Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of June 13, 2022

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of June 13, 2022

Rated PG for action/peril
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
In Theaters

Building a storyline for one of Pixar’s most famous characters is this sort of prequel for the Toy Story franchise which follows Buzz Lightyear in his early days as a space ranger. The film begins on a far off planet that can sustain life, but which proves to be extremely hostile. When they are trapped on the planet, Buzz commits his life to finding a way out for him and his fellow compatriots. What starts as a fun but frivolous action pic quickly turns into a deep and thought provoking drama, reminiscent of Interstellar, as Buzz’s experimental failures show real consequences to the world around him. I went in thinking that this would be a fun little inconsequential joyride but really didn’t expect the emotional punch thrown in here. So needless to say, I found the journey to be rather impressive. And for those of you like me who found the CGI from last week’s Jurassic World Dominion to be rather mundane, this animation is far from it, once again pushing the limits in subtle ways that enhance the experience. And speaking of enhancements, the score by Michael Giacchino (who also composed Jurassic World Dominion) is one of his best since he did Up and Ratatouille, which should make soundtrack fans everywhere very happy. My biggest critique comes in the form of voices and characters. I don’t mind Chris Evans as the voice of Buzz, and he does a fine enough job, but Tim Allen is perfect and would have been better in this role. Also, aside from Buzz, Alisha and Izzy (the three main characters), the film is sparse as far as characters go, and could have used a boost. Taika Waititi chips in as the voice for a throw-away character, but not even that provides enough to enrich the story. That being said, Buzz’s robot cat sidekick SOX steals every scene he is in, so at least there is that. All in all, for a summer family film, you can’t ask for a better time. A-

Rated R for intense violence, bloody images and language throughout
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%
Available on disc and streaming on Peacock

Michael Bay steps back into the crime action arena again with this heist-gone-wrong film starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as two brothers whose plans to rob a bank go south, and in order to escape, they hijack an ambulance with a dying cop in the back, creating a two hour, essentially real-time chase flick. While his Transformer films have certainly disappointed of late, the one thing Bay is great at is big action films with lots of danger, action and violence. The story is good enough to drive the action and the action is good enough to keep you engaged for the ride. And surprisingly enough, it’s a smart movie which, while overly stylized, doesn’t resort to ridiculousness as it progresses. For what it is, it’s an enjoyable roller coaster ride that’s worth turning off the lights and turning up the sound for. B

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of June 6, 2022

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of June 6, 2022

Jurassic World Dominion
Rated PG-13 for language, intense sequences of action and some violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73% at time of writing
In Theaters

Treating this new set of Jurassic films like a trilogy, Dominion is serving as the finale for the new narrative that Jurassic World began and Fallen Kingdom almost destroyed. Joining Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are the JP OG’s Laura Darn, Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum. As you might recall from the last dismal outing, dinosaurs are now loose on the planet and invading human spaces around the world. Pratt and Howard now live in a remote mountain cabin with their adopted clone daughter and the raptor Blue living nearby. When the girl and Blue’s baby are kidnapped, the couple go on a mission to get them back. Meanwhile Dern, Neill and Goldblum head to the compound of an Elon Musk type (played by Campbell Scott) who has set up a dino sanctuary in the Dolemite Mountains where he does evil genetic research. There they play Scooby Doo to try to uncover his malignant intentions for world domination. By the third act, they all join forces. If you’ve seen the trailers you will notice there are a lot of dinosaurs and if that’s what you’re after, you are in luck. While the action is decent and there are some nice bits of comical dialog, I found the experience frustrating due to the multitude of logic flaws and mediocre special effects. Yes, the film that stems from the ground-breaking special effects extravaganza of Spielberg’s Jurassic Park fails to impress with effects that look unfinished and sloppy. But doing the most damage to movie is the poor script and the unfocused directing. The story might have good bones, but the gaps are poorly filled in and it seems they were trying to do so much that they couldn’t do much of it well. There are too many times when the actors and extras are too unaware of the dinosaurs around them, creating scenes that make no sense and take away from the story. My favorite example of this is when two T-Rex’s are loose in Malta and a guy goofily drives his scooter in between them like they didn’t show up until they ate him. This kind of action abounds throughout. If there is a bear or even a scary dog standing five to ten feet from you, most folks would run for cover. But here people stand feet from large dinosaurs without flinching. It’s like they didn’t think any of the actions through before filming. Like they were in a hurry to churn out a big dumb action film as fast as possible. I will admit that there were some nicely done set pieces and action sequences, but every one of them was shown in the trailers – leaving no surprises or thrills whatsoever. This could have been a nice adventure, but instead it turned into a poorly executed tentpole, failing to live up to its legacy. C

