Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of March 23, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of March 23, 2020

Rated PG for action/peril and some mild thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
Available on VOD now. Available April 3 on Disney+

Pixar made the unfortunate decision to release their first big animated film of 2020 right when America and the rest of the world were hunkering down. So as a way to reach an audience, they decided to release immediately on streaming platforms rather than wait for the normal three month or longer window. And if you subscribe to Disney+, the film will be available on April 3 as part of the subscription. The story takes place in a land where elves, trolls, fairies and all sorts of fantastical creatures co-exist, but in a world much like our own with technology, schools, neighborhoods, cars and restaurants. When two elf brothers (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) discover their deceased father’s magical staff and instructions for bringing him back to life for one day, they go on a quest to see their dad once again. Overall, it’s a sweet story with a huge amount of talent behind it and a creative enough screenplay. But with all its creativity, it lacks the wit and cleverness we are used to seeing in Pixar films. It has an emotional punch that is quite nice, but not significant enough to make the film memorable. I will admit that this might have been a completely different experience had it been on a big screen for my first viewing, but I had to choose between seeing it in a theater or the Hawaiian vacation I was on, so small screen it had to be. That being said, I’m glad I didn’t have to wait months for Disney to release the disc, and while I could have waited until April 3 to see it free (as part of my Disney+ subscription), I decided it was worth $20 to purchase, just to support the industry while they are so desperately hurting. After all, had I taken my family to see it this last week in theaters (which I would have if we weren’t on lockdown), the film would have cost me several times that – so my mind was thinking “bargain!” And while it is not my favorite Pixar film in their growing universe, it is still a worthy addition that most families will thoroughly enjoy. B

Rated R for violence, some disturbing images, and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
Available on Disc and Streaming

One of the best films to come out of 2020 is this WWI thriller which tells the story of a young soldier who is asked to quickly rush through enemy territory to deliver a message to his brother before his entire division makes a mistake in their attack. To make the already exciting story that much more thrilling, director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) decided to shoot the film is almost one long take, giving the audience the feeling of the story playing out in real-time. And what a story! With so few films about the first World War, an entry like this is incredibly welcome. And with its style and flow, this is the closest thing I’ve ever experienced (or wanted to experience) to being there in person. From the opening shot, I was glued to the screen and worn out, physically and emotionally, when the credits rolled. It certainly helps to have a first-rate pedigree in regards to the production team with the multi-faceted Sam Mendes calling the shots and Oscar-winning Roger Deakins as cinematographer. And then there’s the score by Thomas Newman (which should have won the Oscar) which provides a wonderful musical companion to the already harrowing journey. In a time where everyone is looking for a great film to watch while stuck at home – this is a no-brainer and also one where it is worthwhile to check out all of the special features in order to have a better understanding of how such a monumentally ambitious project is created. A+

The Grudge
Rated R for disturbing violence and bloody images, terror and some language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 20%
Available on Disc and Streaming

In this attempt to revive the Grudge franchise, a detective must protect her family from harm after investigating the actions of a vengeful ghost, thus turning the spirit upon herself. I loved the original Japanese Grudge from 2003, which played as more of an art-house horror thriller than a traditional scarer. In a way – it was highly influential to many of the modern horror films of today. But then the American remake and its predecessors hit the screen, kind of ruining things. With this new addition, I was actually hopeful that the more than decent cast, including Demian Bichir and John Cho, could mean that the film was actually scary and not just confusing and goofy. Unfortunately, the plot here is nonsensical and incredibly hard to follow and the decent cast of actors completely waste their talents as you see in their eyes that they are angry at their agents for putting them in such an awful project. D

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of March 16, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of March 16, 2020

Richard Jewell
Rated R for language including some sexual references, and brief bloody images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Clint Eastwood’s latest biopic came and went with little fanfare late last year, but for the adults in the room, this is a great little film to catch up on as you are stuck at home. Taking place during after the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Richard Jewell is a wannabe cop who takes his park security job very seriously. Imagine Paul Blart: Mall Cop without the Segway. When he discovers a bomb at a well-attended concert, his swift actions saved hundreds of lives, but rather than getting the heroes reception he deserved, he became the FBI’s chief suspect, vilified by the media and the public alike. With a strong cast including newcomer Paul Walter Hauser as Jewell, Kathy Bates as his mother, as well as Sam Rockwall, Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde, the film serves as an excellent example of representing an unsung hero that we might not have even known was a hero due to how they were portrayed on our TVs. It also shows us that no matter what side of the aisle we are on, sometimes the people we listen to are wrong. It’s not overly preachy, but it will hit you with a tinge of guilt if your memories of this event are different than what ended up the reality. B+

