Poprcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of December 16, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of December 16, 2019

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action
In Theaters

This ninth and final chapter in the Star Wars saga as we know it follows our heroes Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewbacca, C-3P0 and BB8 as they attempt to stop Kylo Ren as well the returned Emperor Palpatine from crushing the rebellion and taking over the entirety of the universe. From the opening moments of the film we discover that Palpatine is not only back, but that he also never went away – he has always been there propping up the dark side from behind the scenes. This little tidbit, and the only major plot point I will give away here, sets a new tone for the adventure as the audience and the heroes simultaneously learn the secrets which Lucasfilm and Disney have been hiding from us since The Force Awakens was released in 2015. There is a lot to like in this monstrosity of a film. First, I loved that our main heroes are all together for their final journey. I hated seeing them split apart in the last film’s convoluted story and failed subplots. Here, the adventure seems better constructed, more dangerous, and as thrilling as you can imagine. Where the film falters a bit is in the overuse of side stories and a running time not able to support them. Where most films would feel overly long at 155 minutes, I would have easily welcomed 180 if it meant that the multitude of important stories were all more carefully crafted and the pacing provided enough time to understand them. This project felt truly rushed throughout. I’m sure with tons of conversations and multiple viewings, I will have this film down; but upon first watch, there are moments when I was truly scratching my head. That being said, we get closure here in the right way, honoring both the characters we have grown up to love and the audience that cares deeply about them. A-

Downton Abbey
Rated PG for thematic elements, some suggestive material, and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Set after the events of the much-beloved PBS television series, the owners and staff of the beautiful English estate Downton Abbey discover that they will be granted a royal visit from the King and Queen, forcing them to prepare for perfection, and then play dirty in order to get the chance to avoid being sidelined and serve the royals to the best of their ability. If you haven’t seen the show, this might be a tough one and frankly not very interesting for you. But for fans, which there are many, there is a lot of joy to be had here as you get to revisit old friends and watch them show you why you fell in love in the first place. That being said, I’d like to give this film two grades. For fans and familiars: A; for non-fans: C

Rated PG for some action and mild humor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%
Available on Disc and Streaming

In the last year, Hollywood has released three animated films about yetis, and with this newest Dreamworks release, we finally get the last of them. In this tale, a young girl from Shanghai discovers a yeti, and, along with her friends, decide to escort the creature back to his home in the mountains. Setting this film apart is that the yeti has powerful magical abilities that can transform the physical world around him. The movie has an undoubtedly beautiful aesthetic and the story is, at the very least, creative. What gets old quickly is that the movie tries desperately to be like Kubo and the Two Strings and it simply didn’t need to be. The music is nice, but it gets in the way of the narrative rather than enhancing it. C+

Ad Astra
Rated PG-13 for some violence and bloody images, and for brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Brad Pitt plays an astronaut from the not so distant future who is sent on a top secret mission to the outer regions of the solar system when the government is convinced that his father and fellow astronaut, Tommy Lee Jones, is causing massive destruction on Earth from his actions in space. The film has some remarkable special effects and its subject is taken seriously, but ultimately the miscasting of Pitt and Jones make the film a tough sell. Both are fantastic actors (Pitt will almost surely win the Oscar this year for Once Upon a Time In Hollywood), but these actors needed to bring a bigger emotional pull to their characters that I don’t think they are capable of. Still, I loved the ambition of the film and the set pieces are some of the most impressive of the year. So I think it is a film worth watching, but one that could have been so much better. B-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of December 9, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of December 9, 2019

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Rated R for language throughout, some strong graphic violence, drug use, and sexual references
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%
Available on Disc and Streaming

One of the big films to beat this awards season is Quentin Tarantino’s 9th movie which explores 1969 Hollywood, and chiefly gives a new spin to what we know about the Manson murders. The film follows a popular star, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who spends most of his time with his friend and stunt man, Brad Pitt, as he tries to cling on to whatever success he can muster up. The story is wildly all over the place, but when it comes together at the end, it does so in such a beautiful manner that it leaves you with a fantastic experience. It’s like a crazy recipe with ingredients that shouldn’t mix, providing an unbelievable and unforgettable meal. DiCaprio is at the top of his game here in the lead, but Brad Pitt steals the show in a role that is almost certain to win him an Oscar for best supporting actor. There are many who had problems with the last act due to its complete lack of historical accuracy, but I love the brave and brilliant approach Tarantino takes and found myself having way more fun than I signed up for. After all, I went in thinking this was a movie about the Manson family and left smiling after a barrage of hysterical comedy and thrilling surprises. This is certainly one of QT’s best projects to date and one he will be known for for decades to come. A+

