Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of August 17, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of August 17, 2020

Unhinged
Rated R for strong violent content, and language throughout
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 49% at time of writing
In Theaters

After COVID-19 hit, this little-known thriller with Russell Crowe made the move to be the first official theatrical release once theaters would open in early July. Of course that didn’t happen and now it will be the first big theatrical release now that theaters might be finally opening this week. The story follows a very angry and off-kilter southerner who, after being honked at while not moving at a traffic light, decides to take out all of his life’s frustrations on an unsuspecting woman and her son, in order to show her what a bad day really looks like. Upon first watching the trailer, I was immediately convinced that the timing couldn’t be worse for a film like this, which seemed almost politically-themed with two sides that can’t figure out their differences. But I was wrong there. This is a monster movie, with Crowe playing a creature almost like a land-locked Jaws, bound and determined to wreak mindless havoc and chaos to destroy the life of a single person, without any regard for his own. He envelops his character quite perfectly and turns out to be a terrifically scary force on the screen. The film turns out to be a fast-paced road rage thriller with a resounding message that should help us all the next time we consider either getting angry or accidentally exacerbating someone else’s anger on the highway. B+

The One and Only Ivan
Rated PG for mild thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%
Available on Disney+

Originally slated for a theatrical release this past week, Ivan, based on the true story from the children’s novel by K. A. Applegate, stars Bryan Cranston as a circus owner and ringmaster who runs a small mall-based circus featuring a menagerie of talking animals including a silverback gorilla (Sam Rockwall) and an elderly elephant (Angelina Jolie). Struggling to fill their seats, the flawed but loving owner does what he can to keep the circus alive and the animals in his care. Honestly, the movie has a rough start and I was ready to give up pretty quickly, not thinking I’d be able to cut through all the cheese. But once you are into the meat of the story, the film converts into an interesting and thoughtful family film with a simple yet effective message and an unexpectedly poignant epilogue. So what I thought might end up a train wreck, wound up to be a sweet surprise. B

Emperor
Rated PG-13 for violence throughout, language including racial epithets, and some disturbing images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: None at time of writing
Available on Disc and Streaming

Yet another film with theatrical aspirations whose dreams were crushed by COVID-19, is this little-know story about a slave named Shields Green, nicknamed “emperor” due to being an apparent descendant of African kings, who runs away after tragedy hits his life on his plantation, eventually finding himself fighting with a group of abolitionists during the Raid on Harper’s Ferry, the battle that is thought to have initiated the Civil War. Just as in the recent film Harriet, there is a great story here which I was thankful to learn about. As a character, Green seems like a hero whose tale needs to be told to a wider audience, and Dayo Okeniyi puts up a strong performance to represent him, thankfully overshadowing the unnecessary fluff like the cunning slave hunter hired to catch him. Unfortunately, this version of the story feels rushed at 99 minutes, and by the end it is too apparent that this is a highlights reel rather than the historical epic it might deserve. That being said, I’m glad I was able to get a little insight in this brief introduction to a seemingly important historical figure who most will want to learn more about after the credits roll. B-

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