Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of October 24, 2022

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of October 24, 2022

Black Adam
Rated PG-13 for sequences of strong violence, intense action and some language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 39%
In Theaters

What was once planned as part of the next Shazam movie quickly evolved into its own adventure when DC saw the potential for a standalone project with Dwayne Johnson on board, and thusly flipped the script. Black Adam was very much seen as a villain, or at least an anti-hero, within the DC universe. In the context of this story, an evil organization corners a group of freedom-fighters in a fictional Middle Eastern country when one of those cornered accidentally lets loose the long hibernating ancient god into the world. While not necessarily the good guy, he goes after the really bad guys in super violent ways, inadvertently helping the people gain hope of a free country again. But when a group of heroes called the “Justice Society” learn of his power and potential danger, they step in to try to capture him in the hopes of reigning him in. Much of the film is a big loud mess, but in spite of its darkness, it manages to possess a sharp sense of humor, as would be expected in a film starring The Rock. The attempt to bring Black Adam into the DC universe clouds the story with a bit of overreach, but I understand the reasoning, even if I don’t agree with it. Overall, the film provides for a good enough genesis story for a relatively unknown comic book character and manages to propel him into the larger world of heroes within the chaotic and disjointed DC franchise. B-

Wendell & Wild
Rated PG-13 for violence, brief strong language, substance abuse and some thematic material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%
Streaming on Netflix

This highly-anticipated stop motion animated flick from director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline) stars comedy superstars Key and Peele (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) as two demons who are brought down to Earth to assist a troubled girl haunted by the death of her parents. Wildly creative and with all of the hilarity you would expect from these two, the story is unconventional yet not too dark to find enjoyable. Selick has always excelled in the macabre, and this collaboration proves to be a successful use of his talents. Perhaps the biggest winner here is Netflix, which could very well win itself an Oscar for animation this year with three of the best-reviewed animated films of the year: Apollo 10 1/2, W&W and the upcoming Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio. They are competing with the mouse house in ways many of us didn’t see coming. A-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of October 17, 2022

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of October 17, 2022

Rated R for some language and brief nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
In Theaters

From writer/director Todd Field (Little Children, In the Bedroom) comes this unconventional drama starring Cate Blanchett as a famous female conductor who must deal with mounting obstacles as she prepares for a much-anticipated recording of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. To be honest, the plot doesn’t sound very compelling. If you think it looks and sounds like a pretentious arthouse movie, you would be mostly right. Blanchett’s character begins at the height of her career as a powerful conductor with a major German orchestra and right off the bat she is fairly unlikable and the film seems almost distant in its approach and ostentatious demeanor. When people think of obnoxious arthouse cinema – the first two acts of this film could pose as the poster child. But then the third act hits and you start to understand that the story knows what it is and aires needed to be put on for you to fully appreciate the unraveling. Not to give away major spoilers, but the third act is brilliant and all that bombastic pretentiousness beautifully gives way to a desperation you don’t see coming, unless you read reviews like mine. I’ve heard Blanchett’s name being mentioned as the front runner for Best Actress this year and for the first two hours I was convinced that her odds were grossly exaggerated. By the time the credits rolled I was entirely in agreement. Her performance is multidimensional and quite perfect. As is the writing and direction from Fields, who you think is about to bore you for three hours only to find out that you have wildly underestimated your tour guide. My only negative critique revolves around its score, or rather lack of one. For a movie about music to not really have any, or to only have a limited amount, was a strange choice. I know this was done on purpose, but it is noticeably absent and distracting. But even with that major piece missing, the film is both potent and memorable, and extremely relevant to what it means to wield power and influence in the modern world. A-

Halloween Ends
Rated R for gore, bloody horror violence, language throughout and some sexual references
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 39%
In theaters and streaming on Peacock

