chest and one in the face, and a hatchet is buried in one person’s head. One person is buried alive and another is locked in a bathroom flooding with blood. A character is impaled with a giant claw. Pennywise, the form of a child is drowned then, in another form, shot in the head. The crude sexual material is the insults hurled between Eddie and Richie. Foul language is common.

A bright spot in the film is the performance of Bill Hader as adult Richie Tozier. Hader is the expletive-filled voice of reason amongst the Losers. He is the everyman that says what everyone else is too polite to say. Hader and James Ransone (adult Eddie) play off each other well and is the closest thing we have to the energy and memory of the first film. Sadly, those two and Skarsgard’s Pennywise are all that will remind you of “IT Chapter 1.” The rest of the film is otherwise a lifeless slog that squanders a very good cast and a terrific villain.

In my video review I gave the film three stars but, in a first, “IT Chapter 2” is now downgraded to two stars. It is a disappointment.

Two new films open this week. One is an arthouse mystery while the other features Jennifer Lopez as a stripper. I wonder which one I’ll see. Whichever, I’ll see and review at least one of the following:

The Goldfinch—


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Review of “Ready of Not”

Because of the recent spate of mass shootings with multiple deaths, violent media has come under more scrutiny as a scapegoat.  Numerous studies have shown violent movies, TV shows, and video games do not cause violent acts by consumers of such media in reality.  That doesn’t stop pundits and politicians from naming media as a cause for violence in society.  Instead of members of Congress doing something concrete to fight the use of assault-style weapons against innocent victims and removing the ban on federally funded research of gun violence, they would rather blather away on opinion shows, playing to their base and ignoring their responsibilities.  Universal Pictures decided to not release its “rich hunting the poor” satirical thriller “The Hunt” as a response to recent mass shootings and a tweetstorm from President Trump.  The 2014 Sony comedy “The Interview” was yanked off the schedule when North Korea threatened terrorist attacks against theaters because the film showed the (spoiler alert) assassination of Kim Jung-un.  North Korea can’t feed its people, so I doubt they could carry out numerous attacks (or one) on theaters in the U.S.  Popular media is an easy target for those looking to place blame for all of society’s ills, so it’s a surprise that satirical suspense comedy “Ready or Not” didn’t attract more controversy.

Grace (Samara Weaving) is marrying into the wealthy Le Domas family.  The Le Domas family made all their money from making and selling board games over the last four generations.  Grace was raised in foster homes and has always wanted a forever family.  She believes her marriage to Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien) will make her dream come true.  While she feels like patriarch Tony Le Domas (Henry Czerny) doesn’t think she’s good enough for his son, Alex’s mother Becky (Andie MacDowell) welcomes Grace with open arms.  Other family members in attendance are Alex’s younger brother Daniel (Adam Brody), Daniel’s wife Charity (Elyse Levesque), and elderly Aunt Helene (Nicky Guadagni).  Arriving after the ceremony is sister Emilie (Melanie Scrofano) and her husband Fitch (Kristian Bruun).  Alex tells Grace of a long-standing family tradition:  Every new person marrying into the family must play a randomly selected game.  The game could be anything from backgammon to checkers to Old Maid to anything else.  Prior to the game announcement, Tony explains that his great-grandfather Victor Le Domas made a deal with a man named Mr. Le Bail where Le Bail would help create the Le Domas fortune if the Le Domas family established the tradition.  Grace is confused but goes along as this is now her family.  An old wooden box received from Mr. Le Bail is used to select the game.  A card pops out of the box that says, “Hide and Seek.”  Tony explains Grace can hide anywhere in the house and must stay hidden until dawn to win.  As Grace goes to hide, the family members all select antique weapons collected by Victor.  The Le Domas family scatters through the house looking for Grace as she is not just the newest member of the family, but a sacrifice to maintain its good fortune.

“Ready or Not” focuses its satire squarely on the super rich.  The head of the Le Domas family brags about buying four professional sports teams since he took over the company.  Adam Brody’s Daniel says, “The rich are different.”  In this family that is taken to a ridiculous extreme.  Much of the film is about how conventional ethics and a sense of morality is totally ignored by the Le Domas to maintain their status quo.  Grace must die before dawn in order for the family to remain rich and powerful.  Despite the pain and suffering Grace will go through, the Le Domas do not care.