A Hidden Life
Rated PG-13 for thematic material including violent images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Based on real events, A Hidden Life tells the story of an Austrian peasant farmer who refuses to fight for the Nazis during World War II. Told from the canvas of filmmaker Terrence Malick, the film moves along like visual poetry rather than sticking to a traditional script, much like Malick’s other films such as The Tree of Life and The New World. At times the film is stunningly beautiful and puts you in a trance-like dream state. But at three hours long, it meanders without seeming purpose for too long, making it hard to finish in one sitting. The acting is fine and as long as you are comfortable with Malick’s style, the way the story is told should feel comfortable. But in the end, it just wasn’t a film I could love or rave about. So I would recommend to watch if you are one of Malick’s fans, but maybe skip out if not. B-

Charlie’s Angels
Rated PG-13 for action/violence, language and some suggestive material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 52%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Charlie’s Angels has always been a franchise based on girl-power, but in order to make it more of a “Me Too” statement, Actress Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games) turns to writer/director to push forth a new vision for the resourceful squad of fighting investigators. The ridiculous plot follows the girls chasing down an assassin and an evil corporation responsible for a…. never mind. It doesn’t matter what the plot is because it’s that silly. Here we get to watch Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska kicking butt while looking good, all the while we are getting preached at about equality. At times the film has a good sense of humor with some decent laughs, and the fight sequences are entertaining enough, but as a whole, the film fails from its very new concept of who the girls really are now and what their organization is about. C

Uncut Gems
Rated R for pervasive strong language, violence, some sexual content and brief drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Adam Sandler heads up this neurotic crime thriller from the Safdie Brothers (Good Time), which follows a New York City jeweler who, on the lookout for the next big score, works his way into problem after problem on his way to the hustle that will hopefully change his life. This is not a comfortable ride to say the least, but between Sandler’s brilliant and Oscar-worthy performance, and the strange nervous energy that pervades the entire film, the movie keeps you on anxious edge for the more than two hours until its final crazy moments. I have to admit that this film isn’t for everybody. If you are looking for whacky Sandler, he isn’t here. For those of you like me, who love to see the deep range of a talented actor, you might just love this project. A-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of March 2, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of March 2, 2020

The Invisible Man
Rated R for some strong bloody violence, and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
In Theaters

From the first commercials and trailers they showed for this low-budget horror film from Blumhouse, I was quickly turned off. It looked predictable, and worse, I felt like they showed practically the whole movie in a two-minute preview. So naturally I was shocked when strong reviews started pouring in. But then I discovered the filmmaker was Leigh Whannell, the mind behind 2018’s spectacular low-budget thriller Upgrade. So I decided to check it out and I am so glad I did. This version of the popular horror character stars Elizabeth Moss as a young woman on the run from her ex-boyfriend, a technology mogul who has held her prisoner in his mansion for years. But after it is reported that he killed himself, she starts to feel his presence in her life, following her around like a dangerous ghost. I still feel the trailer showed way too much of the plot, but there is more here than you expect and the scares and chills are frequent and effective. There are plenty of plot holes to be found if you think too hard, but they are easy to forgive and overlook. So unexpectedly, The Invisible Man becomes a welcome and excellent representative of the horror genre. B+

Queen & Slim
Rated R for violence, some strong sexuality, nudity, pervasive language, and brief drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith are a sweet young professional black couple on a first date when a racist cop (played by Sturgill Simpson) ruins their night, with events that turn them into a couple on the run from the law. This could have been a one-sided narrative designed specifically for black audiences, but due to the fantastic script by Lena Waithe and the masterful directing of Melina Matsoukas, the film turns out to be a memorable, powerful and relevant journey that can be appreciated by anyone who loves great movies. It also helps that Daniel and Jodie here have an amazing chemistry that is sexy, fearless and captivating. The movie captured my attention quick and didn’t let go for two hours. B+

Dark Waters
Rated PG-13 for thematic content, some disturbing images and strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
Available on Disc and Streaming

