Popcorn Perspectives – Week of June 18, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of June 18, 2018

The Death of Stalin
Rated R for language throughout, violence and some sexual references
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Available on disc and streaming
From Armando Iannucci, the creator of HBO’s Veep comes this dark comedy about the last days of Joseph Stalin and the aftermath that followed his passing. Steve Buscemi, Jeffrey Tambor, Michael Palin and Jason Isaacs head up this amazingly talented cast of actors who drop the Russian accents and instead play themselves as the men desperately trying to take control of the country by any means necessary. Like Veep, the dialog is razor sharp and quick and if you didn’t know it was a comedy going into it, it might escape you that you are supposed to laugh. I loved the absolute dryness of the script and the amazing deliveries of the cast. It’s not a film for everyone, but for history buffs with a warped sense of humor, it will serve as a wicked and enjoyable satire. A-

Paul, Apostle of Christ
Rated PG-13 for some violent content and disturbing images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 46%
Available on disc and streaming
This lushly produced biblical epic follows the latter days of the Apostle Paul (James Faulkner) as he works with the physician Luke (Jim Caviezel) to put his story into writing while waiting for his execution. I certainly applaud the chance the filmmakers took with this unique story-telling method and its desire to concentrate on a short part of Paul’s life rather than focus on the immense life’s journey which would take much longer than two hours to tell well. And while Caviezel and Faulkner turn in some strong performances, much of the supporting cast and the convoluted timelines make for only a slightly better than average Christian film. While it is certainly leaps above the made-for-television movies which we have previously seen, it can’t compare to Passion of the Christ or even the recent Risen in terms of overall quality. And while I really wanted to love it, I found myself too judgmental about too many little things. B-

Unsane
Rated R for disturbing behavior, violence, language, and sex references
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%
Available on disc and streaming
From director Steven Soderbergh comes this low budget indie about a depressed woman (Claire Foy) who accidentally commits herself after admitting to a counselor that she on occasion has suicidal thoughts. While locked up, things take a dark turn as the more she fights the deeper into the hole she falls. This is an interesting psychological drama that takes a dark and unexpected turn, giving the film an almost horror-like dimension. While it won’t blow your mind, it turns out to be quite a unique little picture with a subtle message about the state of our current medical system. B-

Pacific Rim Uprising
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action and some language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 43%
Available on disc and streaming
This follow-up to the Guillermo del Toro monster film takes places years later as mankind once again fight giant inter-dimensional giant creatures by manning giant protector robots. While I loved the first film, this newest edition is just a hollow shell of a story, attempting to commit to a lower budget in the hopes of getting the same modest returns. John Boyega does an admirable job in the leading role, but the story is a mess and the plot with Charlie Day is as stupid as I’ve ever seen in a movie. The whole thing feels like a lame and unsuccessful attempt at a money grab. C-

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of June 11, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives by Danny Minton

Week of June 11, 2018

Incredibles 2
Rated PG for action sequences and some brief mild language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97% (at time of writing)
In theaters
Fourteen years have passed in our world since Pixar’s Incredibles blew us away the first time. But the Parr family, consisting of mom and dad Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl along with their kids Dash, Violet and Jack Jack, they pick up in the very second they left us, and unfortunately they cause more damage trying to stop The Underminer than if they had just left him alone. So now the worlds’ governments hate them more than ever. But thanks to an enterprising billionaire with great faith in their abilities and a talent for marketing, an attempt is made to try to put superheroes back on the street the right way – lady’s first – with Elastigirl leading the way. And of course things go great until a super villain pops up with the potential power to take all of the remaining heroes down. I went into this one with high hopes but no real expectations of comparing to the first film. I left having those expectations smashed. Pixar here does a perfect job of juggling story, thrills and laughs in a way that keeps you majorly engaged and entertained for two straight hours. The big reveal in the third act isn’t altogether that surprising, but it is easily overlooked as it ignites a non-stop action sequence which doesn’t allow you to think too much about that singular flaw. It is truly a film that everyone watching should enjoy, regardless of age or gender. And just like it happened in 2004, you should leave the theater having been absolutely blown away. A