While it is totally unintentional, there are clear parallels to what we’ve seen in the news about the rich and powerful and what they are willing to do.  Harvey Weinstein would flex his film making muscles to force young women to have sex with him in exchange for roles in the films he was producing.  Jeffrey Epstein uses his wealth and power, along with well-placed friends, to silence the young women and girls he sexually abused for decades.  There are countless examples throughout history of rich and powerful (usually) men taking advantage of those less fortunate and abusing them for their pleasure.  Is it any wonder most of these abusers end up in prison or dead once one or a few of the abused gain the courage to say, “Enough!”

What is at first for Grace a fight to survive soon becomes “Enough” for her.  The transformation from frightened waif to angry warrior takes a bit of time.  However, when the transition occurs, Grace takes on the mantle of hero instead of victim.  While the film does follow a fairly standard structure of peril, escape, capture, escape, there are moments of originality and sheer joy in watching our hero find the strength to cross another hurdle and escape another trap.  Grace may become a new feminist hero.

Samara Weaving is wonderful as Grace.  While the supporting cast is all very good, including Adam Brody as the conflicted, alcoholic Daniel, the movie lives or dies on Weaving’s performance, and the film thrives.  Weaving plays Grace as an everywoman.  She wasn’t raised in wealth, had to work hard to get where she got and considers herself lucky to be marrying a great guy like Alex.  Weaving immediately connects with the audience as she practices her vows early in the film and throws in a few lines about how nervous she is.  It’s an endearing moment that makes us appreciate Grace as one of us (assuming you aren’t obscenely wealthy).  As the film descends into the madness of the game, Weaving gives Grace the determination to live despite having guns stuck in her face on multiple occasions.  She doesn’t become Rambo or the Terminator, but Grace is resourceful and willing to get down and dirty (in one scene, literally) if need be.

Something you might not expect from “Ready or Not” is that it’s funny.  There are some very big laughs in the film at the most inappropriate times.  I don’t want to give anything away, but the final scene with the family leads to some of the biggest laughs of the whole film.  The humor comes more from the situation and how absurd it is opposed to actual jokes.  You laugh because if this happened in real life, you’d either scream or faint.  When you see it in a movie, your natural reaction is laughter followed by the thought, “Glad that didn’t happen to me.”  “Ready or Not” is filled with these moments.

“Ready or Not” is rated R for violence, bloody images, language throughout, and some drug use.  There are some very graphic shootings, stabbings, and an arrow in the mouth.  A waste pit filled with corpses leads to a character vomiting.  A young boy gets punched in the face.  A woman is beaten to death with a box, leaving a large pool of blood around her head.  The ending of the film is very gory.  Drug use is suggested with white powder under a character’s nose then that character being shown using cocaine.  There is also mention of a cannabis edible.  Foul language is common throughout.

I have only one complaint about the film.  The event that sets up the ending felt a bit contrived and convenient.  I won’t give anything away, but Grace is able to escape her murder a little too easily considering the family believes they have everything to lose if she isn’t dead by dawn.  That said, “Ready or Not” is a very fun thriller that delivers great tension, gory kills and some big laughs.  If you’re looking for something that isn’t based on a comic book and isn’t a sequel, this might be perfect for you.

“Ready or Not” gets five stars.

Only one new movie this week and I will definitely see and review it.

