Monday, December 3, 2018

New on Blu-ray & DVD December 4, 2018 "Mission Impossible: Fallout" and "The Happytime Murders"

The Happytime Murders
Starring: Melissa McCarthy
Rated R  

In a world where humans and puppets co-exist, the puppet cast of an '80s children's TV show begins to get murdered one by one. A former cop, who has since become a private eye, teams up with his old partner to solve the case.

“The Happytime Murders” is produced by Brian Henson, son of the late Jim Henson, and with that pedigree the movie should have been so much more. What could have been a sharp, witty and irreverent satire quickly degenerated into a bunch of missed opportunities. The film just runs out of ideas after the first 30 minutes and begins to repeat itself over and over.

"Happytime's" human star, Melissa McCarthy, looked lost in every scene. I think McCarthy is suffering from what Will Farrell went through and has been pigeonholed into playing the same caustic character over and over. Check her performance in this new film with her past performances in “The Heat,” “Tammy,” “Identity Theft” and even “Bridesmaids,” and you'll see what I mean.

All in all “The Happytime Murders” is a film offering little reward in exchange for your time.

Believe me you won't get this hour and 31 minutes back.

It gets a D and is rated R.

Mission Impossible: Fallout
Starring: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill and Simon Pegg
Rated PG-13   

In the 6th installment of the “Mission Impossible” series, Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar faces, race against time after a mission gone wrong.

“Mission Impossible: Fallout” is one of the most thrilling cinematic experiences you'll have this summer. The film offers up an intense espionage story mixed with heart-pounding non-stop action and breathtaking stunt work from beginning to end.

It's no secret that Tom Cruise, who produces the film, does a majority of his own stunt work in the movie. That fact, I believe, brings the audience closer into the action of the film, escalating the thrill factor.

But supporting those thrills and spills is a terrifically well-written script and wonderful performances by Henry Cavill, Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames.

“Mission Impossible: Fallout” is a rip-roaring, summer blockbuster and deserves an A.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

New in Theaters November 21, 2018 "Ralph Breaks the Internet," "Robin Hood" and "Creed II"

Robin Hood
Starring Taron Egerton and Jamie Fox
Rated PG-13 

In this retelling of the famous English legend, Robin of Loxley goes from Old English playboy to a battle-hardened sniper during the Crusades. Upon seeing the grimness of war, he is changed.

There is a difference in retelling and reinventing. This “Robin Hood” reinvents the legend but without justifying the changes to the story. Most likely a group of producers sat around a table and started by saying “wouldn't it be cool...”

Wouldn't it be cool if Robin Hood was a rich spoiled brat who got drafted to fight in the Crusades?

Wouldn't it be cool if there was a rifle that could shoot 30 rounds of arrows a second?

Wouldn't it be cool if Robin teamed up with another war-weary soldier, who was once his enemy?
Wouldn't it be cool if Maid Marian was an outspoken voice against social injustice?

Someone needed to say “No. It wouldn't be.”

What “Robin Hood” is a miserable mixture of strung together scenes looking for social relevance, scenes of battle with bows and arrows are shot as if we're watching a Gulf War movie, scenes with the evil Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Mendelsohn) are melodramatic and over acted. And scenes with Marian insulting the Sheriff to his face and going unpunished. Especially when its established he can end someone's life with a finger snap.

Because of those terrible decisions, “Robin Hood” is a ridiculous film so poorly written it is unintentionally funny.

Pass it by. It gets a D and is rated PG-13.

Creed II
Starring: Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone
Rated PG-13 

Adonis Creed, trained by Rocky Balboa, is now the heavyweight champion of the world and is challenged by Viktor Drago, the son of the boxer who killed is father in 1985.

“Creed II” is a better-than-expected sequel, but has its roots in the film “Rocky IV.” Although, the film has some great action scenes, it is a bit too manipulative by stacking so much emotional weight on its lead character.

However, it is exactly what audiences will expect and follows through on its promise to entertain.

It gets a B and is rated PG-13.

Wreck-It-Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet
Starring the voices of: John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman
Rated PG 

When Venelope's game is broken Ralph and Venelope journey into the internet to find a replacement part.

