Movies

Movies

Sat
28
Dec

Little Women, Big Mess

Little Women

GRETA GERWIG's directorial rewrite of Louisa May Alcott's American classic is a sprawling mess of a period piece that meanders about, hopping backward and forward in time to finally get to its quiet and unsatisfactory conclusion.

Thu
12
Dec

Jumanji: The Next Level Delivers More Cast, Less Fun

Jumanji: The Next Level opens in the US on 12/13/19.

There are a handful of movie sequels that have surpassed the original: Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Captain America: Civil War, Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. Toy Story 2 and maybe The Godfather II could also be on that list. How about Jumanji: The Next Level which hits theaters in the US on 12/12/19?

Finally...there's something even the presence of Dwayne Johnson can't improve. It would be more accurate to call it "The Next Level Down." There was a genuine sense of fun and enery to be found in the first reboot of the Robin Williams classic. While the cast tried hard to recapture that elusive chemistry that made the previous film work so well, the sequel failed to reach the next level this time.

Fri
06
Dec

Ready or Not a Foray into Comedic Gore-Porn

Ready or Not Blu-ray

When Grace (SAMARA WEAVING) accepted a marriage proposal from Daniel Le Domas (ADAM BRODY), she expected her life to change. After all, the Le Domas clan was richer than Croesus, and their reputation was global. What she didn't plan for, however, was the wedding night tradition of midnight game play. The Le Domas dynasty had been built on marketing games, and it had been a long-standing tradition that upon any wedding, the new family member would be assigned a random card from a puzzle box, detailing the game to be played. It could be checkers, chess, backgammon...anything at all.

But one game required different rules than all the others: Hide and Seek. That's the game when the family knew their ages-old benefactor demanded a sacrifice be made. So when Grace pulls that card, and goes off to find a hiding place, she is completely unaware that the family is preparing to come looking for her -- armed to the teeth!

Wed
27
Nov

Stars Shine But Dimly in By-the-Book Buttons: A Christmas Tale

Buttons a Christmas Tale

I will say this for Tim Janis's BUTTONS: A CHRISTMAS TALE: it's heart is in the right place, and it delivers familiar faces -- and voices -- at every turn. Beginning with narration from KATE WINSLET and ROBERT REDFORD, we waste no time in being introduced to legendary actor DICK VAN DYKE, leaving a note at the doorstep of Mr. & Mrs. Hill (PAUL GREENE, ABIGAIL SPENCER). A child is at the hospital awaiting adoption, and the Hills are too eager to rush there to fill that role.

At that same time, Emily (NOELLE PARKER) is brought to the hospital, brought to Mother Genevieve (ROMA DOWNEY), to the chagrin of the doctor (STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION's JOHN De LANCIE). He makes it clear that she can't stay past the night, as this is a private hospital for paying patients.

Tue
26
Nov

Official Secrets Compelling Window into Iraq War Run-Up

Official Secrets

The events of OFFICIAL SECRETS are true, and that's what makes the film so magnetic. It's not overblown with explosions, high-speed chases, or tense confrontations. It's a sequence of human decisions, facts, denials, and consequences.

Katharine Gun (KIERA KNIGHTLEY) was working as a translator for the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British counterpart to the United States' NSA. Between the events of 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq, she was one of several recipients of a confidential email from the NSA, requesting assistance from GCHQ to dig into the backgrounds of several United Nations representatives for the purpose of finding leverage on them that could garner their votes for an invasion. Torn between duty and conscience, Katharine ultimately printed the email and, through a series of back-channels, got it into the hands of reporters at The Guardian.

Sat
23
Nov

Elsa and Anna Go Into the Unknown in FROZEN II

Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Sven Go Into the Unknown for FROZEN II

FROZEN 2 has a high bar to get over, what with the first film having produced a main theme that won an Oscar, a Grammy, and a Critics Choice award. But this film is all about taking leaps, as the characters go through their own transformations in this richly layered tale that is more stage musical than its predecessor.

It's autumn in Arendelle, the season that reminds us that life changes. And where the scenery does this with subtlety, Olaf the Snowman (JOSH GAD) does it with overtness. He's rather old for a snowman now, and with age comes a certain wisdom. Anna (KRISTEN BELL) assures him there are some things that will remain constant. Remember them, there will be tragic callbacks later to them in the movie. While Anna comforts Olaf that things will go on changeless, Kristoff (JONATHAN GROFF) is preparing to introduce a big change in his and Anna's life by proposing -- if he could ever get the words out without Anna finding a self-conscious way to twist all his words.

Fri
22
Nov

Blinded by the Light of Bruce Springsteen

Blinded by the Light

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT is a coming of age tale set in a small town in Britain. Javed (VIVEIK KAIRA) is a British young man of Pakistani descent. His father and mother (KUVLINDER GHIR, MEERA GANATRA) both emigrated from Pakistan for a better life. But this is the UK of the 1980s, and teens walk the streets wearing swastikas. Pakistani homes are assaulted with grafitti, and Pakistani men are attacked on the street.