I believe that Halloween is ending as much as I believe that Elton John will stop touring, but for now we must put aside our bias and go along with David Gordon Green’s trilogy under the premise that this will be the last Halloween film and the end of Michael Myers. I think most of us would agree that it is about time and this film gives hope that not only will we get some clarity about who Myers really is but also see him go down in a manor he deserves. The first film in this trilogy started out well enough only to be almost ruined by the second film, Halloween Kills, which was purely laughable. So while I wanted to see how they would pull this off, I wasn’t really looking forward to a masterpiece. With expectations firmly in place, the film didn’t impress, but it didn’t let me down either. If it weren’t for the cash grab that three films provides vs. two, I think that this storyline would have been better served up as two much more palatable projects, but since this whole thing is basically a cash grab anyway, I guess we are lucky to not have to wait for a fourth and fifth bad storyline. The best that can be said is that I didn’t hate it. It’s a serviceable slasher film with a high enough production budget and a more than decent cast. The story at least had my interest peaked more than it had my eyes rolling, so for that alone it doesn’t suck as bad as I thought it would. And the hope that we will finally get some closure on this incredibly long-running franchise is comforting. C+

Arsenic and Old Lace: The Criterion Collection
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%
Available on Disc and Streaming on The Criterion Channel

In 1944 Frank Capra directed this dark comedy which stars Cary Grant as an author who returns home on Halloween to announce his new marriage to his aunts. But upon the celebratory announcement, he discovers the home is full of dead bodies, setting up a screwball turn of events. To bring more horror to the night, his serial killer brother shows up with sinister plans. This hilarious madcap comedy looks better than ever with Criterion’s new 4K digital transfer, typical of their impressive restoration work. I forget that some of these old films have a real edge and this story is truly as dark as it is funny, and surprisingly not as dated as you would think. A

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: 40th Anniversary Edition
Rated PG
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%
Available on Disc and Digital

It’s hard to believe that 40 years have flown by since Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi masterpiece hit theaters. Telling the story of a young boy who befriends a lost alien, E.T. holds a major place in the hearts of film lovers everywhere. And with arguably the greatest film score ever written, it is likely that the music by John Williams is floating in your head even as you read this. This new edition includes over 4 hours of extras including a new retrospective of the film and its legacy, as well as a new conversation with Spielberg discussing the making. A+

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of October 3, 2022

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of October 3, 2022

Rated R for strong sexual content, some drug use and language throughout
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
In Theaters

From writer/director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Neighbors) and Producer Judd Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) comes this highly lauded raunch com being touted as the first ever mainstream gay romantic comedy. The story places co-writer and star Billy Eichner as a lonely podcaster living in New York City who falls in love with a seemingly boring hunk, played by Luke MacFarlane. Getting past a series of hilarious mishaps and fails, a sweet relationship blossoms, allowing them both to get past their own insecurities and reservations. In that description, it seems like a traditional hetero romantic comedy. But the whole nature of the film makes you quickly understand why it is not, and what makes it unique and special. I would go as far as to say that this is a gay romantic comedy designed for a hetero audience. It’s a movie meant to tear down walls and shows that love stories of all kinds are important, no matter who is in love. As I’m reviewing this a few days after its opening, it’s also obvious that this is a film that is having a tough time finding an audience. Part of that is opening in October, when good horror films are finding huge success. But part of it is also that audiences might not be ready. I hope the second part is wrong, but with a $5 million dollar opening in spite of huge publicity and phenomenal reviews and word of mouth, this might not turn into the hit that Judd Apatow and Nick Stoller are used to. Still – it’s worth a go. It’s a terrific date movie whether you are gay or straight and if you venture to take a chance, regardless of your comfort level, you will find yourself laughing hysterically while also having your heartstrings plucked. A-

Rated R for sexual content, graphic violence and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%
Streaming on Hulu