I Can Only Imagine
Rated PG for thematic elements including some violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%
Available on disc and streaming
Faith-based films, while a very popular genre, are generally known for lower production values and poorer acting – but there are exceptions and this latest which tells the story behind the most popular Contemporary Christian song of all time is one of them. Set in Greenville, TX, the film follows Christian band Mercy Me frontman Bart Millard and the life experiences which led him to write the ginormous hit song. While the strong lead actor, J. Michael Finley, has been only known to Broadway in shows such as Les Miserables and Book of Mormon, the production landed Dennis Quaid in the pivotal role of Millard’s father and even Cloris Leachman and Trace Adkins to give the film a strong boost. And while there are some contrived, cheesy and manipulative moments, the film gives off real power and inspiration throughout rather than the forced preaching to the choir this genre is mostly known for. B+

Tomb Raider
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and for some language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 49%
Available on disc and streaming
Even though the original Tomb Raiders weren’t exactly well-thought of, a reboot was inevitable I suppose. Filling the gigantic shoes left by Angelina Jolie is the young and beautiful Oscar-winning Swedish actress Alicia Vikander who goes on a secret mission to rescue her long-missing father. The fault of this disastrous outing is not hers (she obviously puts her all into it) but rather the plain ridiculousness of the entire project. The premise is nothing but silly and the execution of that premise leads to this unapologetically preposterous adventure which does nothing but waste two hours of your time. If you want to see this film for the same reason you saw the first two – to watch a total hottie wander around remote locales for hours solving puzzles amid almost certain death, then be my guest. If you are hoping the treasure map leads to a good movie – you are out of luck. D+

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of June 4, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of June 4, 2018

Hereditary
Rated R for horror violence, disturbing images, language, drug use and brief graphic nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93% (at time of writing)
In theaters
The buzz on this newest horror flick from A24 is humongous. People are touting it as the scariest film they’ve ever seen – or at least the scariest film in recent memory. I was quite impressed at the very arrogance of the marketing when they solicited audience members to commit to post heart rate results from their Apple Watches after the movie. They want you to know that this film will literally scare you to death. The story revolves around a young girl and her mother (or at least the trailers want you to think so and I don’t want to give too much away). The mother (Toni Collette) has just lost her mother and the family is coping with her death in their own ways. But when an incredible tragedy occurs, the mother gets advice from a new friend (Ann Dowd) which somehow brings about a new and unforeseen evil into their lives. Unfortunately for me, my heart rate never really elevated, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it – it only means that I didn’t find it overly scary. Don’t get me wrong – there are some great surprises and some decent jumps – but I really found the story to be more dramatically powerful and intellectually stimulating than biting-my-nails off frightening. It reminded me of 1968’s ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. The script was really well-written and the direction, production and acting were all absolutely first-rate. I think that on future viewings the film might grow on me, but I wish I wasn’t expecting a horror phenomenon as it really did have an effect my overall enjoyment. B

A Wrinkle in Time
Rated PG for thematic elements and some peril
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 39%
Available on disc and streaming
Yet another pic with a ton of buzz is this Disney version of the 1962 fantasy novel by Madeleine L’Engle which follows a young girl who goes on an existential search for her missing father with the help of three goddesses who want to set things right. With a stellar cast including Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Zach Galifianakis and Chris Pine, as well as a red-hot director Ava DuVernay, the project felt at first like a potentially gigantic hit. But unfortunately the movie never makes it off the ground as the screenplay confuses more than it excites and the dreamlike nature of the story excels at putting the audience to sleep. It wants to be ‘What Dreams May Come’ but just can’t get there. C

Gringo
Rated R for language throughout, violence and sexual content
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 39%
Available on disc and steaming
And speaking of tons of smoke but no fire, Gringo throws David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried, Thandie Newton and Sharlto Copley at the screen with a story that is hard to connect with and characters you can’t care about. The plot surrounds a low-profile businessman who gets a whiff of the despicable plans his boss has in store for their company and subsequently pretends to be kidnapped by a Mexican cartel in order to help salvage his own pathetic life. While there are some good performances and even some nice surprises, at the end the story leaves you so empty that you have to admit to yourself that the film wasn’t worth the time or interest invested in it. C