Rated NR for violence and some language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This indie horror sci-fi film follows a young girl who has been locked inside of her house, protected by her father (Emile Hirsch), who has never allowed her to step outside. But as you journey into the story, you discover that the father is not just paranoid, but rather the outside world isn’t what it seems and deadly dangers lurk everywhere. What starts out as just weird tale full of paranoia, turns into a slick and unique little sci-fi pic. Helping the project is the talented cast including Hirsch and Bruce Dern who both elevate the project into being extremely watchable for those fans of the genre. The story is a bit hard to follow, but it is certainly engaging and interesting, even if its peculiarities abound. B-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of December 2, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of December 2, 2019

Dark Waters
Rated PG-13 for thematic content, some disturbing images and strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
In Theaters

In Mark Ruffalo’s second and unrelated film about fighting du Pont (recall 2014’s Foxcatcher), Mark plays a lawyer who takes on the du Pont organization after he discovers that their pan coating product Teflon was having deadly effects, especially on the families that lived near the production facility. Truly a David vs Goliath story, these types of tales are important for public consumption as they teach us many lessons while entertaining us, namely that they prove that corporations do not always police themselves and, much of the time, do what is best for the corporation without any regard to who is hurt along the way. The movie, through a heavy-handed one-sided approach attacks du Pont like a bulldog and while history proves that they deserve this treatment, the script could have been a little less overzealous. At times the film feels like a strong and heavy drama, and at others it begins to feel like a television movie of the week. And while Ruffalo’s performance is pitch perfect, much of the talented cast, including Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins and Victor Garber seem off their game. Still, I think this is a worth-while film to watch with a great lesson that needs to be reflected upon as our corporations become more and more powerful with very little oversight due to the too-frequent deregulations we have been exposed to over the last several years. B-

Ready or Not
Rated R for violence, bloody images, language throughout, and some drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Certainly up there with the recent release Crawl in regards to guilty pleasures of the year is this relatively low-budget horror film about a young girl who marries into an eccentric family only to find out that on her wedding night she must play a game of hide and go seek, where if they find her, they kill her.  The movie doesn’t pretend to be anything but what it is, but by the end it is glorious fun as you watch the street smart young beauty turn the tides on her captors.  It has a warped sense of humor with plenty of over-the-top performances by its talented cast.  B+
Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Rated PG-13 for some strong language and drug material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 49%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Richard Linklater’s latest follows Cate Blanchett as an eccentric architect who has lost her creative spark as she meanders about her life with her family in suburban Seattle. But upon a series of crazy and unfortunate events, she goes on a crazy journey to hopefully bring her back to life again.  Quite honestly I was a little bored with much of the film, which is ironic given the story, but the tale has such a fun and inspiring ending that I found myself glad I made it through.  The performances are all very good and I still have a love for Linklater’s story-crafting.  While not one of his best, it is one worth watching.  B
Game of Thrones: Season Eight
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Game of Thrones had a full head of steam on it heading into its eighth and final season, but the last two episodes made everyone so angry that unfortunately it has a bit of a black eye right now.  Sure I would have loved to have seen a different turn of events.  I had an ending in my head that would have made the series go out in a glorious blaze of glory.  But they didn’t ask me, or you, and instead gave the show a finale, even if it wasn’t the one it deserved.  Still, there are moments to love in this final season, such as the breathtaking “The Long Night” which might be a great place to stop watching the show if you haven’t been through it already by now.  B-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of November 18, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of November 18, 2019

Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Rated PG for action and some impolite humor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%
Available on Disc and Streaming

I have always went out of my way to avoid the Dora animated series when my son used to watch it, so I wasn’t exactly thrilled to see this live-action recreation. But the positive reviews and cast had my interest peaked at least. Here Dora leaves the jungle to live with relatives in the city and go to a real high school, when kidnappers steal her and her friends, taking them back to the jungle, forcing them into a perilous adventure. So I am proof that you don’t have to be a fan of the show to like the movie, and I am thankful for that. While the story is predictable, the self-effacing nature of the project, as well as a few well-crafted jokes here and there, make the movie at least entertaining enough that you don’t have to leave the room when the kids watch it. It’s certainly not the best family film of the year, but it is quite aDORAble. B-