In this based-on-a-true-story drama that really wants to be a thriller, Mark Ruffalo stars as a lawyer who leaves his cushy gig to take on DuPont after it is discovered that one of its biggest products, Teflon, is killing people. I have mixed feelings about the project. It does a very good job of telling the story about one of the most important consumer protection events of our lifetime, with great purpose and a sense of duty. But on the other hand, it very much has a movie-of-the-week feel to it that does nothing to elevate the story to greatness. So while this is a decent representation of a story that changed our world, it’s not told in a way that will call you to arms, which unfortunately is the only way a film like this works. B-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of February 24, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of February 24, 2020

Knives Out
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including brief violence, some strong language, sexual references, and drug material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Writer/director Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) continues his Hollywood hot streak with this A-lister mystery pic about a Southern detective (Daniel Craig) who is hired to investigate the possible murder of a famous author (Christopher Plummer), where every member of his family are suspects. Also starring Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Colette, as well as a star-making performance from newcomer Ana de Armas, the movie meanders through a web of deceit, lies and greed, making you feel comfortable in your whodunnit guesses until the very end where you realize how wrong you are. It is a fun, well-crafted comedic thriller with exceptional acting, all stemming from one of the biggest creative talents in the industry. A

Frozen II
Rated PG for action/peril and some thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%
Available on Disc and Streaming

In Disney’s latest princess musical, Elsa and Anna are happy and content in Arendale, when Elsa hears a mysterious call that leads her and her sister on a journey to discover the real truth about their parents and their past. As expected, the animation is gorgeous and much of the movie is fun and enjoyable. The music isn’t nearly as good as the first, but there are some decent songs, including a terrific 80’s style ballad ‘Lost in the Woods’ which could have only been better had Peter Cetera been the crooner. My biggest problem with the film is that I think I’m still a little Frozened out and I need to defrost. The first one was such a massive success which Disney has more than capitalized on, and this sequel feels like too much, too soon. It’s a quality show, but I wonder if it would have been more successful, both critically and financially, if they had waited a few more years. That being said, the kids don’t seem to mind too much so I’m sure it will be remembered fondly from the audience that matters the most here. B-

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

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of February 17, 2020

Jojo Rabbit
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic content, some disturbing images, violence, and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%
Available on Disc and Streaming

From the brilliant mind of New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi (Oscar-winner this year for Best Adapted Screenplay) comes this irreverent yet fantastic film about a young boy living in Germany during WWII who struggles with being in the Hitler Youth while at the same time befriending a young Jewish girl hidden in his walls while taking advice from an imaginary Hitler who follows him around. The first part is pure slapstick until the gravity hits, converting this into a poignant and thoughtful fantasy. The cast is just perfect with Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie showing off their potential as the young heroes while Scarlett Johansson (Oscar-nominated here), Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson and Taika Waititi himself as Hitler, round out the amazing cast. And while it may look like it makes light of a horrifying subject, at its very heart it is a sober, thought-provoking story worthy of its many accolades. A

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Rated PG for some strong thematic material, a brief fight, and some mild language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
Available on Disc and Streaming

When Tom Hanks signed on to make a film about Mr. Rogers, there was a palpable feeling of anticipation felt throughout the country. And while he really is simply amazing in the role, many were like me in that they wished this had been a biopic instead of a story about Mr. Rogers getting involved in a journalist’s life. But that’s the story this time out. Matthew Rhys plays the lead role as a cynical man with family issues who is sent to interview Fred Rogers for Esquire Magazine. The movie takes place like an episode of Mr. Rogers where our hero’s focus is on the troubled man. And it does work. It’s a lovely tale that is hard not to love. That being said, I wanted more Mr. Rogers and less of what I got, leaving me in a happy state but yet somewhat unfulfilled by the end of the movie. B+

Rated PG-13 for sequences of war violence and related images, language and smoking
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 42%
Available on Disc and Streaming

The Battle of Midway was an important and pivotal battle against the Japanese during WWII and it is very deserving of a big epic motion picture. But just as in the case of the 1976 Charlton Heston bomb by the same name, this film is a mess with a great cast and a bad script, with a director in over his head. Here, Independence Day director Roland Emmerich takes a lame and derivative war script, full of some of the worst dialog in ages, and throws in as much CG as they can possibly fit in, hoping you won’t know the difference. But you can see it in the casts’ eyes when they say their lines, that this film is an awful attempt to tell a story that needs to be told much better. My favorite is Woody Harrelson, who while playing Texas hero Admiral Nimitz, phones in his role looking like there is just enough pot to get him through the shoot. Ultimately we get one of the worst war films since Michael Bay took on Pearl Harbor almost 20 years ago. C-

