Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of August 31, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of August 31, 2020

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence
Available on Disney+ Premier Access

Based on the 1998 Disney animated movie, Mulan follows a young Chinese girl with great fighting ability, who pretends to be a boy in order to join the military. But instead of following the path of its predecessors Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, with big musical numbers throughout, Mulan skips the songs and silliness to present an all-out action flick with a tremendous unknown talent (Yifei Liu) leading the way. Fighting alongside her (and against her) are some of martial arts greats legends: Donnie Yen, Jason Scott Lee, Gong Li and Jet Li – and there abilities are put to great use here. But personally, I miss the songs here. While Matthew Wilder’s music wasn’t the best of the big Disney musicals, a couple of the tunes are noticeably absent here – especially the song “Reflection” which only shows up in this version during the credits. But artistically that is not what they were going for here and I can appreciate that. I can only imagine how hard it is to find a young actress capable of this kind of action role, who can also sing her brains out. But for what the film misses in its Broadway feel, it more than makes up for in pure intensity. The action sequences are big and bold with lots of creative choreography and impressive stuntwork. Also, the production is out of this world with sets and costumes that are sure to garner some nominations when awards season finally hits. The film doesn’t have the emotional punch that I expected, but it certainly satisfies throughout and provides for at least one big epic film we get to enjoy as summer winds down. Originally slated for a theatrical opening on July 24, Disney obviously grew tired of pushing it back, and instead opted to make it their first movie for a new tier of Disney+ called Premier Access, where you can watch at home for an additional $30. B

Bill & Ted Face the Music
Rated PG-13 for some language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

Available in theaters and paid streaming
It’s been almost 30 years since Bill and Ted (Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter) graced the screen and advanced the story where their music would ultimately be responsible for saving the world. But now, decades later, the future has come back to them again, and this time they are under the gun to write that hit song which will ultimately be the savior of the universe. But with only an hour and change to write it, they opt to visit future versions of themselves to try to find out more about the song. After all – its not stealing if you are stealing from yourself. And as they are on their journey, their daughters (also named Bill and Ted) travel through time to put together the greatest band in history. As in both of their previous outings, the film is stupid and silly – but good stupid and silly. It takes a bit of effort to get through the beginning, especially the weird and out of place wedding scene, but once it does, it manages to be a funny and refreshing comedy. I’m guessing that this movie exclusively belongs to its fans, meaning that if you haven’t seen or didn’t like the first two – this might not exactly entertain you. Fortunately there are enough of us who love Bill and Ted, making this a most welcome return of our time-traveling heroes. B+

Rated R for language including sexual references
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 40%
Available on Blu-ray ray and paid streaming

Former Daily Show host John Stewart wrote and directed this political comedy about a Democrat political consultant (Steve Carell) who discovers a potential goldmine candidate in a small farm town (Chris Cooper), thus sweeping in to sign him up for the town’s mayoral race. But when his arch nemesis Republican consultant (Rose Byrne) discovers his plot, she comes in to start a circus by throwing big money behind the opposing candidate. The story seemed like a winner, as did the cast with three huge names at the top of the ticket, but not having seen it until now, I was confused about all the bad reviews. The problem with the film is that it works way too hard to try to fool you. Rather than being a sweet predictable comedy about a super relevant issue, it forgoes that pathway to pull a Fight Club, which winds up to be unwelcome rather than mind-blowing. It’s interesting how Stewart tries to tie it all together during the credits, but that’s just not enough to cast the shadow of relevancy needed to rework the narrative in your head. C

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of August 25, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of August 24, 2020

The Personal History of David Copperfield
Rated PG for thematic material and brief violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
In Theaters