Blinded By the Light
Rated PG-13 for thematic material and language including some ethnic slurs
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

With a similar tone to the recent Beatles spin Yesterday, Blinded by the Light follows the apparent true story of a young Pakistani student from England whose life changes forever when he discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen. While his family struggles with money and extreme racism, Springsteen, through the music, helps him cope and attempt to find a way out in order to find his own voice through his writing and actions. The film’s biggest problem is it’s over-the-top sentimentality concerning the music. To me, this became a huge obstacle in getting anything out of it. By half-way through I was already tired of how much this guys worships The Boss. I was neither entertained nor inspired. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never been a Bruce fan and therefore I wasn’t able to properly connect. But really I think it’s because the film’s infatuation with the music made the storytelling come off as completely contrived. C

Dolemite is My Name
Rated R for some sexuality, full nudity and brief language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Streaming on Netflix

Eddie Murphy is back and bigger than ever in this biopic of Rudy Ray Moore, a struggling comedian who invents an urban foul-mouthed phenomenon named Dolemite and wants to put all of his money and credibility on the line to bring his creation to the big screen in a movie that would go on to change the Blaxploitation genre forever. What could have been just a racy comedy turns out to be surprisingly moving as Murphy manages to add a complexity to Moore that you don’t see coming. And to add fuel to the fire is a tremendous cast including Wesley Snipes, Keegan-Michael Key and a star-making performance from Da’Vine Joy Randolph, whose name I will predict will be on the shortlist for best-supporting actress come years end. The result is an extremely funny adult comedy with a heart of gold that will win over anyone willing to commit the time to watch it. A

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of November 12, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton
Week of November 12, 2019

The Irishman
Rated R for pervasive language and strong violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%
In Theaters; Streaming on Netflix November 27

In Martin Scorsese’s latest epic mob film, Robert De Niro plays Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, an Army veteran who starts with the Teamsters, moves his way up through the mafia (with the help of his friend and mob boss Joe Pesci, to eventually find himself working as the right-hand man for famed Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). Throughout decades of stories, we see the arc of Sheeran from a young man to his dying days. From day one, this was a controversial film, but not for the reasons you may think. First off, Scorsese, instead of using younger actors to play Sheeran and Hoffa, chose to have Industrial Light and Magic digitize their faces to look the appropriate ages. Secondly, the film was made by Netflix rather than a big studio, largely because Netflix volunteered to foot the reported $200 million dollar budget to make it, without flinching at the three and a half hour running time. My only qualms come from both of these things. While the faces looked good, both of these actors had old-man bodies and movements. When De Niro is involved with anything physical (i.e. fighting or throwing guns in the river), it looks like an arthritic, older man with a young man’s face. Also, the running time is long for a theatrical viewing. I enjoyed the film immensely, but my bladder felt otherwise. This might be the perfect reason to watch on Netflix, in a home theater, as you can pause it anytime you like for a bio break. Aside from these two items, the film more than makes up for it in storytelling and acting. The performances from the plethora of amazing actors are tremendous. I can easily see De Niro and Pacino being seriously talked about for Oscar wins and Pesci could sneak in as well for his understated performance. Also, the screenplay by Steve Zaillian (Schindler’s List) is just brilliant. There is so much dialog, that on the outside seems like empty time-filler, but in reality creates a deep dive into the characters and the actions about to happen. And then of course there is Scorsese who is at the top of his game in regards to directing the story. I am going to guess that the same two problems mentioned here will come up in conversations about the film, but this ultimately should not take away from this monumentally epic film. A

The Peanut Butter Falcon
Rated PG-13 for thematic content, language throughout, some violence and smoking
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
Available on disc and streaming

A young man with Down syndrome escapes from his nursing home in order to become a professional wrestler, and on the way befriends a criminal with a heart of gold (Shia LaBeouf) as they try to help him accomplish his dream. Like a modern-day Tom Sawyer, the story is absolutely fascinating with many nice surprises throughout. Making the film sing is the terrific cast including LaBeouf, newcomer Zack Gottsagen and Dakota Johnson. A-