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” is an enjoyable romp but the film lacks the fun and whimsy of the first one. The movie is dialogue heavy with meaningful messages and really no action. The animation is bright and cheery, but the film feels forced and over written.

The film's saving grace is when Venelope meets the Disney princesses. I added 1 grade for that.

“Ralph Breaks the Internet” will please kids and their parents, but it's only an average movie. It gets a C and is rated PG.

Monday, November 19, 2018

New on Blu-ray and DVD November 20, 2018 "Kin" and "Crazy Rich Asians"

Starring: Miles Truitt, James France and Jack Reynor
Rated PG-13   

In “Kin” a young boy discovers an alien weapon of great power and is being hunted by those who lost it.

I was pleasantly surprised that “Kin” wasn't one of those 'kid saves the universe' films, which the promotional ads seem to lead you to believe.

The film offers some exciting action and solid acting, especially James Franco's relentless bad guy. And, although the film has its problems with pacing and flushing out some characters, the film ends up being a 'guys on the run' film with some thrills and spills.

“Kin” gets a B and is rated PG-13.

Crazy Rich Asians
Starring: Constance Wu and Henry Golding
Rated PG-13

Based on the best selling book, a woman travels from New York City to Singapore to meet her boyfriend's family.

“Crazy Rich Asians” is a better-than-expected rom-com that has its basic roots in those 1940's screwball comedies, but offering a little deeper moral about simply being yourself.

The film delivers on laughs and at the right moments some good sentiment without forgetting who its audience is.

“Crazy Rich Asians” is a well paced, funny comedy and deserves a B. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

New in Theaters November 16, 2018 "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" and "Instant Family"

Instant Family
Starring: Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne
Rated PG-13 

Based on the true story of writer / director Sean Anders, a couple adopt 3 children and must navigate the highs and lows of parenthood.

“Instant Family” on the outset seems like another run-of-the-mill saccharine family comedy, but you'll be pleasantly surprised if you give this film a chance.

I found the film to be both touching, funny and well paced with good performances by Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne as the couple in the center of the parenthood storm.

Although there are some problems with the script, including some long adoption sermons told by the adoption agent played by Olivia Spencer, the film stays its course and ends up being worth the ticket price in.

“Instant Family” gets a B and is rated PG-13.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp and Jude Law
Rated PG-13 

In the sequel to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the new story takes a darker turn as the maleficent Grindelwald, played by Johnny Depp begins his plot to take over both the Wizarding World and the muggle world.

“The Crimes of Grindelwald” is an ridiculously complicated film with too many sub-plots and unnecessary characters to really keep track of.

Most of the sub-plots in the movie really don't amount to much and are tacked in to give the film some diversion. There's a storyline about finding Credence, a human host for an uncontrollable magic force called an 'Obscurus.' There's a plot about Jacob and Queenie's relationship. And storylines about other incidental characters including Leta and Newt's brother Theseus.

The main plot-line of the movie is the private war between the evil Grindelwald and a younger Dumbledore, played by Jude Law. This war has almost nothing to do with Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne and his gang from the first film.

In fact, I can not really see a reason for Redmayne to be in this film at all except to provide a bridge from the first film to the second.

The film does offer some solid special effects, but those effects are hindered by chophouse editing and uneven pacing.

In the end, “Fantastic Beasts 2” is an overindulged excessive film that makes its audience work to hard for a lackluster resolution.

The film gets a C and is rated PG-13.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

New in Theaters November 9, 2018 "The Girl in the Spider's Web" and "Dr. Seuss' The Grinch"

The Girl in the Spider's Web
Starring: Claire Foy and Sylvia Hoeks
Rated R   

Young computer hacker Lisbeth Salander and journalist Mikael Blomkvist find themselves caught in a web of spies, cybercriminals and corrupt government officials.

The sequel to “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl in the Spider's Web” promised a deep and involved crime thriller with a good cast.

But, unfortunately, the sequel could not live up to the first film due to an overly predictable story and a lackluster directing style from Fede Alvarez. The film paces itself as if as if it were ready to sleep.

The script is full of twists and turns that ultimately make the audience feel as if they've missed something because of an inconceivable and ridiculous plot.

The film would have fared better if the producers had simplified everything and opted for characters that were believable and empathetic instead of generic and bland.

In the end, “The Girl in the Spider's Web” just won't hold your interest.

