Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of September 24, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of September 24, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 70%
Available on Disc and Streaming
With the success of Rogue One, Disney had big plans with expanding the Star Wars universe by telling back stories that exist outside of the official saga. That is until now. While it made almost $400 million at the worldwide box office, that is a failure when the studio is expecting at least a billion. But I would contend that this is a film worth watching. Going back to Han Solo’s origin story, the very competent but relatively unknown Alden Ehrenreich does an admirable job in the title role, and adding some credible star power are Donald Glover (as the scene stealing Lando), Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton and Paul Bettany. They even got Ron Howard to take over as director when the original directors couldn’t cut it. While it’s a bit cheesy at times, this is a well-made action film with a fun personality. It has its little problems, but they are easy to overlook when viewing the bigger picture. I think its a shame it didn’t find a wider audience, but I would imagine with this release, it will pick up a larger fan base than it did in theaters. B+

Uncle Drew
Rated PG-13 for suggestive material, language and brief nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62%
Available on Disc and Streaming
Lil Rel Howery (doing his best Kevin Hart impression) plays a height-challenged basketball fan who dreams of coaching a championship street ball team. Just when his life falls apart, he discovers a rowdy gang of elderly players (Kyrie Irving, Shaquille O’Neal, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson and Chris Webber) who join up with him to take on the young kids who think they own the game. While some of the jokes don’t hit, and many are fairly mean, once the pros hit the court, the film takes off with a good sense of humor and a fast pace. You could tell there was a lot of fun had by the cast and that chemistry creates a strong likability. It’s certainly not a great film, but it has its moments and its charm. Aside from a little innuendo and language, this actually turns out to be a decent family film with a strong message for kids: you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. And to my surprise, by the end it turns out to be a decently entertaining film. B-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of September 17, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of September 17, 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 49%
Available on Disc and Streaming
Since the events of 2015’s smash hit retread Jurassic World, Isla Nubar has been left abandoned until Owen and Claire (Christ Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard) are tricked into going back to rescue a few dinosaurs before a giant volcano consumes every last one. But once the dinosaurs are off the island, a sinister plan unfolds that only Owen and Claire can foil. While the story on Jurassic World wasn’t that great before, Chris Pratt brought the film up a huge notch, but unfortunately here he couldn’t save it. Here the story is embarrassingly bad and with Chris just phoning in his part, the film turns out to be mostly just a disappointment. Sure the special effects are great and there is some terrific action and even a few funny jokes. But by the end this project seems like nothing more than a money grab. It’s certainly not a story that was dying to be told. C+

Ozark: Season Two
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%
Available on Netflix
Lately we’ve had a drought in notable home entertainment releases, which is great for me since it allows me to jump into some exciting new Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime shows. The one I was most excited about was Season 2 of Ozark. It is still my opinion that Ozark Season One is the best show Netflix has released to date. In case you didn’t watch the first season, Ozark follows an accountant (Jason Bateman) who is left standing as the only living person in his firm when a Mexican drug cartel finds out they were stealing money. He manages to outwit his predators one day at a time by convincing them that he can take his wife (Laura Linney) and young family to the Lake of the Ozarks where he can easily launder millions of dollars for them. But of course things go wrong, over and over, leaving us with one heck of a cliffhanger that finally resolves in season two. Here Bateman and Linney must use their skills to stay alive a little bit longer while working with the cartel and the local heroine growers, hoping to build a casino until they can launch their escape plan. It’s a complicated mess that leaves you feeling dirty while constantly looking over your shoulder. The second season isn’t as frightening, but the writing and acting are strong as you watch Bateman and Linney go from being victims to crimelords. It is more than apparent that they are aiming for a Breaking Bad vibe, with an almost parallel trajectory, but it is a fun watch to tear through, even with a few faults here and there. A-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – September 10, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of September 10, 2018