The Angry Birds Movie 2
Rated PG for rude humor and action
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%
Available on Disc and Streaming

While I absolutely hated the first Angry Birds movie, I heard decent things about this new one, so I went in with an open mind. The story finds the birds and pigs in the need to team up to take on a newly-discovered third island, ruled by an Eagle who wants to kill them all and take their land. While not nearly as bad as the first film, this one is far from good and will still, more-than-likely, be a movie you let you kids watch on their own. I think I chuckled three times, which I admit is an improvement, but I never want to be in the same room with it again. C

Spirited Away: Collector’s Edition
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

This much beloved Oscar-winning animated film from the legendary Hayao Miyazaki is getting a nice repackaging this week with this new set including blu-ray, cd soundtrack by Joe Hasaishi and a new rather thick booklet. The story follows a young girl swept away into a weird fantasy world after her parents are turned into pigs. It’s a bizarre universe that will appeal to your eyes, ears and heart as you wander through her Alice in Wonderland-like journey. And for those like me who are in to movie music, this score is one of the best in recent years. A

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of October 28, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of October 28, 2019

Terminator: Dark Fate
Rated R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67% at time of writing
In Theaters

The beauty of the Terminator franchise is that with time travel, none of the storylines are set in stone, creating the freedom to build new stories whenever and wherever they want. This new edition, produced by James Cameron and directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool) starts off where T2 left off, beginning with the revelation that a new terminator kills young John Connor in Mexico right after the events of that story. Now decades later, Sarah Connor travels around Mexico killing new terminators as they arise, when she comes across an enhanced human (Mackenzie Davis) protecting a new person (Natalia Reyes), who plays some important part in the future of mankind, from a seemingly invincible terminator called a Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna). There is a lot to like in this new adventure, including huge set pieces and non-stop action, as well as the return of Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It also has a great sense of humor and social/political relevance as it dives into our country’s immigration issues as the heroes try to cross the border into the U.S. If you can turn your brain off long enough, you will really enjoy the fun and the creativity on display. What bothered me was all of the things that didn’t make sense, like an aging, bearded terminator robot, the lack of tools necessary to kill even an older model robot, and the improvised third act at the dam which they would like to make you think they planned on all along. Still, the special effects were as fantastic as you would think they would be and you can have a good time watching it. It blows my mind that they would have waited until now to release the film, as this would have made the perfect summer movie in a summer almost completely lacking in them. B

David Crosby: Remember My Name
Rated R for language, drug material and brief nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This documentary follows the life of famed rock star David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, tracing his beginnings in the industry through his struggles with addiction, depression and self-destructive behaviors. Through his sometimes uncomfortable interviews here, the film gives an honest third-party viewpoint while at the same time allowing Crosby to provide his self-examination of the many previous decades. Being that the music was before my time, I only had the songs in my head and not the image of people and events behind those songs, so I personally found the film to be a wonderful Rock history lesson. But the film also works as a psychological investigation into the life of a very interesting man with a sordid past and a great story to tell. B+

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of October 21, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton
Week of October 21, 2019
The Lion King
Rated PG for sequences of violence and peril, and some thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 53%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Disney continues its trend here of recreating its most beloved animated movies into live-action extravaganzas with this creative vision from director John Favreau (The Jungle Book, Iron Man).  Unlike some of Disney’s recent releases such as Dumbo and Aladdin, most of the original here has been left alone in regard to story and song, with just a freshening up by the amazingly talented voice cast including Beyonce Knowles, Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Seth Rogen, with the iconic James Earl Jones returning as the voice of Mufasa.  Personally I can’t understand why the critics panned this one so harshly as I found myself to be thoroughly entertained.  I would have liked the film to have been more closely in tune with the stage production as the added songs there are a fantastic enhancement of the original material, but I’m perfectly happy with this version.  It will never replace the original, but it is a beautifully made facsimile of it.  B+  
Rated R for violence and language throughout, some sexual references and brief graphic nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 42%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This Hollywood retread stars the amazingly funny Kumail Nanjiani as a struggling Uber driver who happens to pick up a cop (Dave Bautista) who drags him along on a violent and dangerous mission.  While there is some good comedy, the suspension of disbelief is really taxing here and the material seems like a step down for Nanjiani, who I would expect to see in much higher-end projects, instead of low-brow and brainless action comedy like this which we’ve seen more times than we are comfortable with.  He tries desperately hard to elevate the film, but ultimately this is just a tired old idea with some new clothes that don’t fit well.  C-
The Art of Self-Defense
Rated R for violence, sexual content, graphic nudity and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This ultra-quirky project stars Jesse Eisenberg as a helpless man whose weakness leaves him the victim of a major crime when a motorcycle gang senselessly beats him within an inch of his life.  In an effort to gain confidence and be able to protect himself from future violent occurrences, he begins to take karate lessons from a peculiar little studio with a group of eclectic students and strange rules.  If you enjoy films by such writers as Yorgos Lanthimos and Charlie Kaufmann, this one is right up your alley.  The world our characters live in looks familiar at first, but you quickly come to the realization that they are in a completely foreign universe as situations escalate.  In this case, I really enjoyed the creativity and nuance on display, and while the film’s dark turn is disturbing and weird, I found it interesting to say the least.  I do wonder if there is deeper meaning to the film as I merely took it at surface level, so there might be future viewings involved should I get in the mood.  B