Scandalous: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer
Not Rated, but would be an R
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Certainly one of the most interesting films of the week is this documentary that explores the history of America’s most infamous tabloid and how it eventually gave way to Donald Trump’s success in winning the White House. It truly helps you understand how when the man yells out fake news – it comes from expertise in the subject. It is a fascinating look at a group of “journalists” and businessmen figuring out how to make money with made up news and then make more money by gaining exclusives and burying the stories. It might make you a bit embarrassed to be an American at times, but it is who we are, whether we like it or not. And the ironic thing about this documentary is that the filmmakers work diligently to show the hard truth behind the fiction. A-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of February 10, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of February 10, 2020

Ford v Ferrari
Rated PG-13 for some language and peril
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Available on Disc and Streaming

One of the most underrated films of 2019, and winner of two Academy Awards, is this film based on the true story from the 60’s where the Ford racing team, lead by legendary car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and race car driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) went head to head against Enzo Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966. As far as racing movies go – it’s one of the best ever made with an equal amount of both great storytelling and action. And in 152 minutes, it zips by due to the masterful filmmaking of James Mangold (Logan) and his talented production team. As someone who cares little about these kinds of films, it made me want to care in ways I didn’t expect. A-

First Love
Rated NR – but would be R if rated
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Available on Disc and Streaming
In Japanese with English Subtitles

From prolific Japanese director Takashi Miike comes this peculiar, off-balance crime thriller about a talented and serious young boxer who, after a diagnosis of inoperable brain cancer, falls in love with a prostitute and gets swept up in a crazy drug-smuggling scheme over the course of one night in Tokyo. Just like this week’s Oscar-winning Korean filmmaker Boon Jong Ho, Miike has a unique style of story-telling that might seem unusual to American audiences, but is none-the-less entertaining. This film is a bit violent and scatter-brained, but I also found it to be hilarious and memorable. Sure the story is somewhat hard to follow, but it’s worth the attempt for sure. B+

White Snake
Rated NR – but would be PG-13 if rated
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%
Available on Disc and Streaming

From GKIDS comes this animation import from China about a young snake catcher from a small village who discovers a beautiful and mysterious young woman who has lost her memory. Together they go on a frightening journey to save the world from an evil power. Culturally, the film apparently has more meaning in its native China, but there is much to take in and appreciate here. The story itself is fairly hard to follow but no worse than what you’d find from Miyazaki. But what interested me the most was the spectacular animation. This is truly a beautiful film to look at and listen to, with a score that feels inspired by Tan Dun’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It’s a little rough for the youngsters with more violence than you’d expect as well as an abbreviated sex scene that is rare for animation. So pre-teens and teens, and especially adults, are the target audience. B-

Shutter Island: 10th Anniversary 4K SteelBook Limited Edition
Rated R for disturbing violent content, language and some nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Back in 2010, Martin Scorsese knocked it out of the park with this psychological thriller about a detective (Leonardo DiCaprio) who travels to a remote mental hospital to investigate the disappearance of woman who was admitted after murdering her three children. I am fully convinced that the only reason this film didn’t succeed to a much larger degree was that most folks only saw it once. Once just doesn’t do it. The story is good the first time around, but it just isn’t great. But watch it a second time, in close proximity to the first, and the film takes on a completely different personality and tone. It’s not even remotely the same film the second time you watch it. To me, that made the film truly special, and one of the most under-appreciated films in recent history. This complexity is mind-boggling at the very least and genius at its very base. With all of his accolades and notoriety for his body of work, this remains my favorite Scorsese movie to date and still one of my favorite films of all time. A+

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of February 3, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of February 3, 2020

Doctor Sleep
Rated R for disturbing and violence content, some bloody images, language, nudity and drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Stephen King’s followup to The Shining takes place decades later as young Danny (Ewan McGregor) is now an adult who discovers a young girl with his same gifts who is being hunted by a group of supernatural gypsies who want to feed off her “shine.” As a big fan of the book, the original movie, and even all of the controversy over the making of the original movie, I found this to be a fascinating project all over. First off, this is a well-made horror film with terrific performances by McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson who plays the perfect combination of sexy and scary as the main villain. The transition from the book was well-executed as it hits all the main notes with a smoothly flowing narrative that doesn’t seem to be skipping out on huge chunks, like we’ve seen with many other King adaptations. I’m not sure if the film would be super accessible for folks who haven’t seen The Shining, but if that’s you – you need to stop what you’re doing and watch it. For shame. And then watch this. For everyone else, this frightener is a welcome surprise worth visiting. A-

