Popcorn Perspectives – Week of February 5, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of February 5, 2018

Rated R for violence, language, and some sexuality
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 28%
Available on Disc and Streaming
Years ago the Coen Brothers wrote this screenplay about chaos in the burbs during the late 50s. It sat unfilmed for years until George Clooney came along to ask for the project. It very much feels like a Coen Brothers film – but one that is incomplete. The story follows Matt Damon as a husband whose wife (Julianne Moore) succumbs to a tragedy during a home invasion. Her twin sister (also played by Moore) takes over the family duties and all is well again until the insurance investigation. There are some nice moments in the film with some good laughs and the quirkiness you’d expect from such a project. But there’s not enough story and the gaps are filled with shallow subplots like the town’s first black family moving into the neighborhood. Ultimately the whole thing turns out to be a failure for Clooney who saw something in the project that most people couldn’t and still don’t. C

24 Hours to Live
Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, language and some drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38%
Available On Disc and Streaming
This practically straight to DVD release stars Ethan Hawke as an assassin who is killed, only to be brought back to life with only 24 hours to live before he will finally meet his demise. Choosing to right some wrongs, he goes on an uber-violent killing spree until he can find the dirty dog who is ultimately responsible for the mess. I love Ethan Hawke, but this is honestly just a sad waste of his talent. And he acts here like he knows it. The film is completely unoriginal and tedious to get through and leaves you wishing you hadn’t just wasted your time even watching the trailer. D

A Bad Moms Christmas
Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, and some drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 29%
Available on Disc and Streaming
The three talented girls (Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn) that disappointed us the last time around in Bad Moms are at it again with this mostly unfunny comedy about what happens when your mom unexpectedly drops in for the holidays. Hoping to weigh in on the Christmas film cannon, the project proves to be nothing more than a cheesy, stupid, overly-sentimental comedy with little heart and less brain. C-

Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton
Not Rated
Available on Disc and Streaming
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%
From Oscar-nominated documentarian Rory Kennedy (Last Days of Vietnam), comes this high-octane thrill ride of a look at the life of one of the greatest surfers to ever grace pop culture. With tons of great footage of his miscellaneous surfing adventures, and loads of great interviews from those that know him, the doc gives a detailed chronicle of what drives him to push the limits of the sport he helped to put into the mainstream. B+

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of January 29, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of January 29, 2018

Last Flag Flying
Rated R for language throughout including some sexual references
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Writer/director Richard Linklater (A Boy’s Life) brings us this somber but touching comedy about three friends who served together in Vietnam (Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne) who come together to help bury one of their sons who just died in Iraq. While some of the drama seems contrived between the military and the veterans, for the most part the script is well-crafted, as you would expect from a wordsmith such as Linklater. And it sure helps to have a powerhouse ensemble like this to deliver the dialog. That being said, the film is not as powerful as you think it would be and really survives only from the chemistry of the actors and not from the story they are delivering. This definitely falls in the liked it, didn’t love it, category. B-

The Square
Rated R for language, some strong sexual content, and brief violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%
In Swedish and English with English subtitles
Available on DVD
This well-received Swedish import follows a modern art curator (Claes Bang) who finds himself stuck in compromising and uncomfortable situations as he attempts to bring a new and controversial art exhibit into his museum. Living as a wealthy, out of touch high-society sort, he struggles with trying to understand the less fortunate world around him as he jumps from strange adventure to stranger adventure. The result is a quirky and complex comedy that will most likely have you scratching your head at the rather unforgettable and enjoyable foreign film you just took in. A

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of January 22, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of January 22, 2018

Thank You For Your Service
Rated R for strong violent content, language throughout, some sexuality, drug material and brief nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Miles Teller leads a relatively unknown but talented cast in this drama based on a true story about U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq only to struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder as they attempt to integrate back into civilian life. Like other movies of its kind, this one is extremely challenging to keep your eyes on. It is certainly well-acted and there is an air of authenticity abounding that makes the film feel almost too real, which is great for those who want that, but tough for those who aren’t wishing for such reality programming. That being said – it’s an important film about an important subject that serves as a reminder of the very real sacrifices our veterans make and what many go through when they return home from war. B+