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of October 7, 2019

Rated R for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%
In Theaters

From Todd Phillips, the mind that brought us The Hangover and Old School, comes this psychological drama about the origin of the The Joker, sans Batman, sort of. Set in what looks like the 70s in Gotham, Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a disturbed young man, suffering from we now know as pseudobulbar affect, a disease that causes its victims episodes of uncontrollable laughter and crying. But after a depressing series of life events and a moment of criminal revenge on a train, he takes on a new persona, creating a chaotic chain reaction through Gotham. At first this film really started to get to me, and I found it to be quite fascinating. I have to admit that it is extremely well-made, but I was quite unhappy with the twists leading to the ending. I would have really liked a frightening villain backstory, but we have here is simply a frightening movie. Personally, films like this make me ill. I would put it in with movies like Taxi Driver and Natural Born Killers, and not only would I rather not see them, I would have preferred they were never made in the first place. I will admit that I was feeling paranoia due to thoughts about the killings in Colorado during Dark Knight, but sitting in the theater watching, I couldn’t help but feel vulnerable and scared due to environmental factors such as people laughing during scenes that just weren’t funny and folks leaving the theater for extended lengths, obviously now just to use the restroom. I became hyper aware of everything around me and I left the theater feeling sick and far from entertained. What should have been a fascinating and riveting movie-going experience, turned into two hours of my life I would not like to repeat. My biggest fear is that films like this set people off, making them cold to the illness and the violence. There was a moment in the film where I thought they might deliver more of a Batman film to us, but the end result turned out to just be a sick, depraved journey I would have rather not taken. F

Rated R for disturbing ritualistic violence and grisly images, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Hot on the heels from his hit horror flick Hereditary, Ari Aster brings us yet another disturbing tale about a group of friends who travel to Sweden to experience the summer ceremonies and rituals of a rural village. Once there, they find themselves both disturbed and intrigued by the events they experience. While the entire film is extremely unsettling, the story is just twisted enough to make you want to be an observer and thankful not to be a participant. I never found myself scared per se, but I was creeped-out effectively. What really struck was the authenticity of the production and the stellar performances by the convincing and brave cast of actors. This one is certainly not for everyone, but this type of horror is much easier to enjoy than the slashers that still pervade theaters. B

Annabelle Comes Home
Rated R for horror violence and terror
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%
Available on Disc and Streaming

I have to admit that I felt a little betrayed by this new film in the Annabelle franchise, mostly because they sold it as a Conjuring film rather than a hybrid. I do love the young actress McKenna Grace, and she does a fine job of carrying the picture about the scariest doll in the universe, but I wanted something more and certainly something deeper. The film takes place as the Warren’s daughter is left home with babysitters, only to get in trouble when one of the girls allows Annabelle out of her protective display case. The relatively young cast does a good enough job and there are a couple of creepy moments, but the authenticity of the first two Conjuring films just doesn’t exist here, and the film suffers from it. In the end it just turns into another Annabelle film, devoid of the promises it gave leading up to it. C+

Anna and the Apocalypse
Rated R for zombie violence and gore, language, and some sexual material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%
Available on Disc and Streaming