So I only thought I knew Dickens. Upon thinking back, I have never read the novel or seen any of the seemingly dozens of film and television adaptations that have been popping up since the dawn of film. The story, based on the classic book “The Personal History, Adventures, Experience and Observation of David Copperfield the Younger of Blunderstone Rookery” by Charles Dickens, follows the life of a little boy who goes on his journey to manhood through fun adventures and horrible struggles, from having money and love, to losing everything and being sold into childhood labor, to rising above it all and finding romance. And in this new version, all is done in grand fashion. Writer/Director Armando Iannucci (creator of Veep, Avenue 5 and 2018’s brilliant The Death of Stalin) is the star of the show, even with an immensely talented cast. Due to the masterful writing and directing, the film turns out to be a vibrant, punchy and charming comedy with huge laughs and a great heart. Before watching this, I could only imagine stuffy performances by a heavily-accented white English cast. But in full Hamilton mode here – the cast is blaringly multicultural with the handsome Dev Patel in the lead role. And the typically stuffy English types are instead played by a fabulously eclectic gang including Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi and Tilda Swinton. Just as in Ianucci’s other works, this is some seriously great ensemble storytelling where the multitude of interesting characters and their individual stories only help to bring the main tale to life, rather than detracting from it. As a final note – this makes for a terrific family film, and it happens to be the only new family film in theaters, for those in the need of braving the experience. Your kids might not be begging to go see it, but I would almost guarantee that the entire family, from young to old, will have a great time watching. And you might just end up with some new Dickens fans in your house. A

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

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of August 17, 2020

Rated R for strong violent content, and language throughout
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 49% at time of writing
In Theaters

After COVID-19 hit, this little-known thriller with Russell Crowe made the move to be the first official theatrical release once theaters would open in early July. Of course that didn’t happen and now it will be the first big theatrical release now that theaters might be finally opening this week. The story follows a very angry and off-kilter southerner who, after being honked at while not moving at a traffic light, decides to take out all of his life’s frustrations on an unsuspecting woman and her son, in order to show her what a bad day really looks like. Upon first watching the trailer, I was immediately convinced that the timing couldn’t be worse for a film like this, which seemed almost politically-themed with two sides that can’t figure out their differences. But I was wrong there. This is a monster movie, with Crowe playing a creature almost like a land-locked Jaws, bound and determined to wreak mindless havoc and chaos to destroy the life of a single person, without any regard for his own. He envelops his character quite perfectly and turns out to be a terrifically scary force on the screen. The film turns out to be a fast-paced road rage thriller with a resounding message that should help us all the next time we consider either getting angry or accidentally exacerbating someone else’s anger on the highway. B+

The One and Only Ivan
Rated PG for mild thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%
Available on Disney+

Originally slated for a theatrical release this past week, Ivan, based on the true story from the children’s novel by K. A. Applegate, stars Bryan Cranston as a circus owner and ringmaster who runs a small mall-based circus featuring a menagerie of talking animals including a silverback gorilla (Sam Rockwall) and an elderly elephant (Angelina Jolie). Struggling to fill their seats, the flawed but loving owner does what he can to keep the circus alive and the animals in his care. Honestly, the movie has a rough start and I was ready to give up pretty quickly, not thinking I’d be able to cut through all the cheese. But once you are into the meat of the story, the film converts into an interesting and thoughtful family film with a simple yet effective message and an unexpectedly poignant epilogue. So what I thought might end up a train wreck, wound up to be a sweet surprise. B

Rated PG-13 for violence throughout, language including racial epithets, and some disturbing images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: None at time of writing
Available on Disc and Streaming

Yet another film with theatrical aspirations whose dreams were crushed by COVID-19, is this little-know story about a slave named Shields Green, nicknamed “emperor” due to being an apparent descendant of African kings, who runs away after tragedy hits his life on his plantation, eventually finding himself fighting with a group of abolitionists during the Raid on Harper’s Ferry, the battle that is thought to have initiated the Civil War. Just as in the recent film Harriet, there is a great story here which I was thankful to learn about. As a character, Green seems like a hero whose tale needs to be told to a wider audience, and Dayo Okeniyi puts up a strong performance to represent him, thankfully overshadowing the unnecessary fluff like the cunning slave hunter hired to catch him. Unfortunately, this version of the story feels rushed at 99 minutes, and by the end it is too apparent that this is a highlights reel rather than the historical epic it might deserve. That being said, I’m glad I was able to get a little insight in this brief introduction to a seemingly important historical figure who most will want to learn more about after the credits roll. B-

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

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of August 10, 2020

Boys State
Rated PG-13 for some strong language, and thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
Available on Apple TV+

