Tuesday, April 23, 2019

New in Theaters April 23, 2019 "Twice the Dream"

Twice the Dream
Starring: Monica Moore Smith and Savannah Ostler
Rated PG   

Sisters, Amber and Sam Bradshaw, are offered an opportunity to chase their dreams of becoming musicians. As a tragedy shakes their family, they discover that the powerful bond and love they have can overcome anything.

As you can imagine, I watch a lot of large-budget Hollywood movies as well as a lot of low-budget indie and faith-based films.

And, although “Twice the Dream” was produced on a very small budget, it plays like a much larger, Hollywood film.

“Twice the Dream” offers up exceptional production values and a heartfelt story, written by the film's star and director, Savannah Ostler.

What is most impressive about this small film is it never wavers from its core message of loyalty, sisterhood, family and love.

“Twice the Dream” is not a perfect film, there are problems in pacing, in places it is too sugary and some of the acting is a bit stiff and detached. But, the film's stars, Monica Moore Smith and Savannah Ostler, do their best to carry the film over those hurdles, and by the final reel the film makes good on its promise to entertain by incorporating the elements of faith, love and family.

If you're looking for an inspirational film with a lot of heart, I recommend “Twice the Dream,” a small, independent movie that will fill the bill.

It gets a B and is rated PG.

Monday, April 15, 2019

New on Blu-ray & DVD April 16, 2019 "Replicas," "The Kid Who Would Be King" and "Glass"

Starring: Bruce Willis, James McAvoy and Samuel L. Jackson
Rated PG-13   

“Glass” is a unique undertaking by suspense director M. Night Shyamalan, who takes two of his films and creates a sequel to them by combining the characters into one movie.

First, James McAvoy deserves solid recognition for his amazing performance as a man with several distinct personalities, which McAvoy glides in and out of as easily as walking through an open door.

Samuel L. Jackson offers up a menacing, yet subtle on screen presence accented by an evil detachment to everyone around him. His performance is exactly what is meant by “less is more.”

Finally, even Bruce Willis has found his character's core and presents us with a reluctant 'everyman' on the edge of self discovery.

With that being said, the problem with "Glass" is in its script, which is lackluster and unevenly paced, due to trying to meld 2 films together. The movie did not play all that well on the big screen, but as a Blu-ray release, it does a much better job.
“Glass” is a flawed but watchable film.

It gets a B and is rated PG-13.

Starring: Keanu Reeves and Alice Eve
Rated: PG-13   

After losing his family in a tragic accident, a synthetic biologist will stop at nothing to bring them back, even if it means pitting himself against a government-controlled laboratory, a police task force and the physical laws of science.

"Replicas" is a throwback to the golden age of sci-fi films that were campy, overacted and filled with lots of special effects.

Keanu Reeves, although not particularly great with lots of dialogue, does his hand-wringing best to play a scientist on the edge of madness, as he is both a sympathetic and maniacal character.

In the end, yes there are lots of things wrong with "Replicas," but it is a fun movie to watch because of those wrongs.

For that it gets a C and is rated PG-13.

The Kid Who Would Be King
Starring: Louis Ashbourne Serkis and Patrick Stewart
Rated PG    
In this retelling of the Arthurian legend, a young boy stumbles on the sword in the stone and removes it.

"The Kid Who Would Be King" knows its core audience is is between 12 and 14, and plays directly to that age group with cheesy jokes, good CGI and special effects and an ending with a good moral.

At its heart, "The Kid Who Would Be King" is an underdog story. And the film does a great job in reminding us that there is something special and amazing about everyone.

"The Kid Who Would Be King" gets a B and is rated PG.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

New in Theaters April 12, 2019 "Missing Link" and "Hellboy 2019"

Hellboy 2019
Starring: David Harbour and Milla Jovovich
Rated R   

In this reboot of the film series that began in 2004 and based on the popular graphic novel series, a demon from hell is caught between this world and world of the supernatural as he battles an ancient sorceress to protect the world.

“Hellboy 2019” tries to rekindle a character and a franchise, but the effort falls short of its goal by giving us a character with none of the characteristics that made the original worth seeing.