IT: Chapter 2—

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Review of “Good Boys”

Max, Thor and Lucas (Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon and Keith L. Williams) are the Bean Bag Boys, so named due to their sitting on bean bags at Thor’s house. They are in sixth grade and their world is changing quickly. Max has a crush on Brixlee (Millie Davis) but is too scared to talk to her. When he’s invited to a party by the super cool Soren (Izaac Wang), Max is told it is a kissing party and Brixlee will be there. Max is panicked as he, Thor and Lucas don’t know how to kiss. An ill-advised internet search leaves the boys scarred and clueless. Thor suggests using the drone belonging to Max’s dad (Will Forte) to spy on his neighbor Hannah (Molly Gordon) and her boyfriend Benji (Josh Caras) and watch them kiss. While flying the drone, Max and Thor fight over the remote control and land the drone close enough for Hannah and her friend Lily (Midori Francis) to capture it. The boys go to the house to ask for it back, but they refuse, trying to teach the boys a lesson in respecting women. Thor steals one of the women’s purse that contains the party drug molly. The boys will exchange the purse and drugs for the drone, but the exchange goes wrong and the drone is destroyed. Max must replace the drone before his father gets back from a business trip as his dad told him not to touch it as he uses it in his work. The Bean Bag Boys will work together and go on numerous adventures to replace the drone, avoiding getting grounded and going to the sixth-grade kissing party.

“Good Boys” may be about sixth graders, but you must be 18 to see the film as it is filled with cursing, drugs, drinking and sexual references. It’s a shock watching these children, and they are all children, saying curse words, using sexual jargon incorrectly, sipping beer and handling S&M equipment. But you shouldn’t be put off by the cruder aspects of the movie as “Good Boys” is more about tweens on the verge of becoming teens and all the pressure that puts on their friendship.

There are layers to “Good Boys” that go beyond the cursing and sex. Max is dealing with a burgeoning interest in girls and his insecurities. Thor is being bullied to give up his love of singing and musical theater. Lucas’ parents tell him they are getting a divorce. Each is facing some very grown-up challenges and they are not prepared for them. The adventures they go on to replace the drone are a reaction to their issues. It’s like one last quest as they transition from little kids to slightly older kids.

As often happens with children, the boys fear if they get in trouble, it will be the end of the world. Their parents will no longer love them, they will never have any friends, they will not be able to kiss any girls, in other words, their lives would not be worth living. While there are consequences for their actions, the boys learn important lessons about dealing with their problems, how to treat others and crossing a busy highway is insane.

“Good Boys” is rated R for language throughout, drug and alcohol material and strong crude sexual content. Procuring molly is a big part of the story. There is also weed smoked by a college student and blown in the face of one of the kids. Sipping a beer also plays a big role in the film. Sex toys are shown, and sexual references are made throughout the film. Foul language is common and coming mostly from little kids.

“Good Boys” is a coming of age story that is set a bit younger than most. Sixth graders discovering who they are and what life means (filtered through their inexperienced minds) isn’t usually the focus of an R-rated comedy, but producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have a history of creating crude comedies in unexpected ways. A cute and diverse cast makes the shocking content even more shocking, generating big laughs and a couple of moments that make you think. Pretty impressive for a film filled with foul language and sex toys in the hands of tweens.

“Good Boys” gets five stars.

This week I’ll be reviewing “Angel Has Fallen” for The other movies coming out are:


Ready or Not—

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Review of “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark”

I love scary movies. Always have. When I was a kid, a local TV station would run a 4 o’clock movie with themes and, around Halloween, it would be horror movie week. In my memory, those films would be from the British movie studio Hammer. Frequent lead actors would be Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing along with several familiar looking British actors whose names I never knew. There would be stories of vampires and werewolves and witches and demons and curses. The violence was minimal and usually only suggested. The scene of driving a stake in the vampire’s heart showed the hammer raised up high and brought down with the sound of a “thunk” as it struck the killing blow, then the vampire’s wide-eyed surprise at being bested by a mortal. You wouldn’t see the hammer actually hit the stake or enter the vampire’s chest. Any blood was minimal and only showed dripping from the vampire’s lips or the two perfect punctures in the victim’s neck. These movies, which were a decade old by the time I saw them, enthralled me and gave me the shivers as well. Modern horror usually doesn’t hold back on the gore. Each new scary movie also seems to be an effort to establish a franchise with low-budget and high-profit films with numerous sequels cranked out. “Paranormal Activity,” “Saw,” “The Conjuring,” “Insidious” and more have cinematic universes that have been very profitable, however the films they’ve produced haven’t actually been very scary. My biggest issue with modern horror (whether psychological or supernatural) is they don’t actually quicken the pulse of anyone other than the investors that bankrolled these films. Now, Guillermo del Toro has produced a horror film based on the book “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” and it appears poised to introduce a series of sequels. Given this first installment in a likely series, I have hope for these films.

