Thursday, May 23, 2019

New in Theaters May 24, 2019 "Brightburn," "Booksmart" and "Aladdin"

Starring: Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein
Rated R   
On the eve of their graduation two high school over achievers realize they should have studied less and partied more.

“Booksmart” is a buddy party comedy. But, unfortunately this party never happens for the audience as the main characters are not engaging enough for the viewer to want to follow on this adventure.

“Booksmart” is guilty of force feeding the audience tired and worn out jokes, one-liners and sight gags backed up by terrible and lackluster performances.

In the end “Booksmart” doesn't graduate and deserves to e left behind.

It gets a D and is rated R.

Starring: Elizabeth Banks and Jackson A. Dunn
Rated R   

What if the 'Superman' story was twisted so that the superhero was more super evil?

That's the premise behind the new film “Brightburn” as we watch a troubled and bullied boy begin to realize that he has abilities beyond mortal humans.

The film is a complete and wonderfully shocking surprise and so well done, it will end up as the best horror / thriller of the year.

If you're into white knuckle rides, “Brightburn” is exactly for you.

It gets an A and is rated R.

Starring: Will Smith, Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott
Rated PG   

Disney's live action version of their 1992 Oscar award-winning animated film.

After not being too impressed with the release, earlier this year, of “Dumbo,” Disney bounced back with this sure-fire, audience pleasing hit under the direction of Guy Ritchie.

“Aladdin” is simply magical and grants the viewer its wish to be entertained. Of course there will be comparisons to the animated film, and that's ok. But this revisit has it's own pace and heart.

Will Smith and the main cast are spot-on and offer up exuberant performances with spectacular special effects and a wonderful score by Disney alum Alan Menken.

All in all, “Aladdin” is excellent. It gets an A and is rated PG.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

New in Theaters May 17, 2019 "John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum," "A Dog's Journey" and "The Sun is Also a Star"

A Dog's Journey
Starring: Dennis Quaid and Josh Gad
Rated PG   
In this bookend to the film “A Dog's Purpose,” Bailey continues his journey in many reincarnations to watch over his humans.

The film suffers from being overly emotional at times and very cheesy. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, because that combination works well in this film.

“A Dog's Journey” is best enjoyed if you see “A Dog's Purpose” first.

It gets a B and is rated PG.

The Sun is Also a Star
Starring: Charles Melton and Yara Shahidi
Rated PG-13   

Natasha is not the type of girl who meets a cute boy (named Daniel) on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when her family is twelve hours away from being deported, but she does.

“The Sun is Also a Star” is yet another in a line of young adult coming of age movies with a hook. This time it's not a conflict of cultures or medical issues but a clash of philosophies. Natasha is a firm believer in science and Daniel believes in fate and love at first sight.

The film is aimed at the teen market, as I don't believe adults will respond to this type of superficial and convenient storytelling. As with the recent films “5 Feet Apart” and “After,” this type of movie is a one-trick pony using every cliche in the book to manipulate its young audience into caring, without the benefit of good character development.

The film is rife with one-dimensional characters, hackneyed dialogue and an over-produced soundtrack.

It gets a D and is rated PG-13.

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Starring: Keanu Reeves and Halley Berry
Rated R   
“John Wick 3” begins just after the events in 'Chapter 2' as our gun-toting hero now has a $14 million dollar price on his head.

The film starts off with the non-stop high violent action that you'd expect from a “John Wick” sequel. But somewhere around the 40 minute mark, the movie becomes tiresome, confusing and repetitious.

And that's the core problem with a franchise action film. One you've peaked, you have no where to go.

In the end “John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum” kills everything including any fun or any desire to see a chapter 4.

It gets a D and is rated R.

Monday, May 13, 2019

New on Blu-ray & DVD May 14, 2019 "Fighting with My Family" and "Happy Death Day 2 U"

Happy Death Day 2 U
Starring: Jessica Rothe
Rated PG-13

The sequel to the 2017 film has our heroine going back through the never ending time loop, dying over and over again.

Happy Death Day 2 U” is a satisfying, well written and acted sequel. The film's charm is that it doesn't take itself seriously and the audience is led on a wild and fun ride.

“Happy Death Day 2 U” simply works as a funny thriller.

It gets a B and is rated PG-13.

Fighting with My Family
Starring: Dwayne Johnson and
Rated PG-13   
A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment.

Fighting with My Family” is an underdog story, but very well written and entertaining underdog story.

Based on true events, young Saraya “Paige” Knight, played by Florence Pugh, has dreams of following her family's footsteps and becoming a professional wrestler. When Paige makes the cut into the WWE, her troubles begin.

“Fighting with My Family” is a joyful film about overcoming the obstacles in life yet, all the while, being true to yourself.

I found “Fighting with My Family” a hidden gem which should have received more promotion while it was in theaters February. Now that its available on Blu-ray & DVD check it out.

It gets a B and is rated PG-13.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

New in Theaters May 10, 2019 "Detective Pikachu," "POMS," "The Hustle" and "Tolkien"

The Hustle
Starring: Anne Hathaway and RebelWilson
Rated PG-13   
Two female scam artists, one high class the other low-brow, team up for revenge against the men that wronged them.

“The Hustle” is a redress and gender reverse of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” the 1988 comedy starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin. The difference between the two films is the first one was good. This one … not so much.

Both Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson forgot to bring their comic timing and abilities to this film. What they did bring was a total lack of engagement and energy to ingratiate themselves to the audience.

