Category Archives: Movie Review

Avengers: Endgame Review

Note: This review will be as spoiler free as possible.

The final film in any film series should pack an emotional punch, ramp up the drama and end with the feeling that the audience has seen everything that they need to see.

After months of buildup and expectation, Avengers Endgame premiered this weekend.

Starting off where Avengers: Infinity War ended, the film begins with a feeling of grief. After their numbers of have been decimated by Thanos (Josh Brolin), the surviving Avengers are not themselves. The loss of their friends and colleagues has cast a pall over the team. But Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) may have the resolution to their problem. But the plan is dangerous and has the possibility to not be completed as expected.

Can Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/ The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle), Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and  Scott Lang/Ant-Man bring back the lost Avengers or are they doomed for failure?

If there any definitive comic book super hero movie, Avengers: Endgame is it. Despite it’s 3 hour-ish run, it is not boring, predictable or has the feeling that some scenes could have been left for the extras section of the DVD. It has plenty humor, heart pounding action, feels emotionally authentic and has an ending that feels just perfect.

I also loved that the female Avengers were given just as much screen time and ability to kick ass as their male counterparts.

I absolutely recommend it. I also absolutely recommend that you use the bathroom before going into the theater. Trust me, you do not want to miss a moment of this film.

Avengers: Endgame is presently in theaters. 

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Throwback Thursday-Ice Princess (2005)

Stepping out of our comfort zone is often easier said than done. Especially when you want something, but it seems impossible.

In the 2005 movie, Ice Princess (based on a story by Meg Cabot), Casey (Michelle Trachtenberg) is a brain with a capital B. A bookworm who never quite fits in with her classmates, Casey dreams of becoming a championship figure skater. But her mother, Joan (Joan Cusack) has visions of her daughter climbing up the academic track. Casey wants to be like Gen (Hayden Panettiere), the popular girl who has some serious ice skating skills and an attitude to match. Gen’s mother, Tina (Kim Cattrall), a former figure skater, offers to train both girls.

Casey is faced with two seemingly impossible obstacles: disappointing her mother and training without the support of those around her. The only one who believes in her is Teddy (Trevor Blumas), Gen’s brother. Will Casey achieve her dream or she is doomed to failure?

Is Ice Princess just a tad too predictable? Without a doubt. But it has the timeless message of going after what you want, even if it seems impossible.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

 

 

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Dumbo Movie Review

Over the past few years, Disney is intend on using our childhood memories to bring us once more to the movie theaters. This weekend, the reboot of Dumbo (1941) was released.

Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) has just returned home from fighting in World War I, sacrificing one of his arms in the process of fighting for his country. His wife died during the war, leaving his two children Milly (Nico Parker, Thandie Newton‘s daughter) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) motherless. Stuck in the past, Holt is unable to move forward until his boss and circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) puts Holt in charge of the elephants. One of the female elephants has just given birth, the newborn elephant has unusually large ears that allow him to fly. After the circus has a bit of success with the new elephant, named Dumbo, V.A. Vandervere (Michael Keaton) takes notice of the little elephant. He wants to add Dumbo to Colette Marchant’s (Eva Green) aerialist act. But Vandervere’s plans are not completely altruistic; he has some plans up his sleeve that are questionable.

First of all, I have to give kudos to the screenwriters. Not only did smartly remove the racist caricatures of the crows, but they used Dreamland as the background for the second half of the movie. Dreamland is not a well-known subject unless one is well versed in the history of New York City or early 20th century amusement parks.

I haven’t seen the original animated film in quite a few years, but I feel like this reboot is close enough in narrative to its predecessor. What is nice about this film is that not only is not the typical slightly out-there Tim Burton film, but it speaks of animal cruelty and gives Milly, as a budding scientist, her due.

I recommend it.

Dumbo is presently in theaters.

 

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Hotel Mumbai Review

On November 26th, 2008, the eyes of the world were riveted on Mumbai, India.

Terrorists were openly and brazenly killing innocent civilians. When all was said and done, nearly 200 people were killed and another 300 were injured.