This Sundance documentary winner follows a group of over a thousand young men who descend upon the Texas State Capital for a week of teenage politics and other fun during its famous Boys State week. In true Cinéma vérité style, the filmmakers start off following a select number of boys, for whom I can only assume they had high expectations for, as the boys run for political positions and even the final prize of Governor. The film starts out as fun and frivolous as the parties discuss platforms such as standing up for things like state cessation and alien invasion defense (space aliens obviously). But as the more serious discussions head to abortion and second amendment rights, the politics get uglier showing the true colors of those who are willing to do anything to win and those with high ideals trying to create change in their communities and country. It is both deeply funny, yet also frightening, as you see what could be the future leaders of America and how much trouble we could be in if underhanded tricks and propaganda keep working on those casting their votes. But overall, this movie is so engaging and filled with hope as you see the young men work out in their heads, both in word and action, what they hope to accomplish today and tomorrow. A

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

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of August 4, 2020

The Secret Garden
Rated PG for thematic elements and some mild peril
Rotten Tomatoes Score: None at time of writing
Available on Paid Streaming

Originally bound for theaters but driven to On Demand due to Covid is this retelling of the classic story based on the 1911 book by Frances Hodgson Burnett about a young girl who, upon the death of her parents, is forced to move in with her newly widowed uncle and his sick child. To cut through the gloom, the girl is led by a bird and a dog to a marvelous secret garden with the power to heal everyone’s massive depression and ailments. There have been several versions of this story over the decades, including a terrific film in 1993 and an inventive Broadway show in 1991, so I’m not sure this version is entirely necessary. They made a slight change in the timeline, as this one occurs post WWII rather than in the turn of the century, but most of the beats are largely untouched. What the film does have going for it is a beautiful score by one of my favorite composers, Dario Marianelli, a lush production and some great special effects. It also helps to have Colin Firth and Julie Walters along for the ride. But in the end, I’m not sure we needed this reimagining, as it wasn’t nearly imaginative enough to stake its claim. B-

La Llorona
Not Rated
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
Available on Shudder
In Spanish with English Subtitles

Not to be confused with the silly horror film “The Curse of La Llorona” which released earlier this year, La Llorona follows the struggle of the family of a genocidal Latin American general as the spirits of the Mayan people he has brutally killed start to encroach into their lives. Premiering on the new streaming site for horror films, called “Shudder,” the film is far less horror and much more riveting drama. The storytelling really stands out here and the acting truly enhances the flow as the performances are both organic and gut-wrenching. And while the folklore of La Llorona is somewhat touched on here, the biggest flaw of the film seems to be its title, which makes it out to be just another cheesy low budget wailing woman flick, when it is really so much more. A-

You Should Have Left
Rated R for some violence, disturbing images, sexual content and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 41%
Available on DVD and Paid Streaming

From writer/director David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Spider-Man) comes this thriller staring Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried about a formerly successful businessman and his young actress wife as they rent a house in the Welsh countryside while she’s on a film shoot. But the house begins to feel like a trap as revelations are made about his past begin to make their presence known. This project seemed to be a promising one as its creator and cast are all mostly dependable. Unfortunately the whole thing seems off due to an overly predictable plot and a poor excuse for scares. There might be the bones of a decent little thriller here, but it just doesn’t come together. C-

Summer of Spielberg: Week Ten
Rated PG
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 28%
Available on Showtime and Paid Streaming

In 1991 Spielberg took on the story of Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up, by casting America’s favorite comedian, Robin Williams, as the adult version of that boy, now living in the regular world as a boring lawyer who neglects his children. But when Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) kidnaps his kids, Tinker Bell (Julia Roberts) takes Peter back to Neverland for an adventure to get them back. With a lavish and beautiful production, some terrific performances and a truly magical feel, Hook ends up being a fantastic journey and a lesson in not allowing the real world to overwhelm you and completely change who you are. Of all of the films I’m exploring in this summer series – this one certainly has the most detractors. Sure the script is a bit flawed and it feels a little theme-parky. And then there are the critics who seemed to pile on pretty sharply. Try to ignore that. This film is way better than its 28% Rotten Tomatoes score. The film received 5 Oscar nominations in a really tough year and it still remains fun and emotionally resonant to this day. Hook is a much better film than it has ever been given credit for.

