Thursday, February 20, 2020

New in Theaters February 21, 2020 "The Call of the Wild"

The Call of the Wild
Starring: Harrison Ford and Karen Gillan
Rated PG   

Based on Jack London's novel, the film follows a sled dog as he tries to survive both nature and humans in the Yukon.

“The Call of the Wild” is a well-crafted adventure story focusing on the relationship between a frontiersman and a dog in late 1800's Alaska. Both rely on each other to survive, but there something much deeper than just survival. It is a balance between need and love.

Harrison Ford puts in a solid performance as the gruff outdoorsman John Thornton, an alcoholic looking for his big break.

The role of the dog. 'Buck,' is played by motion capture performer Terry Notary and is the model for Buck's facial gestures and movement. The blend of live-action and CGI works well in the film, but it is not perfect and a few times the audience will lose the suspension of belief.

In the end, “The Call of the Wild” is a throwback to those big adventure films of the 1950's and will be a family favorite when it hits DVD.

It gets a B and is rated PG.

Friday, February 14, 2020

New in Theaters February 14, 2020 "Fantasy Island," "Sonic the Hedgehog" and "Downhill"

Fantasy Island
Starring: Maggie Q and Lucy Hale
Rated PG-13   

Blumhouse's takes on the iconic '70's TV show adding a darker and malevolent feel.

“Fantasy Island” is a poorly executed throw-away film that will confuse and aggravate audiences. The film offers 4 intersecting stories with plot holes big enough to drive a train through.

By the end of the film the audience is not only under-entertained but their intelligence has been insulted by the barrage of bad storytelling, terrible acting and inferior editing.

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

Sonic The Hedgehog
Starring: Jim Carrey, Ben Schwartz and James Marsden
Rated PG   

Based on SEGA's popular video game, an alien who happens to be a very fast blue hedgehog makes his way to earth and is chased by an evil genius.

“Sonic the Hedgehog” is a fast-paced (pardon the pun) comic adventure. The film belongs wholly to Jim Carrey's mad genius 'Dr. Robotnik.' Carrey pulls out all stops and let's his own comic genius loose and the result is a manically fun chase movie that will entertain any age.

In for the ride is James Marsden, as a cop who gets tangled in the chase. Marsden is perfect as the innocent bystander who befriends Sonic and is pulled into the adventure.
Also worth mentioning is Ben Schwartz who was both the voice of Sonic and the motion capture actor for the film. Schwartz's performance breathed life into Sonic, allowing the audience to empathize with the character.

For being an unexpected treat, “Sonic the Hedgehog” gets a solid B and is rated PG.

Starring: Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Rated R    

Barely escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation in the Alps, a married couple is thrown into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate their lives and how they feel about each other.

“Downhill” is a remake of the 2014 Swiss film “Force Majeure.” Simply, this new remake lacks character and direction. And because it stars Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, you might think it's a comedy... think again. It is a droll and lifeless film with a few spotty, uncomfortable laughs, but mostly the movie is dull and tedious.

In the end, you'll want to see it but don't. It gets a D and is rated R.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

New in Theaters February 7, 2020 "Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn"

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Starring: Margo Robbie and Ewan McGregor
Rated R    

After splitting up with The Joker, Harley Quinn teams up with Renee Montoya, The Black Canary and The Huntress to save a young girl from a sadistic crime lord.

“Birds of Prey” tries unsuccessfully to blend a few different characters from different DC Comic platforms. The result is a forgettable mess with mostly lackluster performances and an uninteresting plot.

The story is told in a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards making the film harder for an audience to follow and very annoying at times. Adding to the mess is an attempt to mimic “Deadpool” with an escalated amount of violence and language. But unlike “Deadpool,” there is no sharp and stinging sense of humor found in “Birds of Prey,” giving the film a flat and tired feeling.

The film's only saving graces are Margot Robbie as “Harley Quinn” and Ewan McGregor as “Roman,” the evil crime lord whom is bent on taking over Gotham City. Both performances are outstanding despite the silly and bland script they are saddled with.

In the end, “Birds of Prey” just isn't enough to take these characters into franchise mode.

Because of Margot Robbie and Ewan McGregor's performances, I am elevating “Birds of Prey” to a C.

It's rated R.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Talking Pictures Lounge & Red Carpet Interviews from Sundance 2020 (Part 3)

Talking Pictures caught up to the stars and filmmakers making a buzz at this year's Sundance Film Festival (Part 3)

Talking Pictures Lounge & Red Carpet Interviews from Sundance 2020 (Part 2)

Talking Pictures caught up to the stars and filmmakers making a buzz at this year's Sundance Film Festival! (Part 2)

Talking Pictures Lounge & Red Carpet Interviews from Sundance 2020

Talking Pictures caught up to the stars and the filmmakers making a buzz at this year's Sundance Film Festival! (Part 1)

New on Blu-ray & DVD February 4, 2020 "Playing with Fire," "Doctor Sleep" and "Last Christmas"

Playing with Fire
Starring: John Cena and Keegan-Michael Kay
Rated PG    

A team of firefighters have to deal with 3 rambunctious kids they rescued.

“Playing with Fire” is just a bubblegum film whose flavor runs out way too soon. There's a few laughs for the young kids, but over all, less than enjoyable for anyone over 11.

This has all the feeling of a 3rd rate 'straight-to-video' movie and is just plain forgettable.

It gets a D and is rated PG

Last Christmas
Starring: Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding
Rated PG-13   

A woman, who has made some disastrous mistakes in her life, begins to put her broken pieces together when she meets a guy to good to be true.

“Last Christmas” is a surprisingly satisfying little Christmas movie about family, responsibility and redemption. Although a bit forced, the film manages to leave the audience with a good and positive ending.

Emilia Clarke is endearing as “Kate” who, during the course of the movie, begins to realize her true potential and finding joy.

“Last Christmas” is a nice little package to open during the holiday season.

It gets a B and is rated PG-13.

Doctor Sleep
Starring: Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson
Rated R    

In the sequel to “The Shining,” Danny Torrance is now an adult self-medicating and doing all he can to rid himself of the horror he encountered at The Overlook Hotel. When he meets a young girl with similar powers, it begins a battle for the child's soul.

“Doctor Sleep” is a well-balanced and meticulous sequel. With equal measures of acting, suspense and special effects, the film is not just an homage to the previous film, but an extension of it.

Director Mike Flanagan creates a world both familiar and yet different enough to avoid the pitfalls of repeating the first film. This is inspired filmmaking done by someone who knows and understands the story and its fans.

This is as good as a sequel gets.

“Doctor Sleep” gets an A and is rated R.