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-