Thursday, August 9, 2018

New in theaters Friday August 10, 2018 "The Meg," "Slender Man" and "Dog Day"

Dog Days
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens and Eva Longoria
Rated PG   

Dog Days” follows a group of interconnected people in Los Angeles who are brought together by their lovable canine counterparts.

A slightly better-than-expected comedy focusing on intertwined relationships and how they relate to their dogs.

The film is exactly what you'd expect it to be. Overly sweet, awkwardly romantic and predictable, but a good diversion film for date night.

Dog Days” gets a C and is rated PG.

Slender Man
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.

The Meg
Starring: Jason Statham and Rainn Wilson
Rated PG-13   

After escaping an attack by what he claims was a 70-foot shark, Jonas Taylor must confront his fears to save those trapped in a sunken submersible.

If you're looking for this generation's “Jaws,” keep looking.

“The Meg” is a monster movie. It's a summer thriller and offers a lot fun, thrilling moments and 'Gee-Wiz' opticals complimented with Jason Statham's tongue-in-cheek performance as the film's hero.

Overall I liked the film for what it is, a rip-roaring cinematic ride.

The Meg” gets a B and is rated PG-13.

Monday, August 6, 2018

New on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy for August 7, 2018 "Life of the Party" and "Avengers: Infinity War"

Life of the Party
Starring: Melissa McCarthy and Matt Walsh
Rated R   

After her husband abruptly asks for a divorce, a middle-aged mother returns to college in order to complete her degree.

In this rehash of the 1986 film “Back to School” starring Rodney Dangerfield, Melissa McCarthy is the middle aged parent who returns to college to finish her degree and wreaks havoc on the college's unsuspecting students and faculty.

The biggest difference is that “Back to School” was funny. “Life of the Party” is not.

The film has the feeling that its frantically trying to make the audience laugh, when it should be making the audience care. Which after the first 30 minutes no one does.

“Life of the Party” sinks into the abyss of poorly executed low-brow gags and one-liners best suited for summer replacement sitcoms.

It gets an F and is rated R.

The Avengers: Infinity War
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine and Josh Brolin
Rated PG-13   

As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows named Thanos, who's goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality.

Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment, as the fate of Earth and even the universe are in jeopardy.

Avengers: Infinity War” is exactly what has been hyped for the last year. The Marvel movie to beat all other Marvel movies.

An incredible and perfect mixture of story, art, graphics and acting make “Infinity War,” the best Marvel movie to date.

The film rivets you to your seat with terrific special effects and rewards you at almost every turn by taking chances, like a master juggler, keeping the film's humor, drama and action in the air at once.

It gets an A and is rated PG-13.

It's available for download on digital formats and will be available next week on Blu-ray and DVD.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

New in Theaters August 3, 2018 "The Darkest Minds" "The Spy Who Dumped Me" and "Christopher Robin"

Darkest Minds
Starring: Amandla Sternberg, Bradley Whitford and Mandy Moore
Rated PG-13   

In a dystopian world teens with special powers are hunted by the government and imprisoned.

The biggest problem with “The Darkest Minds” is that we've all seen this before. From “Hunger Games,” to “Divergent” and “Maze Runner” and “The 5th Wave,” there's nothing new in this film to really set it apart.

Because “The Darkest Minds” is being released years after these other films have come and gone and this genre's trend has all but passed, the audience is left with a familiar but stale taste in their minds and little else to show for their time at the movies.

The film gets a D and is rated PG-13

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 summer diversion flick willing to do anything to get a laugh.

It gets a C and is rated R.

Christopher Robin
Starring: Ewan McGregor and Hayley Atwell
Rated PG   

Now all grown up, Christopher Robin is burdened with the duties of a lackluster job and the pressures of fatherhood. He has lost his way and needs to be reminded about the simple joys of childhood.

Disney's “Christopher Robin” is slow and methodical film, and takes the audience to another time where storytelling wasn't rushed and summers lingered a little longer.

The film can be compared slightly to “Hook,” as both film addressed the problems of adulthood and recapturing childhood innocence. But the biggest difference between the two movies is that “Christopher Robin” offers a gentle whisper to unveil its plot, while “Hook” was more exuberant and told its story at the top of its lungs.

As both stories work well and eventually get their point across, I am not sure if this generation of children and young adults will have the attention span and patience to let “Christopher Robin” unfold.

It gets a B and is rated PG.

Monday, July 30, 2018

New on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy for July 31, 2018 "Miracle Season," "Tully" and "Overboard"

The Miracle Season
Starring: Helen Hunt and William Hurt
Rated PG  
Based on true events, the film tells the story of high school athlete Caroline Found and the West High School Trojans' girls volleyball team. After Caroline "Line" Found dies tragically, her team must band together under the guidance of their tough-love coach in hopes of winning the state championship.

“The Miracle Season” is not a bad film, despite its heavy handed heart tugging. The film hits all the notes it should and offers a few well paced and heartfelt moments.

William Hurt, who plays Caroline's kind and compassionate grieving father is counterbalanced by Helen Hunt's more direct and seemingly insensitive Coach Bresnahan. The juxtaposition of the pair seems to reflect the two sides of the grieving process.

