Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of June 7, 2021

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of June 7, 2021

In The Heights
Rated PG-13 for suggestive references and some language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
In Theaters and Streaming on HBO Max

From creator Lin-Manuel Miranda (Broadway’s Hamilton) and director John Chu (Crazy Rich Asians, Step Up) comes this movie recreation of Miranda’s 2005 Broadway smash about a group of immigrants who have made their lives in the Washington Heights area of New York City. The complex story revolves around several central characters who all move through their day-to-day while trying to figure out how to make their dreams come true. Through love, loss, struggles and passions, we watch each character come to life in a vibrant way through song, dance and story. Let me preface this by saying that first of all, I was a big fan going in. This was the film I was most looking forward to seeing in 2020, and then also when it got pushed to 2021. I saw it five times on stage with each performance turning me into an emotional wreck. I walked into the theater thinking that this would be the Oscar winner this year and I left the theater even more sure of my prediction. There is so much to love in this production which will ultimately leave a huge legacy for Manuel and team. First off, I loved the changes they made from the stage production. While the songs are all great on stage, there are moments where the pacing could use an improvement, and it got that improvement here. They cut out a few songs and a supporting character, and then made huge changes with a couple of plot points, which will surprise fans, but not in a bad way. Secondly, I loved the performances. This relatively unknown cast is chock-full of talent and the producers didn’t see a need to add big stars for the marquee. Instead they mostly chose future stars that are going to get their start here. Lastly, I loved the relevance. The stage production celebrated heritage but left out the politics. But since 2005, immigration has become much more of a hot-button issue and they dive in head first making “dreamers” a major part of the story. This was smart as it doesn’t preach in your face but rather tries to make its audience empathize. Although this will be on HBO Max, I would highly advise you to watch it in theaters. This is an event that deserves a big screen. Plus, they make you wear masks in theaters so no one will be able tell how much you are crying (and you will cry loads throughout). I will leave you with this: stay until the lights go up. At my screening, I was the only one in the theater after the credits rolled and everyone else missed the big final musical number, which truly was the cherry on top of this amazing sundae. A+

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
Rated R for terror, some disturbing images and violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 59%
In Theaters and on HBO Max

This third film (technically) in The Conjuring franchise tells the story about a horrific murder committed by a young man, that upon being investigated by Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Stewart and Vera Farmiga), had them testifying in court that he was innocent due to certain demonic possession. While the opening of the film will definitely creep most audiences out thoroughly, the meat of the story starts to lose focus as the tale fades into and out of the reality of what the Warrens said they experienced here, and what the records show actually happened. What I loved most about the first two films was that much of the two stories were loyal to the source material and could at least be perceived as “based on a true story.” This one strays so far off the path that it loses what makes these stories so scary and instead relies on cheap thrills and pop out scares. By the end you get what is not really a bad movie, but a disappointing one that is not nearly as frightening as it should be. C+