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+