South Park: Season 21
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%
Available on disc and streaming
Coming off the brilliant season 20, South Park here continues to try to remain relevant as President Garrison (a fun mockery of Trump) commits to many off-color shenanigans while Cartman attempts to shame and belittle his newfound love in order to come off as more powerful to his friends. Unable to put together a season that feels conjoined in a perverse but wonderful way, this season plays out better on an individual basis but misses out the bigger-picture feel that I was actually craving after the last several seasons. I laughed a lot, but the I didn’t find it nearly as enjoyable as I had hoped given the dozens of episodes leading up to this series. B-

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of May 28

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of May 28, 2018

Annihilation
Rated R for violence, bloody images, language and some sexuality
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
Available on disc and streaming
This very risky Rated R sci-fi project stars Natalie Portman as a scientist who joins a military mission into a giant alien bubble that has appeared on Earth in order to both discover its contents as well as possibly find her missing husband (Oscar Isaac). Written and directed by Ex Machina auteur Alex Garland, the film is equally as trippy and fantastic as his freshman outing. It’s a beautiful nightmare of a film that will have you both in awe and biting your fingernails with every step forward. It’s a bit weird for some audiences but many will find it refreshingly horrifying. B

Early Man
Rated PG for rude humor and some action
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%
Available on disc and streaming
While theaters are noticeably vacant of good family films, this great little Aardman stop-motion animation pic will at least give you something great to watch at home. Here a group of neanderthals are stripped of their homeland only to find themselves in a soccer match with a more civilized group of humans in order to hopefully win it back. It is a charming, clever and frequently funny adventure that should get you by until some decent family fare hits the big screen again. B+

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of May 21, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of May 21, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence
In Theaters
Disney has made it a mission to both expand the Star Wars universe and fill in the gaps with a full slate of new movies and adventures. Part of the gap-filling is this new tale which essentially gives Han Solo an origin story. Here a young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) meets his future life-partner Chewbacca and sets off on a mission with fellow hooligan Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) to steal precious cargo worth a fortune for them if they get away with it. This is probably easy to predict, but this movie is exactly what you think it will be. And that’s not a bad thing. There was some concern when the original directors were fired and replaced with Ron Howard, but as one with a lot of faith in Ron Howard, my confidence in his ability proved valid. The film is a fast, light-hearted joyride with all of the great moments you knew would have to be there such as the Kesell Run and a memorable meet-cute between Chewy and Han. Ehrenreich does a completely competent job as Han but stealing the show is certainly Glover whose career is as hot as it gets right now. Overall this is a highly enjoyable addition to the Star Wars franchise, destined to be a hit and possibly even its own franchise starter. B+

Game Night
Rated R for language, sexual references and some violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
Available on Disc and Streaming
While this critical hit turned out to be a bomb at the box-office, it hopes to gain a little more attention for home viewing. In this adult comedy, Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams are a young couple who love to host a frequent game night with their friends. But when his brother (Kyle Chandler) shows up trying to one-up their game night, things take a serious (yet still comedic) turn as truths start to materialize. While most of the twists and turns don’t make a lot of sense as you put thought into them, the writing and acting is strong enough to push you through and the crazy night ends up being fun to watch even in spite of the obvious plot problems. B-

Red Sparrow
Rated R for strong violence, torture, sexual content, language and some graphic nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 47%
Jennifer Lawrence has been picking some fairly unconventional projects lately such as Mother! and Passengers, and continuing that trend comes this film about an injured Russian ballerina who is forced into the life of a sex spy. The overlong film is a chore to get through as it is mostly boring, with a pervasive rapey vibe and loaded with torture. Sure the acting is decent but the film is as far from a sexy thriller as you can get. The whole thing is a lushly produced nauseating experience. C-

The Other Side of Hope: The Criterion Collection
Not Rated
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
In Finnish, English and Arabic
Available on Disc and Streaming
Finnish writer/director Aki Kurismäki takes on the refugee crisis as he tells this tale about a businessman who befriends and attempts to help a Syrian refugee who lands in Helsinki as a stowaway. Kaurismäki’s work is certainly not for everyone and this is no exception. While frequently funny and ridiculous, the director’s deadpan style makes the actors seem rigid and mundane, stealing away from the terrific story which gives life and empathy to the Syrian refugee crisis. I really wanted to like the movie, but its style is just too off-putting. C+

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of May 14, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives by Danny Minton