The version of “Hellboy” is lacking any of the demonic sarcasm, wit and charm fans expect. “Hellboy 2019” is just a bland copy of the original played against an overindulgent backdrop of CGI.

David Harbour, who is a terrific actor, has little to do but mumble out lines of dialogue so unintelligible you really need most of what he says subtitled. Playing against Harbour's listless “Hellboy” is actress Milla Jovovich as “The Blood Queen.” A one-note performance lacking... well that one-note.

All in all “Hellboy” is laughably bad. It gets a D and is rated R.

Missing Link
Starring the Voices of: Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana and Zach Galifianakis
Rated PG   
In the film an adventurer seeks to find the creature known as Sasquatch. But when he discovers the creature, he's not exactly what's expected.

“Missing Link” is a wonderfully told story with delightful stop-motion animation adding to the viewer's experience.

The film is a moral tale of how we see the world and how the world sees us. And what we can do to change ourselves and the world in positive ways.

Overall the film does a terrific job in keeping kids and adults entertained with both its humor and its artwork.

“Missing Link” doesn't miss at all.

It gets an A and is rated PG.

Monday, April 8, 2019

New on Blu-Ray and DVD April 9, 2019 "Holmes & Watson," "On the Basis of Sex" and "Welcome to Marwen"

On the Basis of Sex
Starring: Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer
Rated PG-13   

The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her struggles for equal rights, and what she had to overcome in order to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

“On the Basis of Sex” is an uneven film depicting Ruth Bader Ginsberg's early career and her struggle to climb the ladder in a field dominated by men.

Although well acted, the film takes on a dry and sterile approach to Ginsberg's continuing fight against sexual discrimination in corporate America.

“On the Basis of Sex” is presented more like a scholastic film than a big screen movie.

If you're interested in Ruth Bader Ginsberg, I suggest the documentary done earlier this year called “RBG,” it's much more riveting.

“On the Basis of Sex” gets a C and is rated PG-13.

Holmes and Watson
Starring: Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly
Rated PG-13   

In what could have been a humorous take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic mysteries featuring Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, "Holmes & Watson" completely missed the mark.

I'll get this over with quickly.

This could possibly be the worst film of the year, a title previously held by “The Happytime Murders.”

There is nothing in this film that I can remotely call “entertainment” as every joke, every gag and every comic set-up reeked of desperation.

Please miss this movie, “Holmes and Watson” gets an F and is rated PG-13.

Welcome to Marwen
Starring: Steve Carell and Leslie Mann
Rated PG-13   
A victim of a brutal attack finds a unique and beautiful therapeutic outlet to help him through his recovery process.

Based on the 2010 documentary, “Marwencol,” “Welcome to Marwen” is not an easy film to warm up to.

The story is told with purposeful detachment as Steve Carrell's character begins his healing process by creating a backyard model of a World War II village called “Marwen,” in which he slowly imagines himself a part of.

But “Welcome to Marwen” never satisfies the audience, as director Robert Zemeckis keeps everything at arm's length and instead of creating an inviting story, the audience is left with only the film's CGI to keep entertained.

Welcome to Marwen” ends up with very little for viewers to take with them.

It gets a C and is rated PG-13.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

New in Theaters April 5, 2019 "Pet Sematary," "The Best of Enemies" and "SHAZAM!"

The Best of Enemies
Starring: Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell
Rated PG-13   

“The Best of Enemies” is set in 1971 and focuses on a 2 week summit held in Durham, North Carolina that brings together members of 2 coalitions.

A Civil Rights group spearheaded by Ann Atwater, played by Taraji P. Henson and the local chapter of the Klu Klux Klan, headed by C.P. Ellis, played by Sam Rockwell, to discuss the subject of school integration.

And despite earnest performances by the principal cast, the film is too saccharine and too convenient.

“The Best of Enemies” is another in a series of films where 2 people from completely different backgrounds, ethnicities and social statuses meet and somehow, over time, find common ground and become friends.

“The Best of Enemies” is more of a fairytale than a story of overcoming racism and social injustice. And the film is more concerned with tying everything up in a nice, neat package.

