Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of December 21, 2020

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of December 21, 2020

Rated PG for some language and thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Available on Disney+

Rather than to keep pushing back the release date of this major property from Pixar, Disney has opted to use its uber-successful streaming platform to release what will most likely be the top Oscar contender for best animated feature. Written and directed by Pete Docter (Up, Inside Out), Soul tells the story of a school band director (Jamie Foxx) who dreams of being a great jazz pianist. But when he finally gets his big break, he falls through a manhole and finds himself on the way to the great beyond. There, he is charged with inspiring a young soul (Tina Fey) before being transferred to a baby human. If I’ve learned something from watching Docter’s films, they always tell unconventional tales in a complex way that engage the mind and the senses. The man is a brilliant animated storyteller and this new creation is just further proof. Think you know what the movie is all about from the trailer? Think again. My poor synopsis is purposefully obscure as the journey is both intense, inspiring and full of surprises. Helping the story along is a top notch production including an amazing ensemble of voice talent and a nearly perfect score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross with jazz provided by Jon Batiste. While their earlier 2020 release Onward was pretty good – this one is truly great and inline with the studio’s top masterpieces. A+

News of the World
Rated PG-13 for thematic material, some language, disturbing images and violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
In Theaters

Bravely opening in theaters on Christmas is this innovative and relevant western directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy) starring Tom Hanks as a traveling news reader. Taking place five years after the Civil War, retired Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Hanks) discovers a young orphan girl, who doesn’t speak English, on the trail near Wichita Falls, TX who desperately needs help to find her aunt and uncle in hill country. So traveling through both the somewhat civilized cities and the treacherous regions of Texas, he must find a way to keep himself and the girl alive while evading the scoundrels that mean to harm them. While the film appears to be on the level and works as a straight-out story to those who don’t want to put too much thought into it, ultimately the movie comes off as way more figurative and poetic than literal. In my mind I saw something completely different. As a news reader trying to factually inform people of what is happening at home and abroad, Hanks can be seen as truth, trying to deliver America (in this case the innocent girl) safely with threats of violence and propaganda attacking from all sides. This deeper meaning to the film gives it a less that subtle complexity that is well-driven by Greengrass and Hanks. While filmed in New Mexico, the story was that much more interesting for taking place in cities and towns (in name only) which most of us, as Texans, are very familiar with. While it had some story elements that seem a bit out of place, the many different facets make for an excellent movie-going experience, and maybe, if you are interested in it, an education and enlightenment. A-

Wonder Woman 1984
Rated PG-13 for violence and sequences of action
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%
In Theaters and on HBO Max

Originally meant for theaters several months back, HBO and Warner Brothers recently announced that the much-anticipated Wonder Woman sequel would simultaneously hit theaters and their streaming service, in order to draw a wider audience to both preferences. The story takes place decades after the events of the first film, as Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) is living in Washington DC in 1984. When a robbery of antiquities goes wrong, her team is asked to identify some of the pieces discovered. One said piece grants users their wish, either if made on purpose or accidentally. Originally destined for a corrupt and greedy businessman named Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) who is able to recover it, and inadvertently bestowing powers on one of the scientists examining the pieces (Kristen Wiig), the power of the wish gets out of hand on a global scale. I can only guess that when Captain Marvel aced a 90’s super hero film, Warner Brothers got the idea to do the same for Wonder Woman in everyone’s favorite decade. While it adds a unique and fun design to the film, I’m not sure it really carries over that well. What does work is Kristen Wiig as Cheetah, who does an admirable job of becoming a crazed villain. Unfortunately, the main baddie Max Lord comes off as rather lame, like a bad supernatural Bond villain. And when your villain comes off weak, it only magnifies the film’s many other problems. It is at times a fun film to watch, but the cheese tends to overwhelm the entertainment throughout. Still, it manages to be big and loud to tries desperately to hide its silliness, and I’m sure many will have a great time watching it. C+