Popcorn Perspectives – Week of September 25, 2017

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

September 25, 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Rated R for sequences of strong violence, drug content, language throughout and some sexual material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 50%
In this sequel to the surprisingly successful Kingsman: The Secret Service, mens tailor and British super-agent Eggsy (Taron Egerton) must travel to America to work with his American allies to face the world’s biggest drug kingpin (Julianne Moore). As in the first, the film is highly stylized and extremely violent. The violence is kept tongue-in-cheek in order to provide a comedic feel, making the film closer to an action comedy than a true spy thriller. For fans of the first, there is a huge sense of humor with the ridiculousness abounding, but here they do tend to almost go too far and they gloss over some huge holes in the plot like they aren’t even there. And while Moore is quirky bad guy, she doesn’t come close to Samuel L. Jackson’s super-villain Richmond Valentine (safely disposed of in the first film). So for guilty pleasure purposes, the film provides a fun couple of hours, but ultimately fails to match its superior freshman outing. B-

Transformers: The Last Knight
Rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of sci-fi action, language, and some innuendo
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 15%
For their fifth installment, Michael Bay’s robot universe is back and this time a hidden history holds the secrets that could protect Earth from certain destruction. It is quite apparent that they’ve stopped trying to apply any sense of logic or reason to the stories, so the script feels like something a couple of kids on the playground would put together while playing with their plastic figures. Of course you get the sexy male and female leads with Mark Wahlberg and Isabela Moner, and Anthony Hopkins attempts to add some credibility (while stripping from his own), but once again we just get a loud, metallic mess with great special effects that you can’t wait to stop looking at. The one bright moment comes with Hopkin’s servant robot who provides some rather big laughs to help you take your mind off the senseless plot while they attempt to explain it to you. C-

David Lynch: The Art Life – The Criterion Collection
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
Writer/director David Lynch (Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet) allows his life to be inspected in order to explore the pivotal moments that made him who he is today as an artist, a filmmaker and a person. With stock footage of his life growing up, as well as glimpses of him working in his art studio, the film gives, what I would consider to be, a very accurate look at the eclectic man. The film is weird for sure, but interesting for the right audience. But to say this isn’t a film for everyone is an understatement to rule all understatements. While sometimes you feel like you are peeking into the life of an artist, there are other other moments when you feel like you are visually eavesdropping on a madman. B-

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of September 18, 2017

Popcorn Perspectives by Danny Minton

Week of September 18, 2017

mother!
Rated R for strong disturbing violent content, some sexuality, nudity and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%
There will likely not be as divisive of a film this year as writer/director Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! The proof of this is in the relatively high Rotten Tomatoes critics score while having a rare F from the audience-driven Cinemascore. Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem play a young married couple who are trying to put their lives back together after a disaster took their house. But what has audiences angry is that it is not at all about that. In fact the narrative is completely metaphorical. It’s like a long, confusing parable where Jesus doesn’t stop to explain its meaning afterward. From what I could piece together, the story is biblical allegory from a twisted point of view. But it is so cryptic that it will take countless viewings and hours of study to fully comprehend and appreciate. Someday I might put in the time, but for now, for me, this pic is going back on the shelf to be opened at a later date when I have time to waste and I’m more in the mood. B-

The Vietnam War
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
For over 30 years documentarian Ken Burns has given us some of the greatest visions and classic storytelling of American history. In this new 10 part, 18-hour docuseries from PBS, Burns focuses on the large and small of the Vietnam War, from its causes and forces, to the people who fought in it (on both sides), to the families suffering at home while their loved ones were suffering and dying. While this terrible war has been looked at from many angles, this will no doubt be considered to be the most definitive and epic commentary on the war available to date. And while the length may scare some off, it is surprisingly binge-worthy as you process what you know from what you don’t and attempt to put it all together in your brain. A+

The Big Sick
Rated R for language including some sexual references
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
This autobiographical comedy from Pakistani actor Kumail Nanjiani tells his story about being a young stand-up comedian whose ex-girlfriend (Zoe Kazan) gets sick and goes into a coma as he and her parents (Ray Romano and Holly Hunter) draw close while hoping and waiting for her to recover. It is sweet and endearing while also being hysterical and thought-provoking. It is certainly one of the highlights of 2017 so far. A