Ocean’s 8
Rated PG-13 for language, drug use, and some suggestive content
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%
Available on Disc and Streaming
So apparently George Clooney’s character from the other Oceans’ films has died, and his sister, played by Sandra Bullock, is fresh out of jail and ready to take on a huge diamond heist. Along with her seven cohorts, including Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling and Rihanna, the all-female team attempts to steal a $150 million necklace off of the neck of a big Hollywood actress, played by Anne Hathaway. There’s a lot to like about the new film and it has much of the same personality of its male cohort with some interesting characters and a clever sense of humor. The biggest disappointment is how convenient and easy the whole thing ends up being. The almost complete lack of danger and tension also leads to a lack of fun. When nothing goes wrong, or at least next to nothing, its more difficult to appreciate the conquest. And at the end of the day, the project turns out to be an average attempt to entertain. C+

The Tree of Life: The Criterion Collection
Rated PG-13 for some thematic material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%
Available on Disc and Streaming
One of my favorite films of the last 10 years is getting this huge Criterion facelift as director Terrence Malick delivers almost an extra hour of material in this new extended edition. While it was well-received by critics and even won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, it was met with very mixed results by an American audience, much of whom just didn’t understand it. And I’ll admit that its a tough film to comprehend and a lot of thought must go into it. It’s not an easy night at the movies. The story can only be described as a look at God’s complex relationship with humans, as told from a young family in a small Texas Town. Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain and Sean Penn head up the cast and Houston is very prominently featured. The film is the epitome of artsy as it is more poem and aesthetic beauty than compelling narrative, but the film’s nature is what makes it special and an almost ethereal experience for those who are willing to put the effort into it. The new material does give the movie a very different feel as you take a deeper dive into the lives of the young children and the experiences that have created their strongest memories. Aside from the new cut, the film has some great new features including interviews with Jessica Chastain and the visual-effects supervisor Dan Glass. But noticeably missing is a director’s commentary from Malick, which still saddens me with its absence. A+

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of September 3, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of September 3, 2018

Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%
Available on Disc and Streaming
This incredibly successful documentary follows the life of Fred Rogers, the creator and star of the hit children’s show Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood, a show that ran for decades and left a positive impact on pretty much everyone who ever watched it. In the very cynical world we live in, it’s a breath of fresh air to sit back and appreciate the life of such a good man whose heart was truly in the right place, where hardly a misstep was taken. The film is made up of interviews with the people who knew him best, along with many of his greatest television moments, and you get the honest sense that his life was truly spent in the service of others and those who knew him were even luckier than the folks like me who just grew up watching him. When I was a child, I didn’t even realize he was trying to explore adult issues in order to help me grow up to be a better person. To me he was just educational entertainment that I loved to watch. But that’s the magic and the brilliance behind this legendary figure for whom I now have an extraordinary respect for. A

Rated R for disturbing content, language and some sexuality
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
Available on Disc and Streaming
This low-budget but well-received British indie follows a young girl who wants to escape from her family but can’t seem to find the courage. But when she meets a young loner and falls in love, her dreams of escape are bashed when he is arrested as the leading suspect wanted for a series of grisly murders. What makes the film so intriguing is that it is hard to get ahold of. It starts out like a forbidden romance but moves into thriller territory, only to confuse you into thinking you might have it wrong. The leading couple are atypical but talented leading actors, which only adds to the mystique. I wouldn’t say that it’s a film for everyone, but it certainly is a decent little indie for folks who love to explore the stranger and darker side of cinema. B+

Rated R for horror violence, disturbing images, language, drug use and brief graphic nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
Available on Disc and Streaming
This indie horror/drama follows a truly messed-up family that undergoes an extreme tragedy which puts their life through a horrific nightmare. Thanks in part to a phenomenal trailer and a promising cast, the film hit with incredible buzz and even better reviews from press who loved its novelty and creativity. And while the box office was relatively strong compared to its budget, audiences didn’t quite know how to take it. It doesn’t help that you are convinced, before going in, that the story follows a strange-looking girl with mysterious, possibly satanic powers. But then you find out that the film is about her brother and it almost feels like you were sold a bill of goods. Please notice that I’m hardly going to tell you what the film is really about. How’s that for a film review? I would rather tell you that your expectations should be correct, so that you can better enjoy it. Instead of thinking you are about to see a film that will scare you out of your wits, you should expect to experience a psychological thriller that will creep you out more than it elevates your heart rate. It’s not a frightmare masterpiece as most critics have exclaimed, but it is a genre pic worth checking out. B