The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Rated R for disturbing violent and sexual content, some graphic nudity and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Yorgos Lanthimos, who brought us the very strange movie The Lobster, has teamed up once again with Colin Farrell in this equally wild creation, that upon a little online research, appears to be a remake of an ancient Greek tragedy set in modern times. The tale follows the life of a heart surgeon (Farrell) who introduces his wife (Nicole Kidman) and children to a teenage boy with which he is developing a mentor-like relationship with. But when this boy haunts his family in deplorable ways, he is forced to make decisions with disturbing results. Some will like this movie, just like some liked Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! earlier this year. But most will hate the fact that this film is not on the level and is instead symbolic of a different story that requires behind-the-scenes work to reveal the true intent. Just like The Lobster and Mother!, I couldn’t take my eyes off the film as I couldn’t wait to see where the heck the thing was going. But I am also fully aware that this is not a movie for the masses, in spite of its A-list stars and horror-skewing trailer. C+

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of January 15, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of January 15, 2018

Blade Runner 2049
Rated R for violence, some sexuality, nudity and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
While I’m a huge sci-fi lover, I have never been a big fan of the original 1982 sci-fi classic by director Ridley Scott. But I went in to this sequel, more than three decades after the first, with a very open mind – and I’m glad I did. The story takes place decades later where Ryan Gosling plays an LAPD Blade Runner who unearths a big secret that could change the fate of the entire planet. Just like the original, the plot is a little hard to decipher and understand, especially on first viewing, but there is no doubt to the mastery of the storytelling and vision. Sure you want to uncover the mystery, but more than that you want to take it all in and absorb its dreamlike existence. The special effects and overall production are off the charts here and when you throw in a terrific performance by Gosling and the small but impactful role of Harrison Ford, you get a really mind-blowing experience. A-

Happy Death Day
Rated PG-13 for violence/terror, crude sexual content, language, some drug material and partial nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
In 2014 Tom Cruise bombed (relatively speaking) at the box office when trying to apply the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day plot to science fiction, but this year, Happy Death Day reached a minor level of success by applying the same plot to low-budget horror. Here, a young girl wakes up the same way every day and then reaches her demise when a masked killer takes her out in many horrible ways. So she puts on her detective hat to figure out her killer in order to possibly move forward in time. The plot kind of writes itself, but the script and the cast are good enough to pull it off with a high enough level of entertainment to keep you engaged for 90 minutes. And for much of its teenage audience, it’s probably a very thrilling original story which they will enjoy watching on sleepovers for years to come. B-

Rated R for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Certainly one of the biggest box office surprises of the year was this horrifying recreation of the classic Stephen King novel which follows a group of young friends who are haunted by the scariest clown to ever grace a movie theater. While there is much more story to come, this first chapter was so smart to play it like Stand By Me and Stranger Things rather than go straight by the book. You quickly become engaged in the kids’ lives and find yourself cheering for them rather than just waiting to see their various fates. The production, script, score and acting are all top-notch, deriving a frightening product that will stick to your memory. A-

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of January 8, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives

Week of January 8, 2018

Rated R for strong violence, and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%
In theaters
The very thought of the title Hostiles brings about a feeling of racism and a thought of shame about the way Native Americans were treated when American was first settled. In Scott Cooper’s new western, Christian Bale portrays an Army Captain who, in spite of stubborn resistance, is force to escort a Cheyenne chief (Wes Studi) and his family safely back to their tribal land. Along the way, they come across a young wife and mother (Rosamund Pike) whose entire family was killed by a Comanche war party. Much like many of the more modern western films, this movie paints a brutal picture of the old west, much more so than the classic westerns of yesterday. From the opening moments where you are forced to experience the young mother’s fate, you quickly judge the term “hostile” to be applied towards the attackers on the frontier. But throughout the film, this term is reexamined and reapplied throughout the storytelling. Is hostile referring to white men, the natives, the land or maybe just the very frontier itself as a collective plural? Regardless of the title and theme, the film, while dark and crushing, is also engrossing and thought-provoking. The production is absolutely top-notch with a sometimes ethereal quality, much enhanced by the score by composer Max Richter. Yes its a bleak landscape filled with danger and pitfalls, but it will suck you in and leave you haunted. A-

