Popcorn Perspectives – Week of December 3, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of December 3, 2018

Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Rated PG-13 for violence and intense sequences of action, and for brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Available on disc and streaming
Tom Cruise is back again as Ethan Hunt as his IMF team is assigned to another deadly mission to save the world, this time from possible nuclear annihilation. While all of the previous 5 films have been strong in the action and plot department, this one seems to be especially on-point with another confusing-yet-fun script, humongous set pieces and some of the most spectacular stunts you’ve ever seen. The special features on the disc showcase the literally death-defying work by Cruise as well as the film’s focus on its beautiful backdrop of Paris. I’m still not a fan of Cruise, mainly due to his crazy off-screen personality, but once again he impresses me as an actor who does everything he possibly can to earn his impossible-sized paychecks. A-

The Nun
Rated R for terror, violence, and disturbing/bloody images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 27%
Available on disc and streaming
When the nun scared the daylights out of us in The Conjuring 2 (a well-respected box-office hit) it was a given that the studio would want to milk the nun for all she is worth, just like they had with the doll Annabelle from the first Conjuring. Here we get the origin story as the Vatican sends investigators to an Abbey in Romania where a young nun has taken her own life. Just as in the other spinoffs, the writing isn’t nearly as good as the stories lack the authenticity that the Conjuring franchise has blessed us with. The acting here is better than expected with Oscar-nominee Demian Bichir as Father Burke, but the film relies on stupid jumps and unnecessary carnage. There is little here to actually haunt your dreams, but lots to annoy you for wasting 90 minutes. C-

The Happytime Murders
Rated R for strong crude and sexual content and language throughout, and some drug material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%
Available on disc and streaming
When I first heard that Jim Henson’s son Brian Henson was making an R-rated muppet movie with Melissa McCarthy, I have to admit that I was very excited. These kinds of projects can be creative and fun and I had a very open mind. The story takes place in a world where man and puppet coexist, and when a series of heinous murders takes place, two cops – one puppet and one human (McCarthy) have to team up to solve it. Unfortunately the film just doesn’t work as a comedy, which is the only thing that could have saved it. It relies on a disgusting and degrading sense of humor that only on occasion can be misconstrued as clever. It’s such a shame that a great idea like this, as well as a talented cast of humans and creatures, was put to such a waste. McCarthy has since rescued her career with what will likely be an Oscar-nominated turn in “Can You Ever Forgive Me,” but hopefully irreparable damage hasn’t been done to the Hansen name and brand. D+

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of November 19, 2018

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of November 19, 2018

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Rated PG-13 for some sequences of fantasy action
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 44%
In Theaters
What started out as a side story for the Harry Potter series has taken on a life of its own in this second film of the Fantastic Beasts franchise. In this new adventure, the infamous pre-Voldemort baddie Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has escaped from Azkaban Prison in the hope of going to war with the muggle world. Meanwhile, Newt Scamander and a younger Albus Dumbledore (Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law respectively) are doing everything in their power to stop him. I am impressed with the storytelling and ambition on display here, especially since it came under the guise of much more frivolous pretenses. And as you’d expect, the production values are top notch as the special effects keep improving and the imagination has stayed true to the original Potter vision. What sadly lacks here is energy. While it is directed by David Yates, who is on his sixth Harry Potter film here, and the screenplay is written by JK Rowling herself, the film has humongous pacing problems throughout and at times is just plain boring. I would still recommend it to fans as it will prove to be a necessary piece of the overall puzzle of its universe, but it’s certainly one of the least impressive films from this franchise so far. C+

Crazy Rich Asians
Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Available on Disc and Streaming
I love a good romantic comedy (there are so few these days) so I was excited and surprised when this Asian romcom hit theaters this summer. Based on the best-selling books by Kevin Kwan, it follows a young NYU professor who finds out that her new fiancé comes from a super rich family in Singapore who is determined to break up their relationship once they travel there. With a clever screenplay that keeps you on your toes and an absolutely hysterical supporting cast, the movie turns out to be a winner on all levels. I’m not sure if the planned sequels will be able to churn out this much joy, but I’m glad to have this one for now. A

The Meg
Rated PG-13 for action/peril, bloody images and some language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 45%
Available on Disc and Streaming
When the world’s greatest deep-sea diver (Jason Statham) is hired to rescue the crew of a submersible at the bottom of the Mariana trench, they come under attack, and allow the escape of, the thought-to-be-extinct 75 foot Megalodon shark, who just can’t wait to eat the oceans full of people. This is a true guilty pleasure with very little in the way of horror and only mild thrills to be found. The special effects are pretty cheesy but the actors pull it off, even when you can tell they hate being on set, which is apparently the case with Statham according to his rantings after the film’s theatrical release. That being said, The Meg turns in a mindless yet somewhat fun adventure. You won’t regret wasting your time on it but you certainly won’t consider two hours well-spent either. C