However that being said, the film just can't seem to get out of second gear as it trudges along to its inevitable wet hanky ending.

“The Miracle Season” ends up being a run of the mill sports film with a spattering of better than average moments.

It gets a C and is rated PG.

Starring: Charlize Theron
Rated R   
When Marlo gives birth to her third baby, her brother contracts the services of a nanny, named Tully, on Marlo's behalf. At first Marlo thinks of having a nanny as an unnecessary indulgence, but as the two women get to know each other better, they begin to form an unexpected bond, although their relationship is not always such smooth sailing.

"Tully" is a dark comedy about a woman at her wit's end and beginning a downward roll into deep depression. 

Her only saving grace is the young and free-thinking nanny hired to help with the load as she battles for her sanity. Her conversations and ultimately her awakening is at this film's core.

This beautifully written script acted impeccably by Charlize Theron is well worth watching.

It gets a B and is rated R.

Starring: Anna Farris and Eva Longoria
Rated PG-13   

The 1987 iconic comedy gets a facelift as Anna Farris stars as a young, struggling mom who gets back at an unjust employer.

This new version has so many problems in it from beginning to end that I can't figure out how it got the green light.

These cinematic problems include virtually no on screen chemistry between the two lead actors in the movie, the film spends too much time with long weighty dialogue and overly silly gags.

In the final reel, "Overboard" is just a very pale shadow of the original.

It gets a D and is rated PG-13.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

New in Theaters July 27, 2018 "Teen Titans Go! To The Movies" and "Mission Impossible: Fallout"

Teen Titans Go! To The Movies
Starring the Voices of: Will Arnett, Nicolas Cage and Kristen Bell
Rated PG   

A villain's maniacal plan for world domination sidetracks five teenage superheroes who dream of Hollywood stardom.

“Teen Titans Go! To The Movies” is a fun and often times irreverent animated feature that offers humor for young and old.

The film is well written and will keep your kids entertained with better-than-expected animated action scenes and silly situations.

“Teen Titans Go! To The Movies” gets a solid B and is rated PG.

Mission Impossible: Fallout
Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg and Henry Cavill
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.

It's rated PG-13.

Monday, July 23, 2018

New on Blu-ray and DVD for July 24, 2018 "Ready Player One"

Ready Player One
Starring: Tye Sheridan and Olivia Cooke
Rated PG-13   

In the year 2045, the real world is a harsh place. The only time Wade Watts, played by Tye Sheridan, truly feels alive is when he escapes to the OASIS, an immersive virtual universe where most of humanity spends their days. 

In the OASIS, you can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. The only limits are your own imagination.

The OASIS was created by the brilliant and eccentric programmer, who left his immense fortune and total control of the Oasis to the winner of a three-part contest he designed to find a worthy heir.

When Wade conquers the first challenge of the reality-bending treasure hunt, he and his friends (aka the 'High Five') are hurled into a fantastical universe of discovery and danger to save the OASIS.

Although “Ready Player One” is based on Earnest Cline's high energy book, the film can not compete with the level of action within the novel's pages. But the film does capture the adventure and the spirit of the book.

Directed by Steven Spielberg, “Ready Player One” is a love letter to pop-culture. The movie is jammed-packed with imagery and odes to iconic symbols of childhood with the background being littered with familiar faces, characters and sounds from a lifetime of loving pop-culture.

The film is the cinematic equivalent of going through a movie and game player's closet and finding hidden treasures. There are so many references that it's hard to see them in one sitting. There's terrific tip of the hat salutes to “Back to the Future, “King Kong,” “The Iron Giant,” “Willie Wonka” and a wonderfully done tribute to “The Shining.”

Like a video game gone out of control, the movie immerses you in a world that's bright and shiny and populated with all kinds of avatars, making the digital world of the film interesting and eye popping.

The digital world is counterbalanced by the grey and grungy real world, which Spielberg shot using film stock to give reality a grainy and dark feel.

In the end “Ready Player One” is a film you'll need to see 2 or 3 times to drink it all in.

It gets a B and is rated PG-13.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Opening in Theaters July 20, 2018 "Mama Mia!: Here We Go Again"

Mama Mia!: Here We Go Again
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Lily James and Cher
Rated PG-13   

While Sophie has just found out she's pregnant, she focuses on her mother Donna's young life during her pregnancy. Like Donna, Sophie realizes the need to take risks.

It's been 10 years since the release of “Mama Mia” in theaters, now comes the sequel which finds Sophie now pregnant and facing her fears. With the help of her 3 fathers and Donna's best friends, Sophie discovers her mother's journey and her strength.

“Mama Mia 2: Here We Go Again” is not a perfect film, but it is an exuberant one. It offers up a celebration of life and the joy of family much to the credit of its cast led by Lily James as young Donna and Amanda Seyfried as Sophie, Donna's daughter.

Underscored with more music from ABBA, the movie is well paced as it follows both our heroines in 2 different time lines, which ultimately come together in a very touching, joyful and emotional way.

Mama Mia 2: Here We Go Again” is well worth seeing and singing along to.

It gets a B and is rated PG-13