Javed is uncertain what path his life will take, but he knows he doesn't want it to be the path his father puts him on. He writes lyrics for his best friend, Matt (DEAN-CHARLES CHAPMAN), who fronts for a rock band, and he dreams of going to London to make it on his own there.

Thu
21
Nov

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD Challenges You To Accept And Give Basic Human Kindness

Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, opening everywhere November 22, 2019

The first thing you'll need to know about Tom Hanks' latest film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, opening everywhere November 22, 2019, is that it's not a biography of Fred Rogers, the widely beloved star of the long-running children's television program Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. That was covered perfectly by last year's Academy Award nominee Won't You Be My Neighbor. This film features Hanks as Rogers, but the story is not about the man. The story is about impact Mr. Rogers had on the people who were fortunate enough to meet him.

Tue
19
Nov

When the Subplot is More Engaging than the Main: Angry Birds 2

The world is all divided into three parts. On the first, there is the island of the flightless birds, who get around in the air through the use of giant slingshots. On the other island live the green pigs, with whom the birds are at constant prank war. Chief among the warrior birds is Red (JASON SUDEIKIS), who is revered because he protected the island from the pigs and their leader, Leonard (BILL HADER) with the help of his friends Chuck (JOSH GAD) and Bomb (DANNY McBRIDE).

But there is a third island, an island of ice, newly discovered and declaring war upon the lands of both pig and bird, launching giant iceballs through the air and reigning down not pranks but destruction. Having a common enemy, birds and pigs forge a truce to work together and stop the mad plans of Zeta (LESLIE JONES) who seeks revenge against the one who jilted her years ago -- Mighty Eagle (PETER DINKLAGE).

Sat
16
Nov

Dora Brings Nostalgic Chuckles, But Inconsistencies Plague This Nickelodeon Release

Dora and the Lost City of Gold Bluray

The idea of adapting the Nickelodeon pre-school cartoon series, DORA THE EXPLORER, into a matured teenaged jungle expert is, quite frankly, an idea that should have been money in the bank. From the trailers, we see all the classic DORA touchpoints that seem deservedly odd in a live-action film, such as young Dora breaking the fourth wall and asking the audience if they can say a word. That's a cute throwback to the cartoon series. 

When we first meet Dora, she's six years old, and living in the jungle with her parents, Elena (EVA LONGORIA) and Cole (MICHAEL PEÑA), and her cousin Diego. When Diego has to go back home to the city (Go, Diego! Go!), Dora is left with no one her own age with whom to relate.

Sun
10
Nov

Last Christmas, Worst Christmas

Last Christmas

Kate (EMILIA CLARKE) is a professional elf in the employ of Santa. No, she's not at the North Pole; Santa is her grouchy Asian boss, played by MICHELLE YEOH. Kate's a bit of a cock-up, going from flat to flat, wherever she can find a friend who will let her flop for the night. Her parents live in town, but she can't stand being around her overprotective mother. Kate's attitude also carries over into her job, which she treats with apathy and carelessness, being more focused on getting the big audition that will launch her music career.

When she encounters Tom (HENRY GOLDING), her life begins to slowly change. She finds him weird at first, and she continues dating other people (if we define dating as "sleeping around"). But the more she bumps into him, the more she is drawn to this blissfully zen-like man, who is always "looking up" and finding new things to appreciate.

Fri
08
Nov

Cena Expands Comic Range in Family-Friendly Playing With Fire

PLAYING WITH FIRE is the kind of family comedy we've seen before: kids vs. adults, with the kids safely maneuvering around dangerous situations, while formerly unflappable adults are suddenly incapable of handling themselves because they are new to dealing with children.

That's the setup for when a crew of smokejumpers go to a cabin fire, where they find three kids -- Brynn (DEADPOOL's BRIANNA HILDEBRAND), Will (CHRISTIAN CONVERY, DESCENDENTS 3), and Zoey (FINLEY ROSE SLATER in her acting debut) -- huddled under a piece of debris. Superintendent "Supe" Jake Carson (JOHN CENA, BUMBLEBEE) pulls them out of harm's way, and almost immediately comic incompetence ensues.

Sun
03
Nov

Move Over, Hallmark. Christmas Jars is Already This Year's Most Heartwarming Holiday Tearjerker

Christmas Jars

Over the past several years, the broadcast bands get more and more flooded with sentimental holiday romance films. From Hallmark to Lifetime, from the occasional theatrical release to the annually repeated standards, the plethora of yuletide romance flicks are thick enough to drown in your own pile of tissues. They blend into each other, become predictable. Often you can recognize the plot from another movie and see they've merely changed the names, or the career, or made the single mom with a too-cute son a single dad with a precocious daughter. So it takes a lot for a new Christmas feature to stand out from the pack.