The Foreigner
Rated R for violence, language and some sexual material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
From Casino Royale director Martin Campbell comes this vigilante film about a Chinese businessman in London (Jackie Chan) who attempts to take on a British government official (Pierce Brosnan) after his daughter, and only remaining family member, is killed in a senseless, politically-motivated terrorist attack. With a director who knows action, and two major action stars, you can be assured that film is high-energy and emotionally-driven. The addition of Jackie Chan does give the film a different edge and at least makes you believe that this was the story all along and that it wasn’t just rearranged when Liam Neeson fell off the casting list. I do wish that more attention was given to Chan’s backstory as it seems to be a major driver that is merely examined as part of the exposition. But most will enjoy the adrenaline-driven revenge flick in spite of the lack of any character-building. B-

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic content, sexuality, violence and some strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
Available on DVD and Blu-ray
Based on an early trial of famed civil rights litigator Thurgood Marshall, long before his appointment to the Supreme Court, the young Marshall, played by Chadwick Boseman, travels to Connecticut to defend a black man charged with sexual assault and attempted murder, only to be forced to work behind a local Jewish attorney (Josh Gad) who is actually allowed to defend the man. While the film isn’t exactly dull, and the movie does possess a talented cast of big actors, it ultimately has a movie-of-the-week feel to it and never reaches to the level of a riveting theatrical courtroom drama. Ultimately, the combination of script and production keep the movie from achieving its potential. C

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of December 18, 2017

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of December 18, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
In Theaters
Picking up immediately after the events of 2015’s The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi finds the resistance on the run from the First Order and Rey trying to convince the hermit Luke Skywalker to either come back with her and save the galaxy, or at least train her. That sets up the story and I simply won’t give up more details than that since almost anything said further will be construed by someone as a “spoiler.” And that’s okay. I didn’t want to know a thing about the film that wasn’t in the trailer either. I very painfully had to miss the early press screening, and thus had to very carefully not listen to my friends and colleagues who had the luxury of attending. What I learned quickly though while watching the movie was that the hype was almost worse than the spoilers. I expected greatness. I expected that I would be putting Star Wars 8 at the top of my Top 10 list next week. I heard so many critics proclaim this new addition as the best Star Wars yet and much praise and worship was lobbed upon writer/director Rian Johnson. And the 93% Rotten Tomatoes score certainly helped that excitement along. I will quickly tell you that I did not hate it. But I likewise didn’t love it. There is much to enjoy here, such as the laugh-out-loud sense of humor, the new heroine Rose Tico and the adorable Porgs which inhabit Luke’s island. There are some great set pieces and beautifully creative action sequences. But I found myself endlessly annoyed at the constant long pauses for dialog and exposition. The film clocked in at 152 minutes and I feel they could have easily cut the thing to under two hours with no loss to the adventure and possibly a far better audience experience. There is plenty of action to be had, but the need to talk about the action and then assume that the other side is waiting for you to do so is ridiculous. I like the plot turns and the revelations – in fact I prefer them to what I predicted I would see – but the presentation was absolutely more boring than it should have been. So for lack of a better pun, my feelings for the Last Jedi are in deed lukewarm. B-

Victoria & Abdul
Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%
On DVD and Blu-ray
This true story from a royal pedigree of filmmakers tells the tale of the relationship that blossoms between the Queen of England, played perfectly here by Judi Dench, and a young Indian clerk who the queen commands to stop being her servant and instead teach her about the country she rules but has never visited. Directed by Oscar-nominated director Stephen Frears (The Queen) and written by Billy Elliot scribe Lee Hall, the film is lush to the hilt with both production and dialog. And like any good presentation of a true story, you have to check the internet after for authentication. While I’m sure there was a surplus of creative license, I found myself truly fascinated by what was absolutely true, and since the studio sent me a copy of the book by Shrabani Basu, I am intrigued enough that it might just become my next read. A-