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of July 27, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of July 27, 2020

Rebuilding Paradise
Rated PG-13
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Available Through Violet Crown’s Virtual Cinema

Once again using his time to make a documentary (his last outing explored the life of Pavarotti), Ron Howard sets out here to look at the town of Paradise, CA, where 95% of the city burned to the ground in 2018, killing 85 residents and displacing more than 50,000 lives. Through interviews with a variety of people from the town and being onsite through its rebuilding process, the documentary closely and delicately allows the people to tell their story as they struggle to not only keep Paradise alive, but also find a way to strengthen their devastated community. Rather than place himself into the narrative, Howard sincerely and skillfully stays out of the fray while allowing you to feel like a first-hand observer, making decisions along with Paradise’s resilient citizens, while at the same time empathetically traversing their path. The end result is a movie not about the fire, but rather about what it takes to survive and overcome an ordeal in modern America. As an aside, some arthouse theaters have created a way to watch important independent, foreign and documentary films virtually. In this case, National Geographic is working with Violet Crown out of Austin (and other small theaters nationally) to release content for home viewing so you don’t have to miss out during Covid. A

Summer of Spielberg: Week Nine
The Color Purple
Rated PG-13 for adult situations/language, violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%
Available on Hulu and Paid Streaming

When I was 13 years old, I was a bigger fan of director Steven Spielberg than I was of any movie star or athlete, so when he took on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Alice Walker, I didn’t know anything about the story, the book’s pedigree or the cast. I walked into the theater by myself for the first time (none of my friends wanted to see the movie) to watch what would become my favorite film for the next 8 years of my life. The story revolves around a young girl named Celie (played by then newcomer Whoopi Goldberg), whose life during the early part of the twentieth century in rural Georgia is chronicled as she is impregnated by her father twice as a teenager, only to have her babies taken from her, and then given to a widower (Danny Glover) to raise his babies and clean his home as an unloved and battered wife. Told delicately but shrewdly by Spielberg, who had never shot anything like this previously in his career, it’s a torturous and painful story that breaks your heart into pieces while simultaneously building up a powerful spirit of hope and love. It was also responsible for catapulting the careers of its then unknown actors including Goldberg, Glover and Oprah Winfrey who steals every scene she is in. It moved me like nothing ever had moved me before in my young age (and still is as impactful today). There are those that dismiss Spielberg’s version of the book claiming that he shied away from the novel’s more brutal and sexual elements in order to make a box office friendly PG-13 film. But I’m so thankful he did. Had it been rated R, I probably would have missed that important experience at a pivotal age. An experience which was responsible for my love of film, and thus probably my writing about movies today. The Color Purple also marks the first time I paid attention to the Oscars as I sat patiently waiting for its first win of the night, which never happened. Although it got 10 nods, it was disappointingly shut out by Out of Africa (and a couple others). The movie was my primer to the Black experience in America and the systemic racism of the time. In retrospect, that night of the Oscars probably upset me so much due to also being introduced to the racism that existed in Hollywood, which they have only recently begun addressing. At that moment, my naive and innocent version of moviemaking began to abruptly evolve.

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

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of July 20, 2020

The Rental
Rated R for violence, language throughout, drug use and some sexuality
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%
Available in Drive-Ins, Select Theaters and Paid Streaming

There have been multiple news stories in recent years of people checking into their vacation rental, only to find out that their every move was being recorded by a pervy owner with a hidden camera. In this new psychological thriller, writer/director Dave Franco tells the tale of two young couples who rent a secluded beach house only to find out that they are being watched. Clocking in at a little less than 90 minutes, you get just enough character development to somewhat care about the characters, as well as their motivations and fears. It’s actually a really nice amount of tension laid out with honest reactions and a realistic-enough plot. And when the hammer finally falls, the horror action is swift and scary. As a first-time writing and directing gig for Franco, who we have seen plenty of times on screen as an actor in such films as Neighbors and The Disaster Artist, this is pretty good work. The film has an eerie feel and the plot is original, unnerving and topical being that these kinds of vacations are the simplest to be had during a pandemic. And while you won’t catch me in a theater right now, I love the idea of seeing this at a drive-in rather than renting at the house. It may not scare the socks off of you, but with a good script, great cast and fast pace, it will certainly give you the chills for now – and whenever you rent your next house. B

Rated PG for some action, language and rude/suggestive humor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 49%
Available on Disc, HBO Max and Paid Streaming