Wonder Woman
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, and some suggestive content
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
After her first appearance in the rather lousy Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I was worried that this film would be equally bad. But director Patty Jenkins pulled off a minor miracle by giving the Amazonian princess a terrific origin story wrapped up in a fast-paced and well-made movie. Gal Gadot is perfect as Wonder Woman, in spite of my well-deserved concerns, and I actually look forward to seeing what comes next for her. A-

Captain Underpants: The Epic First Movie
Rated PG for mild rude humor throughout
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
In spite of great reviews from both critics and audiences, as well as a large base of fans of their kids graphic novels, this animated superhero flick landed with a relative thud in theaters. But I can certainly understand why. From the outside, this tale of two elementary-aged friends who convert their mean principle into an underwear-clad caped crusader in order to fight a villain known as Professor Poopypants seems like a mindless onslaught of potty humor. And maybe it is a little. But it is also a wildly creative adventure with smart writing and great voice talent with Kevin Hart and Ed Helms as the best friends. With theaters so devoid right now of good content for children, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for this home release. B

Popcorn Perspectives – September 12, 2017

Popcorn Perspectives

September 12, 2017

It
Rated R for violence/horror, bloody images and for language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
The horror phenomenon from Stephen King finally gets its big screen debut, 31 years after its initial book release, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. It seems that the scary clown, most likely popularized by his original book, is scarier than ever, and in this case a group of young friends, looking for one of their members’ missing brothers, come face to face with Pennywise the clown, a monster determined to wreak havoc on the town of Derry, Maine. While the first few minutes are absolutely terrifying, the rest of the film is merely effectively creepy, which plays in its favor. Because of the great screenplay and even better casting of complete unknowns, the film has a feel much more like “Stand By Me” or “Stranger Things” than the nightmare-ridden story most of us are familiar with. In this case it works phenomenally well, leaving you thoroughly engaged rather than shaking in your boots. B+

Beatriz at Dinner
Rated R for language and a scene of violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%
Salma Hayek is a masseuse whose car breaks down at her client’s home, where she is invited to a big dinner with the very Trump-like John Lithgow, a greedy real estate developer with a very differing political, ethical and moral point of view from her own. With a quiet confidence, she attempts to take down and change the group until their darkness overwhelms her. Mike White’s screenplay doesn’t immediately let on to its dark undertones, but I mention them here as it was kind of an unwelcome surprise. Or maybe that was the intent. Either way, the dialog is riveting and the performances by Hayek and Lithgow are terrific. The arch of the story isn’t a letdown but it is unsettling, so I will be honest that my thoughts might change over time on this one. B+

It Comes at Night
Rated R for violence, disturbing images, and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
Texas filmmaker Trey Edward Shults (Krisha) follows up his huge 2015 SXSW winner with this pseudo horror film about a post-apocalyptic world where husband and father Joel Egerton and family live safely in their well-protected home, hiding from whatever it is out there, until he allows a young family to seek refuge in their hiding spot. While not exactly terrifying, it turns out to be a nice little psychological drama, focusing on the interpersonal relationships rather than the boogeyman, whatever that might be. B-

The Mummy
Rated PG-13 for violence, action and scary images, and for some suggestive content and partial nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 16%
Universal Studios really wants to get this monster movie thing going again and in this case they throw a huge budget at The Mummy by bringing on Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe (as Dr. Henry Jeckyll). Unfortunately, the script is a mess and not worthy of the money backing it, leaving the audience with a confusing and less-than-entertaining tentpole. They rely on huge set pieces, when what they needed was a more convincing villain and a better sense of humor. This week “It” proved that audiences want monster movies. The failure of The Mummy proves that they want good ones. C-

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial 4K Ultra HD Edition
Rated PG for language and mild thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
Now that the studios are re-releasing our favorite films on Ultra-HD, I’m sure they fully hope that we go back and re-purchase our library in the latest and greatest format. I’ll admit that I have bitten for a few titles, but none so much as E.T., the film that is most responsible for my love of cinema. This is the same E.T. we have always loved, following the adventures of a young boy and his alien discovery. But this new version, as expected, looks and sounds more amazing than ever. So while I have promised my wife that I won’t start over on a brand-new movie collection, especially now that everything is going to streaming, this is a title I can’t resist. A+