Rated R for strong violence and pervasive language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
On DVD and Blu-ray
From Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow comes this film based on the true story about the events that occurred at the Algiers Motel in Detroit in 1967 and what made Detroit such a powder-keg waiting to explode in the height of the Civil Rights Movement. With a tremendous young cast including John Boyega (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) and Anthony Mackie (The Avengers), the film manages to create a spirit of anger that never really settles. There is not a doubt that the film feels organic and that the events of that night and those that surrounded it were horrible for those that suffered through it, but the ugliness is almost too much to sit through. The film is custom-designed to make its audience upset, and it delivers on that threat. I’m glad I watched it as sometimes you need to see the evil at work in this world to understand it better. But just know what you are getting into before jumping in because the film will get in your head. B+

Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Rated R for sequences of strong violence, drug content, language throughout and some sexual material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 51%
On DVD and Blu-ray
British fashionistas turned super spies are being targeted by a new super villain set on controlling the world’s drug trade. With most of his colleagues dead, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) heads to America to enlist help from a group of cowboy spies. Just like the first, this is a fast-paced and funny action thriller with no decency filter. But while it is enjoyable at times, it wears you out at others with its nonsensical plot and silly characters. It’s a good enough guilty pleasure, but not nearly the quality of its freshman outing. C+

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of December 11, 2017

Popcorn Perspectives by Danny Minton

Week of December 11, 2017

The Disaster Artist
Rated R for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
In Theaters
In 2003, an unknown filmmaker and actor with seemingly endless financial resources named Tommy Wiseau created a film called “The Room” which has recently garnered a cult following as the worst movie ever made. More than a decade later, James Franco directs and stars in this movie which chronicles the making of that infamously odd film. I’ll admit that I have no desire to see The Room, but watching what could be considered a believable making-of documentary, is a really great experience. Franco is spot on as the eclectic filmmaker of unknown origin and his normal cohort of actors and friends, including his brother Dave Franco, Seth Rogan, Judd Apatow and Zac Efron, bring a credibility to both this film and its creation as you start to see what happens when talent is not a prerequisite for those in charge of the purse strings. But not only is the movie interesting – it is incredibly funny, providing some of the biggest laughs of the year. Overall this film, taken from the unlikeliest of inspirations, ends up being one of the most likable pics of the year. A-

American Assassin
Rated R for strong violence throughout, some torture, language and brief nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 34%
On DVD and Blu-ray
When a young man (Dylan O’Brien) loses the love of his life during a terrorist attack on a foreign beach, he trains himself to be a viable candidate for that same terrorist organization in order to infiltrate and destroy it. This brings him to the attention of the CIA which recruits him and sends him to one of their veterans (Michael Keaton) in order to complete his training and turn him into an even deadlier killing machine. The production is adequate but the script is laughable as it meanders through its weak plot points. And to make matters worse, an actor like Keaton can phone it in okay, but some of the other actors deliver their lines like it is their first independent movie. There probably is some potential here, but it ends up a silly and forgettable gun film with far more testosterone than brains. C-

Game of Thrones: The Complete Seventh Season
Rated MA
On DVD and Blu-ray
This short but powerful season of HBO’s mega hit gave fans exactly what they wanted as the many kingdoms prepare for their final showdown in season eight. Now that the show has had to go where the book has yet to take them (HBO couldn’t wait for George R.R. Martins final novel in the series), the creators went a little more predictable than I would have thought to be Martin’s direction for the series, but it all turned out well and good with some wonderful movement into very troubling waters. Honestly, I’m just blown away by the vision on display here and can’t wait to see how they close things out. That being said, I had best be patient as the last season is apparently a long time off in the distance. A