It gets a D and is rated R.

Dr. Seuss' The Grinch
Starring the voices of: Benedict Cumberbatch and Pharrell Williams
Rated PG   

Another version of the Dr. Seuss story of the Grinch, who hates Christmas and does everything in his power to stop it from coming to Whoville.

“The Grinch” is an updated animated telling of the story that probably should have been flushed out a little more.

I understand the need to update stories and retell them, but the producers decided to completely rewrite the story and in that process it lost the magic it's predecessors maintained.

The Grinch is still a jerk, but he's not quite the bad guy he needs to be to make the transition at the end of the story. Cindi Lou Who is played more as a street-wise child lacking the purity and innocence that was needed as a catalyst for the Grinch's change.

Without those two ingredients, the story simply loses its wonder and falls flat.

I think little kids will like the animation, but I do not think this version of the Dr. Seuss classic will become a Christmas tradition.

It gets a C and is rated PG.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

New in Theaters November 2, 2018 "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "The Nutcracker and the Four Realms"

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
Starring: Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly and Mackenzie Foy
Rated PG   

Following the footsteps of her mother, a young woman is transported to a magical land consisting of four realms.

“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” isn't the jaw-dropping Disney holiday film you might think it is.
The movie offers up a nice return to a land, like Oz, where magic rules, terrifying creatures roam and everyone is waiting to be rescued from an evil female warrior.

The problem with the film is it concentrates far too intensely on the letter of its script and had no room for simple whimsy.

This is a holiday movie and it plays out like a grumpy elf reading “The Night Before Christmas.” All the words are there but the presentation is sterile and detached.

I think the film will resonate here and there with small kids, but this needed to be a Christmas experience for everyone, but the audience just has to work too hard to get through it.

“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is a beautiful paining, but after 10 minutes of looking at it, it becomes overly confusing, hard to understand and lacks heart.

It gets a C and is rated PG.

Bohemian Rhapsody
Starring: Rami Malek and Lucy Boynton
Rated PG-13   

The film spotlights the events that took place in singer Freddie Mercury's life which led him and his fellow band members to create “QUEEN.”

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is certainly one of the best pictures of the year. The film takes on the journey that Freddie Mercury traveled (although beefed up a bit with writing) as he becomes one of the most influential voices in music.

Rami Malek is absolutely on point as the iconic singer, whose troubled past and identity issues combine to force him into the spotlight and center stage.

The scenes of QUEEN performing are so well staged you'd believe you were in the 70's and 80's watching their rise. Each new venue steps up the momentum until the film explodes at the 1985 Live Aid concert, at which QUEEN made their comeback performance.

Finally, “Bohemian Rhapsody” has, arguably, the best soundtrack so far this year.

Go see it. It will rock you. It's gets an A and is rated PG-13.

Monday, October 29, 2018

New on Blu-ray and DVD for Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Spy Who Dumped Me
Starring: Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon
Rated R

In this comedy, two best friends are off on a life and death adventure as one of them discovers her ex boyfriend was a spy.

The Spy Who Dumped Me” is a funnier-than-expected comedy romp. The film's basic plot follows 2 women trying follow some rather simple instructions but as they discover, the spy game is not an easy one and they are on the run never knowing who the good guys and bad guys are.

The plot of the film is surprisingly similar to Arthur Hiller's 1987 comedy “Outrageous Fortune,” starring Bette Midler and Shelly Long.

In any case Kate McKinnon steals the show with her slightly over-the-top performance as the aggressively protective Morgan. Although, Mila Kunis is sporadically funny throughout the film, she is out gunned by McKinnon's quirky portrayal.

The Spy Who Dumped Me” is simply a fun diversion flick willing to do anything to get a laugh.

It gets a C and is rated R.

Slender Man
Starring: Joey King and Julia Telles
Rated PG-13   

In a small town in Massachusetts, a group of friends, fascinated by the internet lore of the 'Slender Man,' attempt to prove that he doesn't actually exist - until one of them mysteriously goes missing. 

"Slender Man" is a basically scary film relying mostly on visual effects to carry the script.

That being said, the film does fall into the problem being a bit too predictable in places and not flushing out it's characters.

“Slender Man” gets a C and is rated PG-13.