Week of May 14, 2018

Deadpool 2
Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual references and brief drug material
In Theaters
The foul-mouthed comic vigilante superhero Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson, aka actor Ryan Reynolds, is back in this much-anticipated sequel directed this time by John Wick director David Leitch. When the first film was made it was a risky venture to release an R-rated raunchy super hero flick. But as Deadpool points out early the film, the risk paid off and Deadpool was a smash box office hit. This new adventure is much less of a labor of love and much more like a bunch of friends having fun, full of confidence that their project will succeed. The story begins with our red dead super hero taking apart crime syndicates around the world, only to find himself determined to protect a young mutant who is being hunted by a hitman from the future named Cable (Josh Brolin). Just as in the first film, the humor is rampant and the violence is constant. But if you are used to it, it shouldn’t be offensive to most audience members. That’s not to say the material isn’t offensive. It is certainly not a film for everybody and most definitely not for kids unless you want them to get in trouble on their last days of school for repeating many of the new things they’ll learn. But for desensitized late teens and adults, it’s a wildly entertaining action pic that will make you laugh yourself silly. B+

Black Panther
Rated PG-13 for prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief rude gesture
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Available on Disc and Streaming
Marvel’s mega-hit about an African king/superhero gets its home entertainment release this week, where it will no doubt grow it’s already legendary profitability. The nice thing about this box office champ is it has earned its stripes. Telling the origin story of King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and how he enters the world stage while protecting his own people in Wakanda, the film lets us know all we need to know while at the same time helping us see him in his place in the larger Marvel universe. It is a solid production on all levels. Written and directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed) and with an amazing cast of talented actors, the film excites and thrills with tight pacing and a sense of awe. Black Panther is more than just an addition to the Marvel Universe – it is a reinvention if it. A-

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of April 30, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives by Danny Minton

Week of April 30, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, language and some crude references
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%
In Theaters
This much-anticipated franchise addition to the Avengers universe basically adds almost every character we’ve seen so far (minus a couple of ones no-one will miss like Hawkeye and Ant-man), in an ultimate battle against Thanos, an Alien invader who wishes to collect the full set of Infinity Stones in order to decimate half of the universe. If you don’t follow the plot, don’t worry, it’s a silly copycat of Lord of the Rings that Marvel has been pushing out for years. Chances are, most of the folks reading this review have already seen the movie. But if you haven’t, I’ll try not to give away any major spoilers that will upset you, although I bet your friends have already given everything away. What I can safely say is that the film is extremely funny and full of non-stop action. While there are plot turns that have the potential to make you mad, I can also declare that you will get your money’s worth here. I will also say that these plot turns are easy to see through and fairly easy to predict if you are familiar at all with their films past and what they have coming out in the future. While I don’t think the movie is worth repeat viewings, it is a solid piece of entertainment and a great addition to the series. It shows the progression of an impressive vision from producer Kevin Feige and Disney, and should thrill pretty much anyone who buys a ticket. Are there some major problems? Sure there are. I saw several opportunities for the story to just end and be set right. But these issues are easy enough to ignore as long as you are forgiving to the fact that Disney still has billions of dollars to earn off its audiences. B+

Hostiles
Rated R for strong violence, and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%
Available on Disc and Streaming
Christian Bale plays a decorated Army Captain who is tasked with escorting a dying Cheyenne war chief and his family back to their tribal lands, only to discover a woman (Rosamund Pike) who is the lone survivor from her family after a brutal Comanche attack. I have to admit that this film is really growing on me. The production is quite amazing with breathtaking cinematography by Masanobu Takayanagi (Warrior) and a haunting score by Max Richter (The Leftovers). But most impressive is the directing and script by Scott Cooper, with a story both disturbing and relevant. Emotionally, it is a tough one to watch for sure, but worth putting in the time. A-

12 Strong
Rated R for war violence and language throughout
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 54%
Available on Disc and Streaming
Based on the recently declassified true story about a group of soldiers sent in for a first strike on the Taliban after 9/11, Thor and General Zod (Chris Hemsworth and Michael Shannon) lead a small group of men who must learn to ride horses in order to navigate the treacherous terrain and confront the enemy. The story itself is interesting but the way it is told here is a let down. It is overlong and underwhelming, with great actors badly phoning in their parts. C