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of November 27, 2017

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of November 27, 2017

Rated PG for thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
In Theaters
For those of you who have it in your heads that Pixar is just trying to copycat the 2014 animated flick “The Book of Life” – well think again. Pixar has had its moments of retreads and spotty creativity lately, but they have completely resurrected themselves with this new adventure. Set in a small but charming Mexican town, a young boy named Miguel dreams of becoming a musician like his idol from the movies. But his grandmother will hear nothing of it, believing that music was what ruined her life and the lives of her family. But through a series of strange events, Miguel finds himself in the land of the dead, determined to learn his history and gain his grandfather’s blessing. Let me tell you, this film just works on every level. It’s Pixar, so its expected to have top-notch, eye-popping animation, and it most certainly does, but it also has a visionary tapestry of art and production behind it. It becomes quickly apparent that the spectacular animation is there for one purpose: to serve the story. The writing on display is smart, clever and thoughtful. Then you have the stellar voice talent by an almost entirely Latino cast (they had to add John Ratzenberger of course) and a score from the always fantastic Michael Giacchino. There’s so much more to complement but I am running out of adjectives, and besides – I’m sure you get the point. This is a family flick not to be missed. A

Logan Lucky
Rated PG-13 for language and some crude comments
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
On DVD and Blu-ray
In this wacky Steven Soderbergh heist film, Channing Tatum and Adam Driver are the Logan brothers, two down and out war vets with a mountain of bad luck who pull together a group of redneck bandits, including Daniel Craig, to rip off a big NASCAR event. The film itself is decent enough, but the antics work better than the heist, which I found to be a bit tedious. And while the film tries hard to be Raising Arizona, the story struggles under its ambition. But the film is not nearly as bad as its horrible, horrible title, which I single-handedly blame for its box office demise. Overall I just felt this could have and should have been better than the end result. C+

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of November 20, 2017

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of November 20, 2017

Justice League
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 40%
In Theaters
When Batman v Superman came out in 2016, moviegoers and fanboys alike dissed the outing for many good reasons: it was too long, too dark, too stupid and lacked both a soul and a sense of humor. So Warner Brothers and director Zach Snyder went back to the drawing board to try to fix these things for the impeding sequel – Justice League. So what do the fanboys (and fangirls to be fair) do again? The same thing: complain – but this time about other minutiae. The problem here is that they did an admirable job fixing all of the above problems. Justice League brings together Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and Cyborg for a big battle against a world-ending evil. Yes the plot is way too similar to what is going on with the Avengers right now, probably because Avengers writer/director Joss Whedon wrote the script, but it is also lighter, full of humor, less than two hours has a lot more soul – and personality for that matter. Is it the best super hero film of the year? Not hardly – but its hard to compete against Thor and Wonder Woman in that category. What it is though is a solid entry for the League and I believe firmly that there is a piling on by critics merely because they think they are supposed to hate it when others do it. Sure it won’t blow your mind, but it is a better film that it is getting credit for and a fun way to spend two hours for sure. For that I have to recommend it. B

The Hitman’s Bodyguard
Rated R for strong violence and language throughout
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 39%
On DVD and Blu-ray
Ryan Reynolds is a professional bodyguard whose career has seen better days. When his ex-girlfriend needs help getting an important witness/hitman to testify against an Eastern European war criminal, she asks Reynolds to bodyguard said witness, Samuel L Jackson, even though they are violent enemies. The film has a decent enough story and a good sense of humor, but goes way overboard on the action and plot points. Although just less than two hours, this would have made a better 90 minute film with a faster pace and without so many action scenes that just lose you because you get bored when they fill in the lack of depth with chases and fights. Still, if you like Reynolds and Jackson, and I certainly do, you can find a way to have fun with such a movie. B-

Brigsby Bear
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, brief sexuality, drug material and teen partying
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%
On DVD and Blu-ray
For his film writing and acting debut, SNL cast member Kyle Mooney stars as a young man whose world revolves around a TV show his mom and dad have been making for him for his entire life. But when a brutal reality sets in, he attempts to cope with his past and present by recreating the show for his new world. Upon seeing the trailer, I thought the film would just be quirky for quirky sake. But low and behold – the film isn’t that at all. Instead it is rather sweet and authentic in a way you can’t possibly expect. And talk about a cast for a film without much of a budget. Mooney manages to wrangle in Mark Hamill, Claire Daines, Greg Kinnear, Matt Walsh and even Andy Samberg to go on his adventure. Brigsby Bear is a real winner, delivering a genuinely heart-warming story. A-