In the attempt to create yet another smash up of genres, the team behind this Scottish indie decided on a teenage-zombie-comedy-musical.  Surprisingly, the songs and singers are all high quality, making this experience far better than you would think possible.  Sure the blood and gore get old quickly, but the overall creativity on display wins the day.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this started popping up in small stage live productions once the home audience begins to catch on to it.  B-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of September 30, 2019

Popcorn Perspective with Danny Minton

Week of September 30, 2019

Rated R for bloody creature violence, and brief language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
Available on Disc and Streaming

What seems like a simple plot of Jaws with Alligators turns out to be a fun and rather scary adventure when a young girl (Kaya Scodelario) attempts to rescue her father (Barry Pepper) during a hurricane in rural Florida, only to find that they are trapped by giant Alligators with a taste for humans. At just less than 90 minutes, its like a roller coaster of a film, filmed with plenty of claustrophobia, a decent script, great creature effects and surprisingly good acting by the girl and her father, who share the majority of the screen time with the gators. My chief complaint is that they made it just gory enough to hit an R rating and this would have been so much better, and would have picked up a much larger audience, at PG-13. B

Rated PG-13 for suggestive content and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This great little feel-good pic combines one of my favorite directors (Danny Boyle) with one of my favorite screenwriters (Richard Curtis) and the music of the greatest band in rock history – the Beatles. After a struggling singer-songwriter gets hit by a bus during a blackout, he awakens to discover that the Beatles never existed – and it is now his job to introduce the world to their music. The movie turns out to not just be a love letter to the Fab Four, but also a smart romantic comedy with an incredibly creative plot. I’m not sure why the lower Rotten Tomatoes score exists, but after three viewings now, I am still a great big fan. A

Child’s Play
Rated R for bloody horror violence, and language throughout
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This reboot of the famous 80’s horror franchise follows the escapades of a possessed, murderous doll, powered by modern, interactive technology. Sharing similarities with the plot of AI, the doll is there to take care of its owner, even if that means to destroy all threats, and here Chucky does so in horrific and violent ways. While not as fun or funny as the 1988 original film, the movie does something interesting in that it tries to be relevant, and to a degree it succeeds. It’s not terrifically scary, but it turns out to be better than I thought it could be thanks to this novel approach. Overall, it should make for a good Halloween sleepover flick. B-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of September 16, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of September 16, 2019

Ad Astra
Rated PG-13 for some violence and bloody images, and for brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
In Theaters

In the near future, space exploration and the search for intelligent life has become of paramount importance. After a series of dangerous, life-threatening power surges, the U.S. military sends astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) to send a message to his father (Tommy Lee Jones), who is on a space station near Neptune, when they fear that his father’s mission is responsible for the damage on Earth. From the very beginning, you are treated to some really incredible special effects and sci-fi visions never before seen on film. In fact, the project comes across as tremendously ambitious, with many memorable moments and huge set pieces. So for the pure audacity of the film, I’d have to recommend it. The story is also very strong with a script that keeps you on your toes. Where I would have liked to have seen a change is in the cast. Pitt and Jones are both very, very good – in the right roles. But neither of them excel in emotional parts, and while the characters are both rather coldly written, more emotional fuel is needed here to get us to where we need to go. My eyes and ears appreciated and enjoyed what they were taking in, but my heart was not attached at all. When I think of similar films over the last couple of decades, like Interstellar, Contact and Gravity, that emotional pull made all the difference in the overall quality of the film. Unfortunately, this one turns out to be mostly candy for the senses. B

Dark Phoenix
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action including some gunplay, disturbing images, and brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%
Available on Disc and Streaming

In what is said to be the last X-Men film in its current form, the X-Men head to space for a rescue mission when Jean Grey is hit by a dark cosmic force that slowly corrupts her after she makes it back to the planet. As the group starts to unravel, Jean spirals out of control, allowing an evil Alien presence to try to weaponize her powers. Sure we’ve had a couple mediocre X-Men films, but for the most part the franchise has been a dependable series in regards to action, story and overall entertainment. But this one just goes nowhere and not only is it too dark – it’s also too boring, creating an atmosphere of apathy for its characters, rather than the empathy we are so used to. It’s a real shame that the filmmakers couldn’t have figured out a better way to tell this story – or maybe even scrapped it and gone for a different narrative altogether. C-