Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of May 4, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of May 4, 2020

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, some suggestive material and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 30%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Vin Diesel stars in this comic book adaptation about a soldier who dies in battle, only to wake up as a government super-solider who is almost unstoppable. The movie hit theaters with a thud in mid-march due to COVID-19 and immediately went to streaming for $20 a pop to try to help recoup its large investment. Technically the film looks great, with bigger than life set pieces and decent effects. It also helps to have a supporting cast like Sam Heughan and Guy Pearce. Where the movie ultimately fails is its inability to deliver a final product on footing with its dark tone. In order to make this a genesis story for a hopeful big franchise, the studio decided to make this a PG-13 picture, probably to pick up a younger audience. But it’s not PG-13 material and that really hurts it in the end. Also, it so desperately wants to be Iron Man (and even scored the Iron Man 3 villain in a similar role) that it becomes overly predictable throughout its entirety. But in the end, it almost works, and just might find an audience with such a small amount of competition out there. C

Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout, language and brief drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%
Available on Netflix

We may not be getting a string of big theatrical releases priming us for a big tentpole summer, but Netflix surely threw out a surprise with its new big-budget actioner starring Chris Hemsworth as an Australian mercenary who is hired to retrieve a drug lord’s kidnapped son in Bangladesh. The film looks and feels like it could have been a moderate hit in theaters, as it is original and interesting enough to keep you engaged throughout. Personally, I loved the setting and the villains, as they both felt new and different from what we are used to, giving the film a novel edge, even though we’ve seen this story before many times. And you can’t beat the leading man as Hemsworth is perfect in this role, delivering a flawed hero worthy of spending two hours with. By the end, it is basically still a mindless and extremely violent action film, but one that many folks will enjoy, especially since they get to watch from the comfort of their own home. B

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

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of April 20, 2020

The Gentlemen
Rated R for violence, language throughout, sexual references and drug content
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%
Available on Disc and Streaming

The extremely versatile writer/director Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes, Aladdin) is back to his British gangster film roots with this new highly stylistic crime thriller/comedy about an American Marijuana kingpin in London (Matthew McConaughey) who wishes to cash out his business. But this sale triggers all sorts of vile plots from the people of the London underworld. With a great script and Ritchie’s unique style of filmmaking, the movie proves to be a hilarious dark comedy with lots of surprises and unexpected enjoyment. But what really makes this film shine are the juicy characters, played by a terrific cast. With Charlie Hunnam, Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant and others you’ll instantly recognize, all who fully inhabit their weird little violent world, you tend to get lost in the urban jungle, dying to see who will get it next and in what crazy manner. This is definitely one of the bright spots of 2020 so far. A-

Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and terror, and for brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 48%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This Alien knockoff starring Kristen Stewart and Vincent Cassel follows a group of underwater researchers who uncover scary monsters after an earthquake damages their deepwater laboratory. The plot of a small group of people stuck in a small space far from home with creatures trying to get them is still quite popular. Dozens of films have attempted to recreate this scenario, from 1989’s Leviathan to 2017’s Life. But even the decent ones still have a tough time capturing an audience, and this new one definitely busted a pipe. Here the actors are good enough and take the material seriously, but the movie comes across as too dark yet insufficiently scary, with too many been there, done that moments throughout. And while the budget was fairly high, the creature effects were surprisingly underwhelming. It’s one saving grace is that it is PG-13, so fairly benign for teenage audiences. C-

Like a Boss
Rated R for language, crude sexual material, and drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 21%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This new raunch-com stars Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne as two BFF’s whose friendship is put to the test as they prepare to sell their cosmetics company to a giant corporation run by Salma Hayek. Haddish is hit and miss with me, but Byrne is usually rock solid, providing an anchor to the comedic material she attaches herself to. But in this misfire, hardly a thing is funny, believable or enjoyable. The raunch doesn’t provide any humor and only seems to serve as shock value or possibly just a way to elevate the movie to an R rating, which might have hurt it. By the end, this feels like a group of amateurs got lucky with an A cast and didn’t know what to do with them. D-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of April 13, 2020

