Popcorn Perspectives – Week of May 20, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of May 20, 2019

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Rated PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This final picture in the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy follows Hiccup and the village of Berk as they attempt to find a secret and safe world for their dragon friends when a new and ominous force threatens their very existence. Writer/director Dean DeBlois has been consistent with this franchise since its beginning nearly a decade ago. The characters have remained lovable and well-crafted and the stories have remained interesting and enjoyable, for both kids and adults. This new creation is no different. As Hiccup and his friends enter adult-hood, we have gotten to watch them grow and mature as we fully empathize with their plight. If I have one major criticism it is in their choice of Grimmel as the new villain. While I love that he came with a female Light Fury, I thought he was no more menacing than some of their other adversaries from the movies and Netflix animated series. But at the end of the day, the film proves to be a worthy addition and finale to what has been a terrific set of films from Dreamworks. A-

The Upside
Rated PG-13 for suggestive content and drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 40%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Based on the much-beloved French film The Intouchables (currently ranked #40 on the list of IMDB’s Top Rated Movies), Kevin Hart plays a recently paroled ex-convict who becomes the live-in assistant to Bryan Cranston’s paralyzed billionaire. Since it is such a remarkable true story, there is a lot to appreciate here. Cranston and Hart are both completely believable in their roles and their overall chemistry is solid. Where the film goes south is in the screenplay and directing, where both seem to struggle with story and pacing. The film falls apart, then comes together, then falls apart again over and over. It relies on some great little moments between the two characters, but those moments can’t hold the movie together. Ultimately, the film proves to be a pale comparison to its 2012 French counterpart. C

Les Miserables
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Available on Disc and Streaming

While many movies and even a mega-hit Broadway musical have tackled the subject matter of Victor Hugo’s story of criminal-turned-hero Jean Valjean, none until now have been able to capture the spirit of the 1862 novel in such a complete manner. The main problem is there is only so much you can put into a two to three-hour movie when there is so much content to cover. While this new PBS/BBC Masterpiece production still misses some key elements, it beautifully covers the original material over six lushly-produced one-hour episodes. In the leading roles are Dominic West as Jean Valjean, Lily Collins as Fantine, recent Oscar-winner Olivia Colman as Madame Thenardier and David Oyelowo as Inspector Javert. Each does a magnificent job bringing their characters to life and adding to their part of one of the greatest stories ever written. Of exceptional note is Adeel Akhtar as Monsieur Thenardier, whose evil presence looms menacingly over the production. While it has been 30 years since I first read the book, it still remains my favorite, and this new television series truly does it justice. A+