Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of March 23, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of March 23, 2020

Rated PG for action/peril and some mild thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
Available on VOD now. Available April 3 on Disney+

Pixar made the unfortunate decision to release their first big animated film of 2020 right when America and the rest of the world were hunkering down. So as a way to reach an audience, they decided to release immediately on streaming platforms rather than wait for the normal three month or longer window. And if you subscribe to Disney+, the film will be available on April 3 as part of the subscription. The story takes place in a land where elves, trolls, fairies and all sorts of fantastical creatures co-exist, but in a world much like our own with technology, schools, neighborhoods, cars and restaurants. When two elf brothers (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt) discover their deceased father’s magical staff and instructions for bringing him back to life for one day, they go on a quest to see their dad once again. Overall, it’s a sweet story with a huge amount of talent behind it and a creative enough screenplay. But with all its creativity, it lacks the wit and cleverness we are used to seeing in Pixar films. It has an emotional punch that is quite nice, but not significant enough to make the film memorable. I will admit that this might have been a completely different experience had it been on a big screen for my first viewing, but I had to choose between seeing it in a theater or the Hawaiian vacation I was on, so small screen it had to be. That being said, I’m glad I didn’t have to wait months for Disney to release the disc, and while I could have waited until April 3 to see it free (as part of my Disney+ subscription), I decided it was worth $20 to purchase, just to support the industry while they are so desperately hurting. After all, had I taken my family to see it this last week in theaters (which I would have if we weren’t on lockdown), the film would have cost me several times that – so my mind was thinking “bargain!” And while it is not my favorite Pixar film in their growing universe, it is still a worthy addition that most families will thoroughly enjoy. B

Rated R for violence, some disturbing images, and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
Available on Disc and Streaming

One of the best films to come out of 2020 is this WWI thriller which tells the story of a young soldier who is asked to quickly rush through enemy territory to deliver a message to his brother before his entire division makes a mistake in their attack. To make the already exciting story that much more thrilling, director Sam Mendes (American Beauty) decided to shoot the film is almost one long take, giving the audience the feeling of the story playing out in real-time. And what a story! With so few films about the first World War, an entry like this is incredibly welcome. And with its style and flow, this is the closest thing I’ve ever experienced (or wanted to experience) to being there in person. From the opening shot, I was glued to the screen and worn out, physically and emotionally, when the credits rolled. It certainly helps to have a first-rate pedigree in regards to the production team with the multi-faceted Sam Mendes calling the shots and Oscar-winning Roger Deakins as cinematographer. And then there’s the score by Thomas Newman (which should have won the Oscar) which provides a wonderful musical companion to the already harrowing journey. In a time where everyone is looking for a great film to watch while stuck at home – this is a no-brainer and also one where it is worthwhile to check out all of the special features in order to have a better understanding of how such a monumentally ambitious project is created. A+

The Grudge
Rated R for disturbing violence and bloody images, terror and some language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 20%
Available on Disc and Streaming

In this attempt to revive the Grudge franchise, a detective must protect her family from harm after investigating the actions of a vengeful ghost, thus turning the spirit upon herself. I loved the original Japanese Grudge from 2003, which played as more of an art-house horror thriller than a traditional scarer. In a way – it was highly influential to many of the modern horror films of today. But then the American remake and its predecessors hit the screen, kind of ruining things. With this new addition, I was actually hopeful that the more than decent cast, including Demian Bichir and John Cho, could mean that the film was actually scary and not just confusing and goofy. Unfortunately, the plot here is nonsensical and incredibly hard to follow and the decent cast of actors completely waste their talents as you see in their eyes that they are angry at their agents for putting them in such an awful project. D