Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of July 13, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of July 13, 2020

The Old Guard
Rated R for sequences of graphic violence, and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
Available on Netflix

Netflix’s newest big budget movie stars Charlize Theron as a modern-day warrior who leads a small group of mercenaries, with a strange inability to die, on a revenge mission after they are double-crossed on a rescue assignment. Based on the comics by Greg Rucka (who also wrote the screenplay) and directed by Love and Basketball’s Gina Prince-Bythewood, the film has some pretty fantastic action sequences with an interesting enough storyline. But at over two hours, the film feels like an extra-long origin episode to one of its series, and not like an actual feature film. Yes it was built for Netflix, but many of their films could easily be at home in a theater, and this one doesn’t fit that description. And while Theron does add some heft to the project, the material almost seems beneath her. In the end, I’m interested in what happens to this franchise, but I fear I may not remember it by the time I get to find out. B-

Summer of Spielberg: Week Seven
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Rated PG-13 for some sexual content and violent images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

Available on ShowtimeAnytime or paid streaming
One of Spielberg’s most under-appreciated films was this sci-fi take on Pinocchio which follows a young mother (Frances O’Connor) who, upon her biological son going into a coma, adopts a young “mecha” boy named David (Haley Joel Osment) in order to give her the love she so desperately misses from her actual son. But when her son comes back into her life, and her new robot son begins to interrupt her world, she sets him free into the universe where he begins to pursue his adventure to try to become a real boy. The project originated from legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick, who apparently had issues with his own ability to make the story work. But he enjoyed Spielberg’s previous pictures and, as legend tells it, allowed him to take it over in order to breathe life into it. During their collaboration, Kubrick tragically died, but you can see his spirit throughout the film, and while the brushstrokes are definitely Spielberg, the canvas is most assuredly Kubrick. As typical, the gorgeous Oscar-nominated score by John Williams provides an operatic wind beneath the film’s wings. But surprisingly, the film only took in a modest box office and was met with a thud come awards season. But in my opinion, the movie was way ahead of its time, and if you either haven’t seen it yet, or if you didn’t like it that much the first go around, I challenge you to take it in now. Like a good wine, the film has aged incredibly well and tastes much better than it did 19 years ago.