“The Hustle” is seriously devoid of good comic writing and is as forgettable as a used toothpick.

Miss it. It gets an F and is rated PG-13

Starring: Nicholas Hoult and Lilly Collins
Rated PG-13   

Tolkien explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school.

An amazingly well done bio-pic revolving around one of the best read authors of the 20th century as begins to form the characters he will create in “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” based on the people he knew.

“Tolkien” is a well paced, well acted film and very much worth seeing.

It gets a B and is rated PG-13.

Starring: Diane Keaton and Pam Grier
Rated PG-13   

A group of elderly women decide to create a cheerleading team in their retirement home.

“POMS” is another in a long line of geriatric comedies that just aren't funny. Nothing in “POMS” works and most of it is just predictable sight gags.

Don't waste your time. It gets a D and is rated PG-13.

Detective Pikachu
Starring: Ryan Reynolds and Justice Smith
Rated PG

In a world where people collect Pokémon to do battle, a young man comes across an intelligent talking Pikachu who seeks to be a detective.

If you do not know one Pokemon from another, you'll be a bit lost in this mis-matched buddy film.

But, even if you're not a fan, the movie moves a brisk pace and has some great humor throughout.

Ryan Reynolds sounds like he's having a blast as the voice of the sarcastic Pikachu, while Justice Smith plays the levelheaded son looking for his missing father.

“Detective Pikachu” is simply a fun film. It gets a B and is rated PG.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

New in Theaters May 3, 2019 "UglyDolls" and "Long Shot"

Starring: Kelly Clarkson & Nick Jonas
Rated PG   

Based on the children's toys, the free-spirited UglyDolls confront what it means to be different, struggle with their desire to be loved, and ultimately discover that you don't have to be perfect to be amazing because who you truly are is what matters most.

“UglyDolls' tries to pass on the message that 'being different is ok,' but the film does it in such a poorly executed and bland way. The animation is lackluster and dingy, making the movie seem rather creepy, and the voice acting is like listening to a third-rate table read.

The story keeps hitting the audience over the head that 'ugly is beautiful,' but never talking about the beauty inside or that everyone has a special gift that makes them beautiful. In fact after several minutes of this film, I was put off by the constant use of the word 'ugly,' which like 'beauty,' is in the eye of the beholder and completely subjective.

The story aims solely at outward appearance and never really pushes more than the idea that even if you are less than perfect, someone may love you.

Pass this garbage by.

“UglyDolls” gets an F and is rated PG.

Long Shot
Starring: Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron
Rated R   
In the film, protest journalist Fred Flarsky reunites with his first crush, Charlotte Field, now one of the most influential women in the world. As she prepares to make a run for the Presidency, Charlotte hires Fred as her speechwriter and sparks fly.

“Long Shot” is a mis-matched comedy of an everyday 'Joe' going for the unobtainable woman and all though all the odds are against him, he still tries.

We've seen this story a few dozen times in such films as “She's Out of My League,” “Moulin Rouge,” “Annie Hall” and even “Warm Bodies.” The differences between those films and “Long Shot” is Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron have very little chemistry on screen.

There is no overwhelming reason for these two to be involved, except for some nostalgic feelings from their childhood, which isn't enough to carry this comedy past the average.

Granted there were a few laughs in the film, but not enough to take the film higher than average.

“Long Shot” gets a C and is rated R.

Monday, April 29, 2019

New on Blu-ray & DVD April 30, 2019 "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part" and "What Men Want"

What Men Want
Starring: Taraji P. Henson and Tracy Morgan
Rated R   

In the film a female sports agent, finding it tough to compete in the male-dominated career, suddenly gains the ability to read men's minds.

Of course, “What Men Want” is a re-do of the 2000 film “What Women Want,” starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt.

In this updated version, we find Taraji P. Henson is given the ability to listen to men's thoughts and trying to navigate through the battle of the sexes.

The problem with “What Men Want” is that it's simply not a very funny film. The movie is too agenda-laden with a lot of male-bashing and loaded with less than likable characters, making the film too heavy at times and ultimately pushing the audience away.

In the end, “What Men Want” just isn't worth the rental fee.

It gets a D and is rated R.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
Starring the Vocal Talents of: Chris Pratt, Will Arnett and Elizabeth Banks
Rated PG

5 years after the events in the first film, our heroes have hit hard times where everything isn't quite as awesome as it used to be. 

Now living in an apocalyptic world, a battle begins with aliens from outer space.

“The Lego Movie 2” is 3 years too late. Over the last couple of years, Warner Animation has given us several Lego-based films in that time span and now the franchise is suffering from over-exposure and tired writing.

Had this film been released 3 years ago, I think it would have been received much better and would have been a perceived as a 'crisper' satire rather than what it is, an average kid's film with no teeth.

In the end, “The Lego Movie 2” feels desperate and forced.

It gets a C and is rated PG.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

New in Theaters April 26, 2018 "Avengers: Endgame" (Spoiler Free)

Avengers: Endgame
Starring: Everyone in Hollywood
Rated PG-13   
After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War, the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos' actions and restore order to the universe.

After 10 years and 21 movies, Marvel Studios concludes this part of the Marvel Universe with a grand-slam home run.

“Avengers: Endgame” is masterful storytelling at it's best with its pitch perfect writing and the mix of CGI and acting, the Russo brothers take this finale film to another level, even for the Marvel Universe.

A genuine blockbuster film and a must see, “Endgame” gets a solid A and is rated PG-13.