The Philadelphia Story: The Criterion Collection
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
On DVD and Blu-ray
Getting the Criterion treatment this month is George Cukor’s classic 1940 romcom starring Katherine Hepburn, who plays a socialite on the eve of her wedding, as she fights with her charming ex-husband (Cary Grant) and falls for a handsome reporter (James Stewart). Widely regarded as one of the best romantic comedies of all time, Criterion has given the classic a stunning new 4K restoration as well as a new documentary and several older special features, placed here for both a deeper dive and context. A+

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of November 13, 2017

Popcorn Perspectives by Danny Minton

Week of November 13, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express
Rated PG-13 for violence and thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%
In Theaters
Kenneth Branagh stars and directs this film based on the famous Agatha Christie novel about the world’s greatest detective who just happens to be on a train where a murder has taken place, and who must piece together the clues in order to find out who did it. While the film has some absolutely stunning production, what will prove to be most valuable is the all-star cast including Johnny Depp, Judy Dench, Daisy Ridley, Penelope Cruz, Leslie Odom, Jr., Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad and Michelle Pfeiffer. It really is an exceptional cast and it is mind-blowing that all of these talents would come together for such a mediocre film. The story itself is fantastic. In the third act when you learn the details of the murder, you can’t help but be drawn in and surprised. It’s an incredible story turn that you don’t get to fully absorb because everything is seen and moved by Kenneth Branagh as detective Hercule Poirot. Everything is viewed and judged by his morality, his ethics and his sense of justice. While I’m sure this monstrous ego is written into the stories he stars in, it is less than welcome here as it gets in the way of the juicy plot. This ego also slows things down too much when it can hardly afford it, creating pacing problems throughout the movie. So while the movie is impressive in many regards, it is overall a disappointment. C

Wind River
Rated R for strong violence, a rape, disturbing images and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
On Blu-ray and DVD
From Taylor Sheridan, the writer of Sicario and Hell or High Water (the best film of last year in my opinion) comes this terrifying and terrific thriller about tracker with the Fish and Wildlife Service (Jeremy Renner) and a young FBI agent (Elizebeth Olsen) who investigate the death of a young Native American woman on a secluded Indian Reservation in Wyoming. While there are many detective movies out there, when one comes along that is so unique and yet authentic, its hard to take your eyes of off it, even for a second. This is certainly the case here. While Sheridan is fairly new to the director gig, you wouldn’t know from this as it is masterful in both its scripting and directing, giving the audience a remarkable piece of fiction that feels more like a gut-wrenching window to a part of the world that most of us know very little about. Sure its a tough one to absorb and some of the scenes will knock the breath of out of you, but by the end you will understand that you just witnessed something great. A

Atomic Blonde
Rated R for sequences of strong violence, language throughout, and some sexuality/nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%
On Blu-ray and DVD
Going for a sort of female Jason Bourne flick that takes place during the cold war, Charlize Theron takes on the role of the butt-kicking MI6 super spy who must take down an espionage ring in Berlin, right as the wall is about to fall. So I’m the one guy who didn’t really like the Jason Bourne films that much, but I had a giddy time here. I credit that to the superb fight choreography which is some of the best I’ve seen outside of Asian cinema. And when you throw in a cool plot and the user-sexy Theron who even looks great with bruises and cuts all over her, well – you end up with a fun and exciting movie diversion. B

Cars 3
Rated G
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%
On Blu-ray and DVD
After the last Cars movie drew in the worst critical ire of any Pixar film, its surprising that they can back for more. This time out they went away from the spy genre of the second pic and back to racing. As technology increases, the newer cars have an advantage on the track and Lightning McQueen is starting to think that his sheer skill might not be able to overcome this change to racing. It’s definitely the right direction for the franchise to move to and the artistry is top-notch. But even the vastly improved reviews didn’t make much of a difference at the box office as it pulled in a relatively low haul compared to its other Pixar counterparts. Personally, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. B-