Mary and the Witch’s Flower
Rated PG for some action and thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%
Available on Disc and Streaming
Written and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi (former key animator at Studio Ghibli) Mary and the Witch’s Flower is a hand-drawn animated fantasy which follows a young girl who discovers a hidden world in the clouds where she is enrolled to become a witch in training, only to reveal secrets hidden by those she knows on Earth. The film is rich in both storytelling and artistry with a lush beauty you would expect from one with such a background. Personally, I found it to be the best animated film from Japan not to come from Studio Ghibli, which is still quite a compliment. B+

The Insult
Rated R for language and some violent images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
Available on Disc and Streaming
This Oscar-nominated foreign film from Lebanon tells the story of a Christian and a Muslim, caught up in a battle over a careless insult that is thrown out during a stubborn and unwinnable argument. It is a fascinating look both at a different culture but also at a relevant situation given today’s chaotic political and religious climate at home. It is a bit preachy and a little full of itself in regards to its message and theme, but is still an important and memorable story worth watching. B

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of April 23, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives by Danny Minton

Week of April 23, 2018

Paddington 2
Rated PG for some action and mild rude humor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
Available on Disc and Streaming
Part of the above description should have given you pause. 100% Rotten Tomatoes score? Not one critic out of almost 200 (including me) didn’t recommend it? You read that correctly. This almost perfect family film beat out the first’s almost perfect 98% score in grand fashion. Based on the popular English stuffed animal, Paddington 2 continues the adventures of the lovable bear as he is falsely arrested for stealing a priceless pop-up book, only to find himself and his human family hot on the heels of the despicable real thief, played by the versatile Hugh Grant. Just like the first, the film is cuddly, cute, clever, funny and surprisingly smart. And if you have kiddos, it is one of the most family-friendly films you can enjoy with them without feeling guilty. The whole thing is simply an enjoyable way to send nearly two hours. A-

Den of Thieves
Rated R for violence, language and some sexuality/nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 41%
Available on Disc and Streaming
Gerard Butler plays a flawed and ferocious cop, hell-bent on taking down a ring of criminals determined to be the first to ever rip off a federal reserve bank. The film has a big-time Michael Mann vibe to it, but lacks the substance and talent, even though the attempt is admirable. So while Heat it ain’t, there are some respectable qualities. The premise itself is original and almost works, especially towards the end when the actual crime takes place. But where the film fails is the long, meandering path to get to the climax. It’s a slow burn with little reward or even justification as to why it takes so long to show us the money. Still Gerard Butler is believable as the sort of good guy and Pablo Schreiber is convincing as the street savvy gang leader ready to take on the biggest heist in history. I just wish the film didn’t waste so much of my time getting to the well-executed third act. C+

The Post
Rated PG-13 for language and brief war violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
Available on Disc and Streaming
After watching this film in theaters last December, I felt certain that I had just seen the movie that would win Best Picture. After all, it had two of America’s most-loved actors (Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks), in addition to America’s most-respected director Steven Spielberg telling the most relevant of stories about the Washington Post in the 70s going against all odds to print a story that would eventually bring down a president. But while it brought in a slew of nominations, it didn’t win a thing and eventually fizzled. Still – this is a movie that needs to be seen, even if it will not be seen or appreciated by the audience most in need of its message and theme. It is a tale of caution and courage, meant for far greater ambitions than it was able to achieve. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is a masterful film worthy of America’s attention. A

Grease: 40th Anniversary Edition
Rated PG for adult situations/language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%
Available on Disc and Streaming
Since this film came out when I was six, I was unable to see it in theaters and had to rely on VHS, TV, and eventually DVD for my limited exposure to it. But now remastered in this new 4K edition, the film looks pristine to the point where it’s almost uncomfortable. Since this musical, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John as two teenagers in love, relies more on its iconic nostalgia for its success rather than its art; this new and stunning-looking film might throw you off quite a bit. I’m actually anxious to discuss with fans of the film to see if they prefer this or the dirty, lower resolution version of the pic we are used to seeing. B-

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of April 9, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives by Danny Minton

