Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of July 22, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of July 22, 2019

Alita: Battle Angel
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Originally, this sci-fi action pic, based on the graphic novel, was to be directed by James Cameron as his follow-up to Avatar. But as the comic Avatar franchise became more important to him, the reigns were given to Robert Rodriguez, with much of the original production team still on board. The story follows a young robotic girl with innate fighting ability yet no memory of her past, who is rescued by a doctor who tries to keep her away from her potentially dangerous history. I can see why this was a tempting story for James Cameron, especially from a special effects point of view. The visuals here are eye-popping and the world created offers up a chance for a big franchise. There is much to like about the story and the use of some of Hollywood’s best, including Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly and Mahershala Ali, give the film both credibility and a richer palette. The only thing that I could have done without is the use of basically roller derby to drive the story along. To me it adds an element of weirdness that takes the film down a notch. Still, I’m excited to see where the story goes as I’m sure we are going to see more of Alita, and hopefully when we do, the roller derby will have just been merely a short-lived vehicle to get us to the larger narrative. B

Rated PG for thematic content including peril
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 59%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This faith-based film tells the true story of a teenager who submerged into an icy pond for 15 minutes and due to what can only be seen as a miracle, was able to walk out of the hospital in a relatively short period of time. Lionsgate pulled out the big guns with this one by assembling a great cast, way bigger than what is normally seen for this genre. Chrissy Metz (This is Us), Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama), Topher Grace (BlacKkKlansman), Mike Colter (Luke Cage), and Sam Trammell (True Blood) gather here not to pander to the material, but rather to elevate it. But while the film comes off with just about the right amount of preachiness, it still has an expected cheese factor. There is one unfortunate scene in particular involving an out of place candlelight vigil which almost manages to take the film down, but if you are able to easily forgive a little excess of indulgent filmmaking, then you should be able to find yourself happy and inspired by the end. B-

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action, language, and suggestive material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This unexpected but very welcome hit tells the story of a young orphan who finds himself on the receiving end of a gift of super powers and an adult ripped body which he is to use to save the universe from a maniacal super villain. Even though Shazam will eventually be part of the larger DC universe, this origin story is far more comical than you would expect, while also tugging on the heart strings due to the back ground of the hero. But even with its tongue-in-cheek levity, it is also much darker than most superhero films, with some pretty scary moments that might be a little too much for some of the younger viewers out there. But overall, it turns out to be just a big ball of fun that will have you laughing, crying and cheering for two hours. A-

Not Rated, but equivalent to an R
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
Available on Disc and Streaming
Italian with English Subtitles

This highly-praised Italian film from Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah) tells the story of a simple dog groomer who must deal with the day to day ordeal of being bullied by a local mobster who is constantly abusing their “friendship.” Just like the main character, you feel like you are getting a beat down over and over again, praying that justice will somehow prevail by the end. It’s a simple and fantastic little tale which draws empathy and fear, both in an equally heavy way. And while it is at times a disturbing film to watch, it is also quite rewarding and thought provoking. A-