Rated R for language throughout, drug and alcohol use, some sexual content and brief violence-all involving teens
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Back in 2016, Austin-native Trey Edwards Shults made a little indie called Krisha with his family that won big at SXSW, and now with the much larger budgeted Waves, he has gotten national attention again during this awards season. The story follows a family in South Florida going through turmoil when bad decisions lead to horrific consequences. The narrative is unsettling as it comes off as two completely different films, one occurring after the other, and both only loosely connected by family bonds. But the performances are exceptional, especially that of Sterling K. Brown as the domineering but caring father trying to hold it all together. His performance alone makes the film worth watching. And while the end result is a strangely crafted film, it leaves no doubt that Shults is a talented young filmmaker with a big future. B-

Last Christmas
Rated PG-13 for language and sexual content
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 47%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Emilia Clarke, aka The Mother of Dragons, plays a young wannabe West End actress who lives at various friends’ homes throughout London while working in a Christmas store, constantly dressed as an elf. But things change in her life when she runs into a charming young man, played by Crazy Rich Asians hunk Henry Golding. Director Paul Feig has been incredibly successful of late with smart female-driven comedies such as Spy, The Heat and Bridesmaids. But this one isn’t as clever as it thinks it is and comes off as rather cheesy until the gravity pull in the third act. Also, it’s affinity to George Michael is just strange and distracting, rather than the tribute I’m sure it was trying to be. I love me some George Michael – more than any straight man I know – but the way his songs are presented here make the movie seem more like a weird little juke box musical than a meaningful romantic comedy tearjerker, which it obviously had potential to be. C

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of January 27, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of January 27, 2020

Rated R for language, some violence and sexual content
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Perhaps the biggest surprise of this awards season is the extreme popularity of Bong Joon Ho’s latest drama, Parasite. The story follows a poor but street-smart family in South Korea who manage to place themselves, one by one, as servants of a wealthy family not paying attention. But just as they are starting to enjoy their new lifestyles, an ousted employee unveils secrets that are bound to cause extreme complications. Since 2007’s The Host, I have been a huge fan of Bong Joon Ho. His tales are always unique, weird, engaging and unforgettable. This one is no different. And while it’s not my favorite of his growing resume, I am certainly glad he’s getting the attention he deserves. What really works here is the creativity of the storytelling and the eclectic production design. It also helps to have a fantastic cast who can pull off such a tale. Strangely enough, I thought the plotting was a bit contrived and way too convenient. But if you just follow him down the rabbit hole, you’ll have a great time watching what could surprise everyone come Oscar night. A-

Terminator: Dark Fate
Rated R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 70%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This new chapter in the Terminator franchise takes place after T2, as if the other subsequent chapters didn’t even exist. Here, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), after the death of her son, commits her life to being a terminator hunter. When she meets a young woman getting her own special future protection, she decides to help the girl survive long enough for her to reach her potential. Quite honestly, this should have been a decent hit, rather than the disappointing flop it ended up becoming. James Cameron was back as producer. Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger were back in their iconic roles. And to round it off, Tim Miller (Deadpool) sat in the director’s chair with David Goyer (Batman Begins) as writer. It even had decent reviews. It’s a ginormous production with huge and impressive set pieces and even better special effects. My biggest problem with it was that the third act was a bit of a contrived mess, where everything happens just a bit too easy. But still, this is a big summer movie (which came out in November) and is worth a watch now at home. B

Rated PG-13 for thematic content throughout, violent material and language including racial epithets
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Harriet stars Broadway star Cynthia Erivo as the American hero Harriet Tubman, a runaway slave who in turn fights to help hundreds of slaves escape the South to freedom in the North. Though we’ve learned about Tubman in school, I’ve been dying to see her come to bigger than life in a huge Hollywood movie. Unfortunately, this time out wasn’t that dream film we were clamoring for. Cynthia Erivo is most definitely the perfect actress for the part, but the screenplay here is just too simplistic to deliver the goods. Kasi Lemmons is a really great director and writer, but the narrative was unsuccessful when it comes to presenting such a legendary tale. Perhaps it was too ambitious and needed more of an HBO mini-series approach, but most likely this needed a different set of filmmakers whose skillsets could have made this story shine like it deserved. Here you’ll get a small taste of what made Tubman great, but unfortunately we’ll have to wait for a better project to come around in order to really be hit hard by her history. This is definitely not the biopic this legendary American deserves. C