Trolls World Tour
Rated PG for some mild rude humor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%
Available for streaming

Several movies recently have decided to forgo theatrical runs, or at least head to streaming early, but this sequel to the very popular Trolls film is the first major tentpole to do so and they are counting on a very large audience shelling out $20 to rent from home. Will it work? Who knows. But is it worth it? That’s what I’m here to discuss. The story takes place after the events of the last film where Princess Poppy discovers that there are five other Troll tribes, all with differing types of music from her pop (funk, country, techno, classical and rock). So she goes on a journey to find the princess of rock to make friends. But the rock princess wants to take over the other tribes and make all music rock, forcing a weird war of color and musical variety. First off, this has the look and feel of a big film, which is strange to watch first at home, but it is the times. The animation is absolutely mesmerizing to look at and admire. Also, the story is whacky and unpredictable, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a way that feels like they are making it up as they go along. But at least the jokes are frequently funny and the voice talent is top notch. That being said, the plot around the six strings is ridiculous and while the very heart of the story revolves around music being different and the need for acceptance and appreciation of different musical cultures, in the end, all of the music is pop. It’s one thing to play Ozzy Osbourne (who also voices the king of rock), but if it sounds like Kidzbop – something went wrong. Then again – the main audience is kids so not only will they not care but they might just be singing along with you in the car next time you turn on Crazy Train or Barracuda. So in my mind, it is well-worth the $20 rental – but do it right. Turn off the lights, put away the phones, get a ton of soda and popcorn and make an evening out of it! B

Just Mercy
Rated PG-13 for thematic content including some racial epithets
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
Available on Disc and Streaming

One film that should have been an awards contender last year is this true story about a talented young Harvard-educated lawyer (Michael B. Jordan) who moves to Alabama to defend wrongly-condemned prisoners who were not afforded proper representation. When he discovers a death row inmate (Jamie Foxx) who might be innocent, he puts his practice and his very life on the line to give him the defense he deserves. If you are into legal dramas or films about social injustices, this is a great one. From start to finish, the story is riveting as it makes a great case for reform within our legal and correctional systems. On top of that, the A-list cast is tremendous as is the storytelling. My only guess on why Warner Brothers dropped the ball on promoting was that it was too busy touting Joker and Richard Jewell and Just Mercy was unfortunately the odd man out. But whatever the reason it got overlooked, this is an important story worth checking out now that you can watch at home. A-

The Rhythm Section
Rated R for violence, sexual content, language throughout, and some drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 28%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Blake Lively stars as a woman on the road to self-destruction after her family is killed in a plane crash. But after she discovers that the crash was a terrorist attack, she trains to be an assassin, determined to kill the people responsible. I have to admit that I’ve been impressed with Blake lately and she has proven worthy of headlining material like this. And with a supporting cast including Jude Law and Sterling K. Brown, the acting is obviously isn’t the problem here. What doesn’t work is that the story proves to be one let down after another as you meander until the bitter end. It just doesn’t capture the attention to the level needed, and by the end it is just too easy to become apathetic. It was a good try, but a failed shot. C

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

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of April 6, 2020

Rated PG for some action, rude humor and brief language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 15%
Available on Disc and Streaming