Rated R for Language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
Streaming on Netflix

Adam Sandler and NBA baller Juancho Hernangomez star in this sports drama about an NBA scout who discovers a major talent in Spain only to be told by the new owner that there is no interest. Putting it all on the line, he decides to foot the bill to try to earn his discovery a chance to play in the NBA without his boss’s support. While Sandler would probably prefer that most critics not review his work for obvious reasons, every couple of years he puts out something to be proud of and this is one of those films. He is absolutely convincing in the role and his passion for the subject shines through in his performance. In addition, the filmmakers managed to rustle up a huge cast, especially in terms of former and current NBA superstars who are peppered throughout in an organic manner that gives the project an air of authenticity. Sports films like this can be so hit and miss, and this one turns out to be a very welcome hit. A-

Double Indemnity: The Criterion Collection 4K
Rated PG
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Available on Disc and Streaming

One of the most celebrated films of all time, this classic 1944 Billy Wilder film noir stars Fred MacMurray as an insurance salesman who teams up with Barbara Stanwyck to put a large policy on her husband before they kill him. It is a slick and dirty crime thriller with a fast pace and a terrific cast. While they’ve restored before for the blu-ray release, Criterion goes overboard with a new 4K restoration and, believe it or not, some new special features to add to their already extensive list from previous editions.

The Bridge On the River Kwai: 65th Anniversary Limited Edition and Lawrence of Arabia: 60th Anniversary Limited Edition
Rated PG
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96% and 94% respectively
Available on 4K Steelbox Editions and Streaming

Two other classics getting the 4K treatment are these amazing David Lean films, both winners of 7 Oscars including Best Picture. Both still hold up well, especially with these restorations. The special features are all from the archives, but there are many to be found here, including interviews with filmmakers like Scorsese and Spielberg discussing how influential Lean was for themselves and the art form.

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of May 23, 2022

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of May 23, 2022


Top Gun: Maverick
Rated PG-13 for some strong language and sequences of intense action
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
In Theaters

Originally slated for release on July 12, 2019, this much-anticipated Top Gun Sequel has been stewing until this week when audiences will finally get to climb into the cockpit of a fighter jet for a heavy dose of speed and danger. The story takes place in modern day where Lt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell has been brought into teach a young group of former hot shot Top Gun graduates how to take out a well-protected and sensitive military target before the rogue state they are attacking can find a way to enrich uranium for predicted evil purposes. In just a matter of a couple of weeks he must first turn the pilots into a team and then find a way to help them succeed in their important mission. From the exhilarating beginning to the explosive ending, this welcome adventure proves to have the right stuff to excite and thrill with a script that lacks cheese and acting that is convincing enough for the journey. It has been 36 years since the original Top Gun commanded the box office and while it still holds up nicely, my biggest concern is would it come close to matching the original in style and substance, and it is with great relief that it truly does. Top Gun was more of an event than a movie with a bigger than life hero and a soundtrack that was the fifth best-seller of 1986, and to this day is full of memorable themes and songs. With such big shoes to fill, Maverick delivers an equally powerful soundtrack from Lady Gaga and Hans Zimmer along with the theme repeated from the original film by composer Harold Faltermeyer. It’s a well-balanced score perfectly crafted for the film. Will the film be the mega-hit the original was? It’s unlikely. A lot depends on how they are able to market it to a new generation. You don’t have to see the original to get it, but it does help. But now that Cruise is 59, he will pull a huge adult audience, but time will tell if that audience is able to get their kids and their grandchildren interested enough to jump in also. The good news is that it is worthy and should make those who are salivating for it very, very happy. A

Chip ’N’ Dale: Rescue Rangers
Rated PG for mild action, rude/suggestive humor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%
Streaming on Disney+

When I first saw the email come across my desk for this Rescue Rangers reboot, my first thought went to the horrible and cringe-worthy originals and I just wasn’t interested. But then a critic colleague suggested I give it a try and I’m actually glad I did. Voicing the parts of the two adventurous chipmunks are John Mulaney and Andy Samberg, two of my favorite comedians, along with a fantastic supporting cast including Will Arnett, Seth Rogen and J.K. Simmons. The story follows the showbiz careers of the two leads as they broke up from their classic team and now have to come together to find a cast mate who has mysteriously disappeared. It’s a clever, self-aware romp through cartoon land that is reminiscent of Roger Rabbit with its references to animated characters from all studios including even Shrek and South Park. It turns out to be a movie that you can truly enjoy with the kids, and you will find yourselves enjoying it for completely different reasons. B+