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of January 20, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of January 20, 2020

Gemini Man
Rated PG-13 for violence and action throughout, and brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 26%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Megastar Will Smith and Oscar-winning director Ang Lee (Life of Pi) team up here in this special effects extravaganza about an elite assassin who is targeted by a young, perfect clone of himself. And with a remarkable leap forward in technology, both parts are played by Will Smith. The film is truly impressive-looking, much more so than what we saw in the aging effects used in The Irishman recently. But the story here just doesn’t deliver. The relationship between villain Clive Owen and young Will Smith doesn’t gel and the third act is simply ridiculous. When Ang Lee has a solid script, he can work wonders, but when the screenplay suffers, as this one does, the end result is disastrous. So this might be one where you just watch the trailer to appreciate the cosmetics and call yourself lucky you didn’t waste your time with the rest. C-

Zombieland: Double Tap
Rated R for bloody violence, language throughout, some drug and sexual content
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Set after the events of the fantastic 2009 zom-com Zombieland, the gang is back and still trying to survive in a zombie-filled world where the walking dead have evolved in crazy and scary ways. As is expected, the film is fun and fairly exciting, but lacks the originality many of us were hoping for. I dug the new zombie subtypes and the pacing is as fast as the script is witty – but by the end I was hoping for just a little more than the end product. B-

The Addams Family
Rated PG for macabre and suggestive humor, and some action
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 44%
Available on Disc and Streaming

From the 60’s television comedy to the 90’s theatrical releases, The Addams Family was known to provide a curiously weird and darkly funny entertainment experience. But with this new animated version, the family has now hit a new low. The narrative follows a home improvement celebrity who wants to do something about the Addam’s home, which she considers an eyesore, and the family must passively thwart her efforts. And if you think that description doesn’t make much sense – neither does the story which never becomes even moderately funny or clever. Even my nine-year-old found the movie to be a bore without a single laugh of enjoyment. It’s so unusual that a cast including the talents of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz and Allison Janney would have found this a worthy script to take on, and even more strange that a studio could have pumped so much money into it. But the end result is a dud that will leave both you and your kids cringing. F

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of January 6, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of January 6, 2020

The Lighthouse
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, violence, disturbing images, and some language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Available on Disc and Streaming

From Robert Eggers, the writer/director of 2016’s wildly disturbing horror pic The Witch, comes this very different, but still disturbing tale about two lighthouse keepers (Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe) on a remote island in New England in the late 1800s. While not nearly as frightening as it is sold, it makes up for that in pure oddity. Artistically, the film is in a beautiful and hypnotic black and white that doesn’t get in the way of the storytelling but rather enhances the ambience the director was going for. And since it is essentially a two-man show, it’s nice to have such talented actors in the mix. Willem Dafoe is especially great as the veteran old lighthouse master. Unfortunately, the film takes on such a strange personality that you feel like you are witnessing something from a Ripley’s museum rather than a narrative feature. For shear creativity and its unique vibe, I have to say this is a weird tale worth watching but be prepared that what you will experience is anything but ordinary. B

Rated R for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Certainly the most polarizing film of the year, Joker has managed to make a lot of people angry while at the same time exciting audiences enough to become the highest-grossing R rated film ever. I’m solidly in the first camp. The story follows the genesis of the infamous DC villain as he struggles with mental illness and discovers his life’s purpose in creating chaos. It brushes up with Batman but never solidly enters his universe. I have to fully admit that it is a well-made film with a tremendous performance by Joaquin Phoenix. But the material is sick and depraved, and in my opinion, potentially dangerous. I felt ill while watching it, and at the same time extremely paranoid at every little movement seen out of the corner of my eye in the theater. Watching at home will make you feel safer, but I just can’t help but fear that this movie will serve as inspiration, rather than entertainment, for a small section of its audience. I just don’t think there’s any place for a movie like this in today’s world. F