CHRISTMAS JARS, from Director Jonathan Wright, does more than stand out -- it stands apart, wasting no time at all in grabbing the viewer by the heart and squeezing.

Sat
02
Nov

Lion King Roars onto Blu-ray

Lion King Bluray

Disney is on a roll when it comes to producing "live action" versions of their animated classics, and their release of THE LION KING is no exception. Now, with Christmas on a collision course with all of us, the House of Mouse has released this CGI masterpiece to the home video market, including Blu-ray and Digital.

Tue
29
Oct

The Crew of the NSEA Protector Returns in Steelbook Edition of Galaxy Quest

Galaxy Quest 20 Year

Has it really been twenty years since TIM ALLEN, SIGOURNEY WEAVER, ALAN RICKMAN, TONY SHALHOUB, SAM ROCKWELL and DARYL MITCHELL took off aboard the NSEA Protector to explore the farthest corners of the galaxy -- only to have their voyage cancelled on a cliffhanger? See, GALAXY QUEST was just a television show, a science fiction classic beloved by fans and made into the centerpiece of conventions, much to the chagrin of the actors of the series -- Jason Nesmith, Gwen DeMarco, Alexander Dane, Fred Kwan, Guy Fleegman, and Tommy Webber -- who found themselves typecast into their roles and condemned to make a living through special appearances and autographing photos. The only one really into it is Nesmith (ALLEN), but when he overhears two teens talking about how pathetic his life must be, it shakes his confidence.

Mon
28
Oct

Arrow Video Releases RINGU on Blu-ray (Video Review)

RINGU Collection

In 1998, director Hideo Nakata (Dark Water) unleashed a chilling tale of technological terror on unsuspecting audiences, which redefined the horror genre, launched the J-horror boom in the West and introduced a generation of moviegoers to a creepy, dark-haired girl called Sadako. The film s success spawned a slew of remakes, reimaginations and imitators, but none could quite boast the power of Nakata s original masterpiece, which melded traditional Japanese folklore with contemporary anxieties about the spread of technology.

Sat
26
Oct

Legends Collide in Lon Chaney Biopic, Man of a Thousand Faces

Man of a Thousand Faces

I've been at this gig of reviewing movies for a while now; enough to call it a career. And it's always good when something pops up to remind you that this industry has been going on a lot longer than your little blip on the radar, and produced things of a caliber that 3D CGI multip-part franchise stunt casting will never attain.

Case in point: MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES. This two-hour biopic presents the life of Lon Chaney, an icon of the industry known for his commitment to parts, but moreso for his ability to portray any role, no matter how foreign or grotesque.

Fri
25
Oct

Charlie's Angels Go Full Throttle Back to Blu-ray Before Taking Flight in Theaters

Charlies Angels Full Throttle Blu-ray

With CHARLIE'S ANGELS preparing for yet another attempt at theatrical acclaim, it seems almost counter-productive to release CHARLIE'S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE on Blu-ray to remind viewers of just how well things went in the past for this franchise's attempts to make it on the big screen.

Let's face it. FULL THROTTLE was purely for self-referential nostalgia, in-jokes, and gratuitous giggle-and-jiggle. The plot was thinner than Twiggy, with the Angels having to track down two metal rings that, together, decrypted into the full list of Federal Witness Protection participants. The full list. Think about that. Yes, it could fit on two rings easily enough with micro engraving and compression coding. But... every time someone new has to enter the program, you have to have both rings brought in and re-engraved. Seems to be a rather clunky way to handle security, unless you need a Macguffin to drive a plot.

Mon
21
Oct

How Can a Serial Killer Be in Two Places at One Time? We Review Night Hunter on Blu-ray

Night Hunter

HENRY CAVILL (MAN OF STEEL) is Marshall, a law officer gone terminally cynical from the job, which makes relating with his daughter particularly difficult. Concerned about protecting his daughter from anything and anyone, he finds himself suddenly embroiled in a case of a serial killer who preys on young girls. He catches a break on the case when a former judge turned vigilante, Cooper (BEN KINGSLEY) loses his literal jailbait partner, Lara (ELIANA JONES), to the killer, thinking him merely another predator for them to take off the board. Fortunately for Lara, she wears a tracking device, leading both Cooper and Marshall to her and Simon (BRENDAN FLETCHER), a mentally handicapped man holding Lara and several other girls hostage and putting them through torture.

But while Simon is in custody and being profiled, his captors are targeted for murder and extorted into effecting his escape. Begging the question: Do they have the right man, or does he have an accomplice.

Sat
19
Oct

Cinderella Story Franchise Gets Christmas Wish Installment

A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish

A CINDERELLA STORY has blossomed into a successful storytelling franchise, with so sign of the stroke of midnight anywhere in sight. A CINDERELLA STORY: CHRISTMAS WISH continues the streak, setting the familiar Cinderella trope against a holiday backdrop.

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