Rather than continue the franchise in live-action, Scooby-Doo goes computer-animated in this new adventure that was bound for theaters until Covid killed its doggy dreams. Released first only on paid streaming, the film quickly made its way to the new HBO streaming service and now on disc. The opening gives a sweet little origin story before setting up its main mystery, which revolves around a dastardly bad guy, an army of robot scorpions and the learning of Scooby’s secret legacy and relationship to Alexander the Great. Quite honestly, none of it makes sense and by the end you feel like you just watched a prettier and slightly longer episode of the original show. But Warner Bros. pulled out all the stops with a killer cast including Will Forte, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs, Zac Efron and Amanda Seyfried, all of whose talents were completely wasted on the silly material. The film seems to be built simply for young kids who need a time killer or a 90-minute baby sitter. C-

Summer of Spielberg: Week Eight
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: 72%
Available on paid streaming

Spielberg’s latest theatrical outing is 2018’s Ready Player One, based on the best-selling sci-fi novel by Ernest Cline. Set in the near-enough future, the movie tells the story of a world that lives in their Alternate Reality game called the Oasis, which has consumed every aspect of modern life. The rationale for this all-consuming madness is that the creator and CEO, upon his death, left a challenge for its players with the gift of the entire company to the person who wins it. But when a young kid and his friends start to uncover the challenge’s mysteries, a sinister corporate organization, led by the amazingly evil and smarmy Ben Mendelsohn, tries to stop them at all costs. As someone who loved the book, I was super excited to see this film hit theaters, even though I was worried about it not living up to its expectations. But it turned out that hiring the novelist to write the screenplay was the perfect idea as he kept the books spirit while completely freshening up, and even changing, the plot points. And while the movie wasn’t just an 80’s nostalgia story any longer, the changes manage to thrill and excite in the same way. Notably missing here is a score by John Williams, but in its place is music by Oscar-winner Alan Silvestri (Forrest Gump, Back to the Future) which is one of the best substitutes you can hope for. Only a modest hit in the U.S., it was a monster overseas, pulling in one of the biggest box offices of 2018. And while it is fairly kid-friendly (they do throw in a completely unnecessary yet funny F-bomb) the film is a blast to watch with older children and teens, but just be prepared to pause the film at times to explain the references and nostalgia, and lovingly annoy them a little in the process.

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of July 13, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of July 13, 2020

The Old Guard
Rated R for sequences of graphic violence, and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
Available on Netflix

Netflix’s newest big budget movie stars Charlize Theron as a modern-day warrior who leads a small group of mercenaries, with a strange inability to die, on a revenge mission after they are double-crossed on a rescue assignment. Based on the comics by Greg Rucka (who also wrote the screenplay) and directed by Love and Basketball’s Gina Prince-Bythewood, the film has some pretty fantastic action sequences with an interesting enough storyline. But at over two hours, the film feels like an extra-long origin episode to one of its series, and not like an actual feature film. Yes it was built for Netflix, but many of their films could easily be at home in a theater, and this one doesn’t fit that description. And while Theron does add some heft to the project, the material almost seems beneath her. In the end, I’m interested in what happens to this franchise, but I fear I may not remember it by the time I get to find out. B-

Summer of Spielberg: Week Seven
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Rated PG-13 for some sexual content and violent images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

Available on ShowtimeAnytime or paid streaming
One of Spielberg’s most under-appreciated films was this sci-fi take on Pinocchio which follows a young mother (Frances O’Connor) who, upon her biological son going into a coma, adopts a young “mecha” boy named David (Haley Joel Osment) in order to give her the love she so desperately misses from her actual son. But when her son comes back into her life, and her new robot son begins to interrupt her world, she sets him free into the universe where he begins to pursue his adventure to try to become a real boy. The project originated from legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, who apparently had issues with his own ability to make the story work. But he enjoyed Spielberg’s previous pictures and, as legend tells it, allowed him to take it over in order to breathe life into it. During their collaboration, Kubrick tragically died, but you can see his spirit throughout the film, and while the brushstrokes are definitely Spielberg, the canvas is most assuredly Kubrick. As typical, the gorgeous Oscar-nominated score by John Williams provides an operatic wind beneath the film’s wings. But surprisingly, the film only took in a modest box office and was met with a thud come awards season. But in my opinion, the movie was way ahead of its time, and if you either haven’t seen it yet, or if you didn’t like it that much the first go around, I challenge you to take it in now. Like a good wine, the film has aged incredibly well and tastes much better than it did 19 years ago.

