Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of October 4, 2021

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of October 4, 2021

No Time To Die
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and action, brief strong language, some disturbing images and some suggestive material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
In Theaters

We’ve had to wait for almost two years to see this latest James Bond flick as Covid was very unkind to the original release dates, but this long-awaited project is finally seeing the light of day (or darkened theater in this case) in what is being rumored as Daniel Craig’s last outing as 007. After a flashback sequence and a heartbreaking and heart-stopping rollercoaster ride that finds Bond breaking up with his sweetheart (Lea Seydoux), we find Bond hiding out in Jamaica years later, in no hurry to return to the spy game. But when his CIA friend Felix (Jeffrey Wright) asks him to help find a missing scientist, he finds himself deeply connected to a sinister plot, led by a strangely calm maniac (Rami Malek) that could kill off most of the planet. But at the same time he is trying to save the world, his own personal universe starts to interfere when he discovers an important secret being hidden from him. While not all of Craig’s Bond films have been stellar, they have certainly exhibited stronger scripts and better acting than any of the previous films in the franchise. While 2015’s Spectre was a low point, this one quickly makes you forget about the problems of the past. The script here is complex and deep, allowing for Craig to deliver a performance much more similar to Skyfall than his other outings. In fact, I’d put this at the top of his run. There is a different look and feel to this Bond and I for one like it. I also need to mention the fantastic reenvisioning of the iconic music from composer Hans Zimmer who delivers here one of the best scores of the year. If there is a weak point in the movie its in the villain played by Rami Malek, who is creepy and dangerous, but we really don’t get a sense of what he’s trying to accomplish and why so many android-like minions blindly follow him. I guess that makes him a typical Bond villain, but I think they could have done better. Regardless, this new outing is worth the wait and definitely worth sitting in the theater for almost three hours wearing a mask. A-

The Many Saints of Newark
Rated R for sexual content, pervasive language, some nudity and strong violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%
In theaters and streaming on HBO Max

This highly-anticipated prequel to HBO’s iconic television series The Sopranos follows the early years of Tony Soprano, both as a kid and a teenager, as he tries to figure himself out in the volatile climate of 60’s and 70’s New Jersey. Rather than trying to emulate his harsh father, he gravitates towards his uncle (also mafia) and you begin to see the forces that shape him into the man we know so well from the series. While there is a well-known cast present with Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, Leslie Odom Jr. and Ray Liotta, most of the cast is relatively unknown but hold their own well. James Gandolfini’s real life son Michael is probably the most talked-about aspect of the film, and justifiably so, but Alessandro Nivola puts in a star-making turn as Anthony’s anti-hero uncle, a man that seems decent most of the time, except for all that murder and crime stuff. The problem with the film is its relevance. It’s been almost too long since The Sopranos controlled our water cooler talk and much has been forgotten. As a stand-alone film it almost works, but it is not a stand-alone film. If you haven’t seen the show, you might enjoy much of the movie, but you will be a little confused at references and thoughts that are meant to be floating around your head. If you have seen the show, it will probably also confuse you because you should have remembered everything, in detail. It would have been an Emmy-winning, memorable two-episode flashback series if it had aired in 2005, but now it becomes a game of “which character is that” and “what did he do again” as you spend an equal amount of time looking at your phone researching as you do watching the actual movie. That doesn’t mean its bad, but it sure is distracting. Overall, the plot is fascinating and it is certainly a well-conceived mafia movie, but it is at least a decade out of place. Perhaps if you take the time to revisit those fantastic six seasons of the show, this might hold its own as canon and help define what follows for Tony and family years later. B