For years I’ve been waiting for a remake of one of my favorite childhood movie musicals: 1967’s Oscar-winning Doctor Dolittle (I’m not quite that old, but discovered it when I was young). It’s been begging for a special effects-driven adaptation and upon first hearing of this project, I thought we would actually get it. But alas I was wrong again. In this newest attempt to bring the doctor back, Robert Downey Jr. stars as the 19th century veterinarian who can somehow talk to animals, and has many of them as his best friends. For some strange reason, he is summoned to the bed of the young Queen of England who is dying of an unknown illness, forcing him to go on an adventure to find the one thing that might cure her. The plot doesn’t make any sense, but the actual story of the adventure somewhat works. The problem is that there is nothing here for adults. The story seems to only works for kids, who also tend to lose attention from what I noticed. You couldn’t ask for a better director than Stephen Gaghan, and the voice cast, including Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Ralph Fiennes and many others, is so loaded that you would think that it was too big to fail. But it does fail with a lack of energy that is surprisingly low. It looks beautiful and ambitious from the outside and once in you realize how empty and hollow it truly is. But while this one fails to deliver the product promised, I’m still holding up hope that some day I will get to see the 60’s musical version get the modern treatment it deserves. For now I’ll just continue to be disappointed in flailing attempts like this. C-

Little Women
Rated PG for thematic elements and brief smoking
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
Available on Disc and Streaming

From writer/director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), comes this adaptation of the classic Civil War era novel by Louisa May Alcott about a family of girls with ambitions that far outweigh their place in society, while they must also deal with life, love and the expectations placed on them. Having never read the novel, I really thought that was going to be one of my favorites of 2020. After all, I have an affinity for Jane Austen, and when you gather such a stellar cast, including Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Laura Dern, Timothee Chalamet and Meryl Streep, how could you go wrong. But what I learned quickly was that because this was one of the earliest stories of its kind, it didn’t fit into the modern formula, and as much as I like unconventional, it doesn’t give me the pleasure of the formula. For example, Jane Austen excels at the “meet cute” where the romantic leads discover each other’s existence in some fun and unusual way. Here you discover the pseudo romantic leads as long-time friends feeling out something deeper. That kind of element just doesn’t pull you in the same way. It’s not wrong, but it’s also not as effective. That being said, the writing and directing are academically fantastic and the acting is a flat-out masterclass. In addition, the score by Alexandre Desplat is one of the best of the year and demands to be listened to sans film. So while I can’t say it delivered on my expectations, it still delivered a fine film that is highly enjoyable and equally thought-provoking. B+

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of March 30, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of March 30, 2020

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 52%
Available on Disc, Paid Streaming and Disney+

The official final chapter of the Skywalker Saga got a pounding from critics, making it the worst reviewed of the nine films on Rotten Tomatoes, but audiences disagreed, not allowing critics to keep them away from seeing their heroes reach the finality of their struggle. In this ninth chapter, the emperor (who we thought we lost way back in Return of the Jedi, is back and stronger than ever as he prepares to launch an attack from a major fleet of star destroyers. With Rey believing she is the only one who can stop him, she sets off on a quest to discover his whereabouts, with Kylo Ren hot on her trail. Just like the last chapter, this one has a bit too much going on, making it somewhat hard to figure out. But while that might require folks to watch it a few times to fully get it (something fans don’t seem to mind doing in this universe), it doesn’t take away from either the ambitious storytelling or the fun and excitement. Just as most of us had hoped, the movie provides for an audacious and thrilling adventure that turns out surprisingly easy to enjoy. Could J.J. Abrams and crew made different choices that would have been more popular with the fans? Sure – but I’d rather see what the characters do – not what I want them to do. A-

Sonic the Hedgehog
Rated PG for action, some violence, rude humor and brief mild language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 64%
Available March 31 on Paid Streaming. Available May 19 on Disc.

Getting a huge jump on its summer disc release, Sonic is getting a jump on home digital download this week. The story follows the lightening-fast space rodent from the Sega video game franchise as he, along with the help of his new-found Earth friend Tom (James Marsden), try to escape the clutches of the villainous Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) who wants to capture Sonic to use his powers to help him take over the world. The movie had a bit of a hiccup in production when fans were creeped out by the creature’s looks and the studio demanded a do-over. But with a much more cartoony-looking character, as well as Carey’s over-the-top villain, the movie turns out to be a mindless yet fun action-packed family film that at least the kids will enjoy while you take a short and much-needed break from your new homeschooling adventure. B-

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-