It gets a C and is rated PG-13

Pet Sematary
Starring: Jason Clark, Amy Seimetz and John Lithgow
Rated R  

A doctor and his family relocate from Boston to rural Maine and soon discovers a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.

Based, of course, on Stephen King's novel and a remake of the 1989 film, “Pet Sematary” is a truly satisfying horror film. The film uses every chance it gets to jump out at you and yell “boo.”

Underscoring Jason Clarke and Amy Seimetz wonderfully dark performances is an incredibly eerie soundtrack, by veteran composer Christopher Young.

The mix of music, camera and acting make “Pet Sematary” a white-knuckle ride and scarily fun.

It gets a B and is rated R.

Starring: Zahary Levi and Asher Angel
Rated PG-13   

14 year-old Billy Batson (Asher Angel) has been in foster homes most of his life. One day, out of the blue, he's gifted the ability to turn into an adult superhero (Zachary Levi), which he controls by saying the word “SHAZAM.”

“SHAZAM!” is a wonderfully written and acted fantasy film.

The film is intentionally schmaltzy and deliberately childish as Billy, accompanied by his new foster brother Freddy begin to learn how to control his new-found powers. But, like all superheroes, SHAZAM must find his real strength to fight a new super villain gunning for him.

“SHAZAM” works because of Zachary Levi's wide-eyed innocence and his perpetual wonder, which endears him to the audience. Levi is supported by a terrific cast, who also know how to be silly enough, maniacal enough and even endearing enough to add to the film's flow.

The movie is a statement on friendship, family, trust and virtually all the values a superhero embodies. And the audience is witness to Billy / SHAZAM learning about these values as he grows into his role.

SHAZAM” may not be the best of the DC Comic films, but it will be one of your favorites.

It gets an A and is rated PG-13.

Monday, April 1, 2019

New on Blu-ray & DVD April 2, 2019 "Bumblebee" and "Vice"

Starring: Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena
Rated PG-13   

“Bumblebee” is an origin story about why the Transformers came to Earth. The film takes place in 1987 as a young woman discovers a living machine disguised as VW Beetle.

“Bumblebee” is a better-than-expected addition to the “Transformer's” franchise and balances comedy and action in a fast-moving and well written script.

Surprisingly, the film doesn't rely solely on its robot battles, it also has heart and offers up some unexpected sentimentality which gives the film a much needed change of pace from its predecessors.

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

Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Steve Carell
Rated R  

The story of Dick Cheney, an unassuming bureaucratic Washington insider, who quietly wielded immense power as Vice President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today.

Let me start by pointing out “Vice” offers some historical facts but has little to do with actual history, and once you understand that, the movie is wonderfully entertaining film.

In this 'mockumentary,” Christian Bale played Dick Cheney as a humorless man who wanted to be the power behind the throne and hated being in any kind of spotlight. Bale is so good in this role he was nominated as best actor at the Academy Awards.

But has the opportunities for gaining power grew, he took advantage of those opportunities increasing his footprint and reach.

“Vice” is a dark comedy about the abuses of power and offers a tongue-in-cheek approach rather than a pointed finger.

“Vice” is well worth seeing. It gets a B and is rated R.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

New in Theaters March 29, 2019 "Dumbo"

Starring: Danny DeVito, Colin Farrell and Michael Keaton
Rated G

A baby elephant who can fly propels the little circus he's part of into a new venture. But this new venture has a very dark side.

“Dumbo” is Disney's live-action reimagining of its classic 1941 animated feature.

This reboot concentrates more on special effects than story. As beautifully executed as the movie's CGI is, the film lacks deepness in its core characters. Little is done with the principal cast, other than hitting their marks and saying a few lines.

The film meanders through the story hitting a high note once in a while, but always keeping the audience at arm's length. The viewer is left with mostly forced emotional moments that the audiences can feel are artificial and gratuitous.

“Dumbo,” is like a candy bar, full of sweetness and buried in a great wrapper, but once sampled is nothing but empty calories.

Because it is so sweet and offered great special effects which countered its lackluster and maudlin script, “Dumbo” gets a C and is rated G.