The story of that day and more specifically, the terrorist’s focus on the Taj Mahal Palace is told in the new film, Hotel Mumbai.

After terrorists storm the hotel, staff and guests must come together to somehow get out of the hotel alive. Head chef Oberoi (Anupam Kher) and waiter Arjun (Dev Patel) are two of the surviving staff who are simply trying to keep the surviving guests alive. Married couple David (Armie Hammer) and Zahra (Nazanin Boniadi) have to make a tough decision. They can either stay together or split up and find a way to get to their nanny, Sally (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) and infant son.

I have mixed feelings about this film. On one hand, it’s a true and riveting story about human beings who have no choice, but to find a way to work together in the face of life or death circumstances. In this film, it would have been easy to create a 2D carte blanche villain. But the creative team fleshed out the villains in a way that makes them human, even if their actions are despicable. But on the other hand, the film teetered on boring at moments.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Hotel Mumbai is presently in theaters. 

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Captain Marvel Movie Review

Disclaimer: I know nothing about the Captain Marvel comic books, this review is strictly based on the movie. 

These days, movie-goers have a certain expectation when it comes to movies that are based on comic book super heroes.

Captain Marvel was released into theaters a few weeks ago. Vers (Brie Larson) is a Kree, super-human alien like race. She is a member of the elite Starforce Military. Her mentor and commander Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) tries to teach Vers to control her emotions and her powers. Vers is captured by the Skrull, a shape shifting alien race that has been at war with the Kree for years. During her captivity, the memories of another life and another identity as Carol Danvers starts to become more prominent.

After escaping from her captors, Vers crashes to earth. Landing in a Blockbuster Video, she is greeted by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Together, they will uncover the truth of Vers’s past and the hard truth about the Skrull lead by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn).

It’s not a secret that women in super hero movies, especially in leading roles that are not the love interest or significant other, are few and far between. What this film has going for it is humor, a strong female lead and a villain who is not really a villain. In most super hero narratives, there is a clear delineation between the hero and the villain. But in this movie, that line is not so clear.

I wanted to like this film as much as I liked the other Marvel films. But there is something missing from this film.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Captain Marvel is presently in theaters. 

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The Aftermath Movie Review

War has a way of changing relationships.

In the new movie, The Aftermath (based on the book of the same name by Rhidian Brook), Lewis Morgan (Jason Clarke) is a member of the British army who has been charged with rebuilding Hamburg just after the end of World War II. His wife, Rachel (Keira Knightley) is joining him after a prolonged separation. Though their marriage appears to be solid, there are cracks beneath the surface.

Their new home is a villa just outside of Hamburg. It belongs to Stephen Lubert (Alexander Skarsgård),  a widower with  a young daughter. While Lewis is preoccupied with work, Rachel and Stephen’s relationship changes from antagonistic to romantic. In this political and emotionally charged relationship, old wounds will be opened, personal histories will be revealed and questions about the future will have to be answered.

I am sorry to say that I was disappointed with this film. While it was well done and well acted, it was just missing something. I can’t put my finger on what was missing, but it did have the emotional impact I hoped it would make.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

The Aftermath is presently in theaters. 

 

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Gloria Bell Movie Review

It’s obvious to many movie fans that women of a certain age are not always given the same screen time or the same roles that their male counterparts are given. At best, she is the mother or mother figure of the main character. At worst, she is the under-sexed or over-sexed cougar looking to bed the younger male lead.

In the new film, Gloria Bell, the main character is neither simply the mother or the cougar. Based on the 2013 Chilean film, Gloria, Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore), is a 50 something single divorcee living in Los Angeles. With her kids grown and out of the house, she blows off steam after work by going to dance clubs. One night, she meets Arnold (John Turturro), who is also a 50 something divorcee with grown kids.  It seems like Gloria and Arnold are on the path to a long-term relationship, but there are complications. Will their relationship last or is it doomed before it can even get started?

