Monday, January 15, 2018

New on Blu-ray & DVD for January 16, 2018 "The Snowman," "Happy Death Day" and "Blade Runner 2049"

The Snowman
Starring: Michael Fassbender
Rated R

When an elite crime squad's lead detective investigates the disappearance of a victim on the first snow of winter, he fears an elusive serial killer may be active again.

With the help of a brilliant recruit, the cop must connect decades-old cold cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall.

“The Snowman” keeps the audience on the edge of their seats throughout most of the film. The film is purposely paced slow, but as the story twists it begins to come to a boil.

“The Snowman” has a few problems with timing and some character development and the film is extremely graphic with blood and gore.

It gets a B and is rated R.

Happy Death Day
Starring: Jessica Rothe
Rated PG-13 

A teenage girl, trying to enjoy her birthday, soon realizes that this is her final one. That is, if she can figure out who her killer is. 

She must relive that day, over and over again, dying in a different way each time.

Can she solve her own murder?

The film is at its best when the lead character “Tree,” played by Jessica Rothe, is uncaring and unsympathetic to her fellow students. But when the story turns sentimental, the film loses it's edge.

Earlier this year the film “Before I Fall” used this plot devise but was pretty much humorless in its execution.

“Happy Death Day” finds a balance between thrills and humor, but doesn't maintain its equilibrium for very long.

“Happy Death Day” is a mostly a watchable film but it will not make you forget “Groundhog's Day” nor will it stick in your mind longer than the walk to the parking lot.

It gets a C and is rated PG-13.

Blade Runner 2049
Starring: Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford
Rated R 

In the sequel to the cult classic, thirty years have passed, and a new blade runner unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what's left of society into chaos. 

The discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard, a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

“Blade Runner 2049” is a stunningly shot, cinematic feast. The style of the photography remind the viewer of the original's style and symmetry.

The film, like its predecessor, is slow-paced and deliberate. 
But “Blade Runner 2049” falls short as the story simply does not know what to do with its characters. The script meanders and sputters never really coming to the boil fans of the original are expecting.

Instead, the film runs out of gas and coasts to a stop, leaving the audience with the feeling something's left undone.

In the end “Blade Runner 2049” is a wonderful example of cinematic eye-candy with little substance backing it up.

It gets a C and is rated R. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

New on Blu-ray and DVD for January 9, 2018 "It" and "The Foreigner"

Starring: Bill Skarsgard and Finn Wolfhard
Rated R
In the film, based on the Steven King novel, seven kids are united by their terrifying and strange encounters with an evil clown and the history of brutal murders plaguing their small town.

I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this new cinematic version of Steven King's “It” with real anticipation. I am a fan of King's writing and I do know that King does not translate well to the big screen. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say the best adaptation of a King novel to film is “The Shawshank Redemption.”

That being said, the latest adaptation of Steven King's “It” is not a scary film as much at it just creepy. The main antagonist, 'Pennywise the Clown,' isn't foreboding enough and although the film offers up some moments that will make you jump, it isn't enough.

Add that to the identity crisis “It” suffers from, as the film seems to not know if its a scary film, a comedy, a coming-of-age story or a kid's adventure movie, and you have a bit of a diluted mess.

“It” just doesn't have 'IT.'

It gets a C and is rated R.

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The Foreigner
Starring: Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan
Rated R 

A humble businessman with a buried past seeks justice when his daughter is killed in an act of terrorism. A cat-and-mouse conflict ensues with a government official, whose past may hold clues to the killers' identities.

“The Foreigner” is a well-paced action thriller with Jackie Chan using his martial art skills in a dramatic way than he has in the past. Most of Chan's fighting in past films were for comedic effect, in “The Foreigner,” Chan manages to meet the challenge of mixing martial arts with dramatic effect.

Pierce Brosnan turns in an intensely focused performance as a government official who is trying to keep the status-quo between governments.

“The Foreigner” is well worth your time to see. 

It gets a B and is rated R.

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Monday, January 1, 2018

New on Blu-ray and DVD for January 2, 2018 "American Made" and "Battle of the Sexes"

Battle of the Sexes
Starring: Emma Stone and Steve Carell
Rated PG-13

In the wake of the sexual revolution and the rise of the women's movement, the 1973 tennis match between women's world champion Billie Jean King and ex-men's-champ and media hustler Bobby Riggs was billed as the “Battle of the Sexes” and was one of the most watched televised sports events of all time, reaching 90 million viewers around the world. 

“Battle of the Sexes” is a wonderful film. Emma Stone offers up a truly deep and heartfelt performance as Bille Jean King, who is discovering herself for the first time in her life.

Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs paints a very real portrait of a man who was once at the top of his game and now has settled on the other side of fame. Riggs, ever the opportunist, sees King as a way to step back into the spotlight.

“Battle of the Sexes” is well worth your time to see. I found it a rewarding film on may levels, placing it on my top 10 films of 2017.

It gets and A and is rated PG-13  

American Made
Starring: Tom Cruise
Rated R 

In the film, a gifted pilot is offered an opportunity to work for the CIA flying various missions for them.

Tom Cruise has a run of bad to mediocre films over the past few years. “The Mummy,” “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” and “Oblivion,” to name a few.

“American Made” allows Cruise to finally give audiences what they've been wanting to see. Tom Cruise in a fun, stylish and fast-paced action film.

“American Made” gets a solid B and is rated R 

Thursday, December 28, 2017

What I'm looking forward to in 2018 Moviewise

It looks like 2018 will be another banner year for movies, especially movie sequels.

2018 will mark the 6th go around for Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible 6” on July 27.