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

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of July 6, 2020

Rated PG-13 for war-related action/violence and brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74% at time of writing
Available on Apple TV+

Tom Hanks writes and stars in this fast-paced WWII picture about a U.S. destroyer captain in charge of a large convoy of ships crossing the Atlantic under the threat of a pack of Nazi U-boats. With very little in the way of character development, Hanks jumps into action in what appears to be a very realistic look at naval life during the Battle of the Atlantic. If you are looking for an experience like Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers – you won’t find it here. But if you want to feel the pressure of trying to stay alive one more day so that you can complete your mission – this one is quite a historical thrill ride. Originally set for a June theatrical opening, Sony chose to sell the property to Apple rather than shelving it. Personally, I’m thankful for that as it’s a great little war film that might have been better on a big screen, but will find a nice place in home theaters as well. The most fascinating aspect of the film isn’t its historical accuracy and attention to detail, which are both impressive, but rather that they chose to make it so short, leaving out many of the things that would normally go into a story such as this. And what they did leave in, like the few minutes spent with his sweetheart, played by Elisabeth Shue, felt overly abbreviated and even unnecessary. At about ninety minutes, the film literally flies by, making it an easy enough watch, even if it doesn’t deliver the powerhouse performance you would expect from the legendary actor. The film feels like a labor of love, which isn’t a bad thing. B-

Summer of Spielberg: Week Six
Rated PG for adult situations/language, violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%
Available on Netflix

While officially directed by Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper, this 1982 horror flick was written, produced and, according to people associated with the project, practically directed by Spielberg. Set in a peaceful new housing development, things turn for the worse when an evil force sucks a young family’s daughter into their television, forcing them to get next level help in order to get her back. Having not seen the film in quite a while, I was mesmerized all over again upon recently revisiting. The movie didn’t scare me as much as before, but then again I knew what was going to happen. I was surprised that the kids didn’t enjoy it as much as I was hoping, but with visual effect that you could tell were from the 80’s, its a bit of a stretch when you are used to everything looking so real using today’s capabilities. But in my head this film looks great and still gives me the chills I remember from my childhood.

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of June 29, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of June 29, 2020

Rated PG-13 for language and some suggestive material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100% at time of writing
Available on Disney+

In 2015, Lin-Manuel Miranda made Broadway history with this hip hop musical about the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton. Since it’s premier, it has gone on to become the most successful Broadway show of all time, both critically and financially, and while COVID-19 has slowed it down for now, up until March it was still selling out every show in New York and on tour with third-party tickets going for hundreds of dollars for bad seats and thousands for the good ones. Personally, I have seen it three times, once with the original cast, and I will freely admit that it is worth every penny and I would spend it again gladly when given the opportunity. In June of 2016 they decided to film the original cast over a period of several days, in the hope of releasing it in theaters. But the newish streaming app Disney+ wanted content and subsequently made a deal to launch this Fourth of July weekend, allowing the world to experience what life is like sitting on the front row of this epic show. And while there is nothing like the joy of seeing it live, this particular version is breathtakingly spectacular and captivating, allowing you to take in all of its greatness and raw emotion without having to take out a second mortgage on your home. It’s everything I was hoping it would be and quite honestly a generous gift to the starving patrons of live theater in need of some inspiration and pure pleasure. And for those of you who just can’t understand why the show has so many rabid fans – you are about to find out. A+

Summer of Spielberg: Week Five
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Rated PG (before PG-13 came to be)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
Available on Netflix and paid streaming

In 1981, with a couple of hits under his belt, Stephen Spielberg knocked it out of the park with this mega hit, which he says was inspired deeply by the 1948 Bogart classic The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. When Tom Selleck was forced to drop out as the infamous Indiana Jones due to his conflicting Magnum P.I. scheduling, Spielberg and fellow creator George Lucas went to Harrison Ford, hot off his role of Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back, thus solidifying his name as arguably the greatest action/adventure star of the twentieth century. Here, the hero is sent by the government to try to discover and procure the lost Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis can get their hands on it. Loaded with almost non-stop action and an incredible script by Empire writer Lawrence Kasdan, it’s just a marvelous motion picture that is a blast to watch, no matter how many times you’ve seen it. And as someone who just watched it with a room full of first-time young viewers, I can attest that it still has a magnetic pull for the kids, even if it is as old or older than most of their parents.