My only complaint about this film is that it was a little long. Some scenes could have been shortened or left for the extras portion on the DVD. Otherwise, the film is brilliant. It’s rare for Hollywood to produce a film about a vibrant middle-aged woman who is defined as an individual and not defined by her romantic status or her children. Gloria, as a character is both refreshing and awe-inspiring. When her relationship with Arnold does not appear to be solid, Gloria does not console herself with romantic movies, alcohol and her favorite pint of Ben and Jerry’s. She goes about her life with confidence and perseverance. I wish there were more female characters like Gloria, especially women of a certain age.

I absolutely recommend it.

Gloria Bell is currently in theaters. 

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Fighting With My Family Movie Review

When one is the subject of a biopic, they are normally no longer with us or getting up in age.

The new film, Fighting With My Family, is a biopic about Paige, a wrestler who won the Divas Championship at the young age of 21. To this day, she is the youngest woman to have won the title. Today, she is in her mid 20’s.

Saraya Knight aka Paige (Florence Pugh) lives and breathes professional wrestling. Her parents earn their living and support their family by holding matches and teach wrestling to local kids in Norwich, England. Her dream one day is to be a professional wrestler with the WWE. The opportunity to see this dream become a reality comes by an offer to audition for the WWE. The problem is that Paige passes her audition and her brother Zak, who shares his sister’s dream (Jack Lowden) does not get beyond the initial audition stage.

While Paige faces the hurdle of the next stage in her training, Zak must deal with the idea that his dreams of becoming a professional wrestler will never come to pass. Can Zak make peace with the path that his life has taken and more importantly, does Paige have the fight in her to become the wrestler she has always wanted to be?

I know that it’s too early to create a top ten list of movies released in 2019. But if there was such a list, Fighting With My Family would be pretty high up on the list. The movie has humor, has a heart and is genuinely engaging. Most of all, the message of being yourself and pushing past the obstacles between yourself and your dreams speaks to all of us.

I recommend it.

Fighting With My Family is presently in theaters. 

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What Men Want Movie Review

Though the Feminist movement has made great strides over the decades, there is still much work to be done.

In the new film, What Men Want (a gender flip of the 2000 film What Women Want), Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson) is a sports agent who is expecting to receive a  promotion. When she does not receive that promotion, which goes to a colleague who is Caucasian and male, she is not pleased to say the least.  During an outing to celebrate a friend’s upcoming wedding, they visit a psychic who gives Ali a questionable tea to drink. This drink allows Ali to hear men’s thoughts. She uses her new skill to advantage, but at what cost?

Yes, one could argue that this film is formulaic. It could also be a bit shorter. But, it speaks to the very timely issue of respect and equal pay within the workplace, a very real situation that women deal with everyday.

Do I recommend it? I could be leaning toward yes.

What Men Want is presently in theaters. 

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To Dust Movie Review

When we lose someone whom we love, the grieving process is a personal one. Some people retreat into themselves and the past. Others carry on as if their loved one is still around.

In the new movie, To Dust, Shmuel (Géza Röhrig) is a Hasidic Cantor living in upstate New York who has just lost in his wife. Secretly obsessing that his wife’s soul is tormented as her body decays, he seeks to calm his obsession via science. This leads him to Albert (Matthew Broderick), a science Professor who teaches at the local community college. Initially, Albert is hesitant to help Shmuel. But then he something changes and Albert is all in with Shmuel’s quest. Will Shmuel find out the answers he is seeking and how will Albert help in his cause?

Director and c0-screenwriter Shawn Snyder was inspired to write the film after the death of his mother from cancer. While it falls into the buddy comedy genre, the film is not the standard buddy comedy. The comedy is very dry and is launched by Shmuel’s grief and his intense preoccupation of finding the answers to his questions. As a person of the Jewish faith, I appreciated that the creative team treated the Hasidic characters with respect instead of being presented to the audience as 2-D caricatures. If I had to name my favorite aspect of the film, it would be that Shmuel’s grief is universal.

My only reservation about this film is that not only is it a little long, but it’s not for everyone. While I appreciate dry comedy, it was a little too dry for my taste.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

To Dust is presently in theaters.

 

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