Sequels for Jurassic World, Spider-Man, Ant-Man, Pacific Rim, Predator and Maze Runner all will be opening during the year, as well as a part two's for Fantastic Beasts, Gnomes and The Incredibles are all on the slate. 


But there are some I truly am looking forward to … beginning with “Avengers: Infinity War.” The Avengers continue to protect the world against its enemies in this new film that raises the bar for the Marvel Universe. It opens on May 4th.   

Also opening in May is “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” telling the tale of a young Han Solo and Chewbacca before they joined the rebellion. The film is directed by Ron Howard and has quite a pedigree as it was penned by Lawrence Kasdan.

June 1st marks the opening day for “Deadpool 2.” I loved the irreverence of the first film and I am hoping that 20th Century Fox can give us a film as good as the first.  

For Christmas, 2018, Disney is releasing “Mary Poppins Returns” in which a now-grown up Jane and Michael Banks, along with Michael's three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Emily Blunt plays the practically perfect nanny and Dick Van Dyke has a cameo in the film. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Opening in Theaters Friday December 22, 2017 "Father Figures," "Downsizing" and "Pitch Perfect 3"

Father Figures
Starring: Owen Wilson and Ed Helms
Rated R 
Upon learning that their mother has been lying to them for years about their allegedly deceased father, two fraternal twin brothers hit the road in order to find him.

“Father Figures” is a flat one-joke comedy.

The fact is the 1988 film “Twins,” starring Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger, did this much better and funnier 30 years ago.

“Father Figures” is one of those films you'd can wait for when its released on DVD or Netflix in a few months.
It gets a D and is rated R.

Starring: Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig
Rated R

In the story, the world is running out of resources and the solution is to shrink mankind to a fraction of the size so the Earth can sustain human life.
If you're going to the theater to see a comedy, stop.

Although there are some comic elements in the film, “Downsizing” is just a political satire told in a very dry way.

“Downsizing” ends up being a disjointed and self indulgent agenda film, without ever being clear as to what that agenda actually is.
It gets a D and is rated R.

Pitch Perfect 3
Starring: Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson
Rated PG-13

After winning their last championship, the 'Bellas' have drifted apart. The ladies then get the chance to reunite for an overseas USO tour.

But will they harmonize one last time?

The 3
rd chapter of the “Pitch Perfect” series is exactly what you'd expect it to be, an irreverently engaging comedy.

If you are a fan of the previous films, the third and (they say) the final chapter will not disappoint you.

“Pitch Perfect 3” gets a B and is rated PG-13

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

New in Theaters for December 20, 2017 "The Greatest Showman" and "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle"

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black and Kevin Hart
Rated PG-13 

Four teenagers discover an old video game console and are literally drawn into the game's jungle setting becoming the adult avatars they chose.

“Jumanji” is the sequel to the 1995 Robin Williams action adventure move, and although the original film was darker and felt more dangerous, this revisit takes the safer road.

The plot of the film is for our four heroes to return a stolen jewel to its rightful place and lift the curse that has thrown the land of Jumanji into ruin.

The film never strays off the path of that simple plot, and although the group begins to learn and trust each other, the film just has no spark to really engage the audience.

Most of the film's entertainment comes from a wonderfully comic performance by Jack Black, whose character is a teenage girl. Black never wastes a frame of film in this performance. Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Dwayne Johnson all but in good performances, but never rise above the kind of roles we are used to seeing them play.

All in all “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” ends up an average comedy, with a stand out performance by Jack Black.

It gets a C and is rated PG-13

The Greatest Showman
Starring: Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams
Rated PG 

Inspired by the story of P.T. Barnum, “The Greatest Showman” is an original musical celebrating the birth of show business and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.

“The Greatest Showman” is simply one of the best films this year. The balance of this inspiring story with its acting, choreography and the exuberance of the music it is set to, makes this film as perfect as it can get.

The Greatest Showman” needs to be seen. It gets an A and it is rated PG.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

New in Theaters for December 15, 2017 "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," "The Shape of Water" and "Ferdinand"

Starring the vocal talents of: John Cena and Kate McKinnon
Rated PG 

After Ferdinand, a bull with a big heart, is mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home. Determined to return to his family, he rallies a misfit team on the ultimate adventure.

The moral of “Ferdinand” is all about staying true to who you are inside.

Unfortunately, the film's execution and underlying agenda about animal rights sours the audience's enjoyment. What could have been a delightfully understated breezy film, becomes it's own worst enemy.

Added to the mix are several annoying characters, not least of which is Ferdinand's sidekick goat, “Lupe,” played by Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon.

In the end, the film is like pleasant hors d'oeuvre, it tastes ok, but you cannot make a meal out of it.

Ferdinand” gets a C and is rated PG.

The Shape of Water
Starring: Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins
Rated R 
In the hidden high-security government laboratory where she works, lonely cleaning woman trapped in a life of isolation discovers a secret classified experiment.

“The Shape of Water” is a beautifully acted, although brutal and graphic, fairy tale about finding love and connection despite almost insurmountable differences.

Inspiringly written and gorgeously filmed, “The Shape of Water” is well worth the time to see.

It gets a B and is rated R.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher
Rated PG-13 
Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe unlocking the mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past.

Well it finally happened. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is a totally 'Disneyfied' film which many fans, including this one, are really upset about.

The film simply is a mess from beginning to end with nothing new added to move the saga forward.

And the promises that were made in the “Force Awakens” are poorly kept, as characters who were promoted to be pivotal become unimportant plot devices, important histories are swept under rugs and characters added as 'product placement' just to sell merchandise.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” misses every mark. The film can not shake off its listlessness and lack of continuity to the other films, making it the worst film in the Star Wars saga.

In the end, this is not the “Star Wars” you are looking for. Move along, move along.

It gets a D and is rated PG-13.