Stella Nicholls (Zoe Colleti) lives with her single dad Roy (Dean Norris) in the small Pennsylvania town of Mill Valley. It’s 1968. The war in Vietnam is raging as are protests against it. Nixon is about to be elected president and it’s Halloween. Stella goes out with her friends Auggie (Gabriel Rush) and Chuck (Austin Zajur) for one last night of Halloween pranks as they are getting to old to dress up and Trick-or-Treat. The high school jock and bully Tommy Milner (Austin Abrams) has picked on this trio for years and Chuck is looking for revenge. As Tommy and his friends drive down the street past the friends, one of them grabs their bag of goodies that is actually filled with old dirty clothes. Auggie and Chuck begin pelting the car with eggs. As Tommy backs up the car, Chuck throws a flaming bag of poop through the open window, landing in Tommy’s lap, causing him to wreck the car. The bullies chase after Stella, Auggie and Chuck on foot. The three friends hide in a drive-in theater, getting in the car of Ramon Morales (Michael Garza). Ramon is passing through town, following the harvest as a migrant worker. After some conversation, Stella offers to show Ramon a real haunted house. She guides him to the Bellows house. The Bellows established the town in the late 19th Century and built a papermill. The youngest Bellows child Sarah had a physical deformity and was locked away in a secret room. The legend is she would tell stories through the wall to children that would visit the house even though she was never seen, and these stories would cause the children to die of a mysterious illness or poisoning. While exploring the house, Stella and the others find the room where Sarah lived, and Stella finds her book of stories. Soon, new stories begin appearing in the book, featuring names of Stella’s friends who begin to disappear. Stella, Auggie, Chuck and Ramon scramble to find a reason for these disappearances and a way to stop them.

“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is a fun and frightening film. It understands that horror can be lighthearted while also causing the pulse to quicken. It isn’t an easy mix, but writers Dan and Kevin Hageman and director Andre Ovredal find the right mix of laughs, silliness and terror to make the film an easy watch and easy to recommend you watch.

The characters in “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” make the film relatable and, to an extent, believable. Zoe Colleti plays Stella as a depressed and broken young woman, dealing with a mother that abandoned her and her father and feeling that she is responsible. We aren’t told why she feels that way and it doesn’t matter as she isn’t. Watching this young woman carry the weight of what she feels is her unlovability around like a ball and chain is painful. Colleti never overplays the drama in her character’s life, but it’s always there just below the surface. As the story plays out, we see it break through as Stella expresses that every bad thing that has happened to her, and now her friends, has been her fault. While I was never a teenage girl, I do remember thinking all the bad luck I experienced in high school was because I was a terrible person that didn’t deserve happiness. While those years are far behind me, I still remember the sting of rejection when a girl didn’t want to go on a date or not being selected as drum major of the marching band. While I didn’t have a vengeful ghost causing my friends to disappear, I could relate to how Stella felt and that is thanks to Colleti’s performance.

The look of the film adds to the scares. The spirit of Sarah is represented by a dark shadow that slides along the walls and ceiling, filling the room with a dread of what’s to come. The creatures that appear are grotesque in their rotting and/or deformed shapes. One, the Jangly Man, may cause nightmares for younger viewers. The creature can fall apart into its components: Arms, legs, torso and head. It can then reassemble itself if it needs to get somewhere its full body cannot. It has a voice like nails on a chalk board and it moves in a way that is indescribable. There is a pot full of body-part stew, a pimple exploding with spiders, a boy puking straw and more. It is a film that works hard to make you squirm in your seat and it usually succeeds.