Week of April 9, 2018

The Greatest Showman

Rated PG for thematic elements including a brawl

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 55%

Another victim/survivor of the crowded Christmas schedule this year was this musical produced by and starring Hugh Jackman as the infamous P.T. Barnum.  But even though it didn’t get much in the way of awards love (I didn’t even get to see it until after nominations were due), it went on to have a moderately successful box office, creating quite a fan base who went to see it again and again.  Well I have to admit that I am right there with them.  After seeing it the first time in early January, I couldn’t wait to go again.  I found the music (written by Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land scribes Benj Pasek and Justin Paul), to be catchy and addictive, with a soundtrack that now has regular play intervals in my car and home, especially when my young son has his choice.  Overall, I found the movie to be an excellent feel-good movie/musical and had I had the chance to see it before I wrote my Top 10 of 2017, it might have been a major player on my list.  A

 

Phantom Thread

Rated R for language

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Nominated for 6 Oscars including Picture, Director, Actor and Supporting Actress, Phantom Thread was quite the last-minute surprise from director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights).  The story follows Daniel Day-Lewis as a high-end fashion designer in the 1960’s and his struggles to constantly improve his craft and his inability stay grounded in both love and life.  For much of the movie, it is possibly the most pretentious, snooty film I have ever seen.  But then the film takes a turn to bring it and its subject back down to Earth in a deeply surprising manner that actually excited my intellect and curbed my almost negative opinion.  I would not recommend this to anyone who isn’t a serious cinema fan, but I can see why the Academy honored it with so many high-power nods, and I look forward to discussing with other viewers once some people have actually seen it.  B

 

Molly’s Game

Rated R for language, drug content and some violence

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%

Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin makes his directorial debut here with this real-life story about an ex-olympic skier (Jessica Chastain), who created an exclusive high-stakes poker game until she became an FBI target.  With Sorkin on the script, the story is well-written and the talented cast keeps the words and action flowing.  Its only downfall is that the story, while interesting, isn’t two hours interesting, making you wish that there was something more worth watching.  It’ll pass the time on a rainy day, but I doubt it will stick with you.  B-

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of April 2, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives by Danny Minton

Week of April 2, 2018

Ready Player One
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence, bloody images, some suggestive material, partial nudity and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%
In Theaters
Based on the best-selling novel by Ernest Cline (and one of my favorite books in recent memory) Ready Player One explores a futuristic world where life in the real world is quite terrible, but people can escape into a virtual reality program called the OASIS, where they can be anyone and do anything. Before its creator died, he left a series of puzzles and easter eggs with the prize of the entire company to the lucky first solver. After five years of no one finding the first clue, a poor young gamer figures it out, sparking the race to see who will soon rule the virtual world.

The world of the OASIS in the book focused solely on 80s pop culture, but here director Steven Spielberg, along with the novelist Ernest Cline, recreate the world to serve modern nerd culture instead. And while the structure of the story stayed mostly the same, the adventures and puzzles are all brand new. This has made some purists angry, but personally, I loved the changes. These differences create a more vibrant and exciting story, well within the spirit of the original text. Also, there are some moments in the book, that while great on the page, had no way of translating to the big screen. Spielberg and team were able to get past these potential pratfalls and the storytelling on display is magnificent.

While 140 minutes long, the movie zips along at a fast pace, literally keeping you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out where they are going next. The journey is invigorating and incredibly fun, while all the while giving you a sense that the heroes are still in a world of danger.

Personally I found this film to be even better than I had hoped – and I was expecting a lot. Once again Spielberg proves his worth as one of my heroes. His vision and ability to pull off a project such as this is truly impressive. This film is pure joy and the epitome of what we hope for when we go to the movies. A

Insidious: The Last Key
Rated PG-13 for disturbing thematic content, violence and terror, and brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 32%
Available on Disc and Streaming
In this fourth Insidious flick, Lin Shaye and her sidekicks return to her childhood home in New Mexico in order to take on a demon which won’t leave her old house alone. The story is again ridiculous but there are a few decent chill-inducing scares here and there. The low box office proves that there aren’t that many fans willing to stick around, but the film still ran a profit, if only a minor one. As long as horror franchise flicks like Insidious are cheap to make and can be assembled in a PG-13 fashion, they’ll keep making them. I just wish they could put some thought and talent into the story so that it wasn’t just a formulaic mess such as this. C-