“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is rated PG-13 for disturbing images, brief sexual references, thematic elements, language, racial epithets and terror/violence. We see a person stabbed through the back with a pitchfork with the tines poking out the front, but there is no blood. The pimple/spider scene may have your skin crawling. A character eats a mouthful of stew that contains a human toe. There are at least two creatures that appear to have been buried and raised up partially decomposed. There’s a brief scene showing one of the characters fishing poop out of the toilet. One of the creatures is rammed by a car into a garbage truck. There’s a creature that looks like the Pillsbury Dough Boy let himself go and grew long black stringy hair. The racial slur “wet back” is said a couple of times and we see police assume the Hispanic character is a criminal because of his race. The sexual reference is so mild I don’t remember what it was. Foul language is scattered and mild.

Early in this review, I complained about watered down horror franchises that lack any real scares. “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” manages to have some truly tense and frightening moments while still being rated PG-13 and being what is likely the kickoff of a horror franchise. Whether the quality and popularity of future chapters in this sage are worthy of critical praise and your entertainment dollar will depend on the quality of the story, the acting and if the scares are kept at a high level. Guillermo del Toro had been hit and miss over his career, creating masterworks like “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Shape of Water” while also putting out the overwrought but beautiful “Crimson Peak” and the busy and underperforming “Hellboy II: The Golden Army.” I want to see more stories that scare me in the dark of a theater, and I want del Toro to tell them to me.

“Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” gets five stars.

Several new films open this week and I’ll see at least one of the following:

47 Meters Down: Uncaged—

The Angry Birds Movie 2—

Blinded by the Light—

Good Boys—

Where’d You Go, Bernadette—

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Review of “Apollo 11”

On July 20, 1969, a spindly-looking craft set down on the surface of the Moon. Inside were two astronauts from the United States, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, taking the voyage that had been dreamed of since the first human looked into the sky and saw a face (or what we’ve interpreted as a face) staring back at him. It was a mission first suggested to the American people by a president that would not live to see it succeed. While the real goal of Apollo was to beat the Russians to the Moon, what it became was a rallying point for Americans at a time when the Vietnam War and the struggle for civil rights was tearing the country apart at the seams. The mission that lasted just over eight days, captivated the imagination of not only the United States, but the world and is chronicled in an amazing documentary titled simply “Apollo 11.”

The film has no narrator and uses the communications to and from Mission Control and newscasts of the time to tell the story. It is a smart choice to use NASA’s archival audio and video footage instead of recreations as there’s something cheap looking when actual events, especially ones that are documented as thoroughly as Apollo 11, have sets and actors employed to reenact events. A recent documentary series about the space program on NatGeo is filled with recreations and I had to turn it off after 10 minutes as it bored me. “Apollo 11” is far from boring.

The film puts up a countdown clock to important events, such as the launch and the ignition of the third stage breaking the astronauts out of Earth orbit and sending them to the moon. Despite these events being 50 years old and, spoiler alert, everything works out just fine, the countdown and a score that adds tension to these moments that are well known, adds building pressure as the clock moves to zero. It is a brilliant idea to increase the excitement of these events that were exciting and scary enough if they were experienced in real time.

Much of the technology, including the lunar lander and its ascent stage, were largely untested. The computers that would guide Armstrong and Aldrin to their landing sight were rudimentary at best and, as the astronauts approached the Moon’s surface, easily overwhelmed. Recent interviews with NASA officials that were there at the time, believed the chances of success were 50-50. While there had been numerous space flights putting men in Earth orbit and two manned flights orbiting the Moon, landing was an infinitely more complicated endeavor. The film is a testament to the technological advancement, dedication and bravery of everyone involved in getting the astronauts to the Moon and back again.

As a seven-year-old child, I remember watching the poor quality black and white TV images as Armstrong stepped off the ladder of the LEM (Lunar Excursion Module) and made history. While I knew what I was seeing was a big deal (I was a huge follower of the space program), it is only as I got older and learned more that I began to realize just how amazing seeing those images was. “Apollo 11” is a much needed reminder that we can do good and important things if we focus our thought, talents and treasure on a goal with no expectation of financial gain. Many earned a profit from our exploration of the Moon, but it wasn’t a requirement. That is the attitude we need if we are going to continue to make strides in space and on the ground. In other words, we’re screwed.

“Apollo 11” gets five stars.

This week, I’ll be reviewing “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” for (Warning: Trailer may contain NSFW language)

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