Earlier this year, Hulu released the spectacular Predator film Prey, giving a stale franchise a lift. With their new Hellraiser reboot, they hope to follow suit. This new take on Clive Barker’s 1987 haunter follows a young woman (Odessa A’Zion) dealing with addiction who finds a puzzle that brings around a host of evil beings called Cenobites every time it finds fresh blood. The Cenobites, led by a new female Pinhead, attempt to get her to do their bidding by bringing them fresh souls to torture in exchange for her choice of gifts. As someone who doesn’t really like what I call torture porn, this movie isn’t my cup of tea. But this one doesn’t necessarily follow the slasher model and instead presents itself as more of a super violent inter-dimensional monster movie. For its creativity alone, I found it watchable. The story is a vast improvement upon its predecessors, as it tries to actually present a plot rather than just scaring you with creatures to haunt your dreams. Is it bound to revive the franchise? I actually hope not as I do find it a bit too disturbing for my comfort level. But for those that really love this type of flick, it might scare up a big audience while simultaneously bringing on lots of new nightmares. B-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of September 26, 2022

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of September 26, 2022

Rated NC-17 for some sexual content
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 51%
Streaming on Netflix

Based on the bestselling novel by Joyce Carol Oates, Blonde follows the story of Norma Jean, i.e. Marlilyn Monroe, from the traumatic first memories of her life to her tragic death that shook Hollywood. Being that it was written and directed by Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), I was quite excited to see what could be done with this story. Then I was both shocked and intrigued to see that it got an NC-17 rating. After all, I hadn’t seen an NC-17 motion picture since Showgirls, and we all know how that turned out. As for the story itself, it is a fascinating warning of what Hollywood is capable of. It very accurately portrays Monroe as a victim of the worst kind, without a friend to help her along the way. It is sad and horrific watching her progress through her career. Regardless, the performance by Ana de Armas is riveting and courageous, showing off her impressive skillset as an actress. What is not riveting, unfortunately, is the directing by Dominik, which switches style and palate like a schizophrenic. If these mood alterations worked I could give him credit, but instead they serve as a distraction as you try to, unsuccessfully, figure out what the heck he is doing and saying. As for the NC-17 rating, while there is a preponderance of nudity and sexual material, it is not sexy. Rather the movie uses the explicit material to build empathy for the victim as you watch her, over and over again, get used and discarded in spite of her fame and notoriety. Ultimately, this film is not for everyone, especially at an almost 3 hour run-time. And while I don’t suspect that anyone would expect to feel good after watching, this film is certain to, by design, make you feel sick and disgusted by the end. C

The Munsters
Rated PG for language, scary images, macabre and suggestive material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%
Available on Disc and streaming on Netflix

Based on the 60’s television show of the same name, The Munsters tells the origin story of how Herman and Lily Munster met and what brought them to the U.S. Told from the vision of the rocker and horror filmmaker Rob Zombie, who apparently spent decades developing it, the movie does have a unique look and feel. Unfortunately there is the story, or lack of one, which is so bad that it feels like it is setting its aims on a Golden Raspberry rather than a future franchise. From beginning to end, the movie meanders pointlessly as it attempts to make you roll your eyes rather than laugh out loud. This project is such a shame. I would have loved to have seen what Zombie could do with this one had he taken a more adult approach. Sure it is now kid-friendly, but why? What was he hoping to accomplish? This disaster of a film should come in dead on arrival. F

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
In theaters and streaming

This post-apocalyptic sci-fi pic from IFC shows us a world where the Earth’s ecosystem has collapsed and a young girl named Vesper struggles to survive and possibly use her bio-hacking skills to change the future. What most consider to be sci-fi are sci-fi action flicks. Good ol’ summer blockbusters. But every once in a while we get a gem like this that shows us a dark and desolate universe which, for the most part, replaces action with story and vision. While it won’t be a huge box-office draw, if you consider yourself a fan of the genre, you should definitely check this one out as it pushes the limits on imagination and keeps you on your toes. It doesn’t have the budget or the cast of something you’ll see on Disney+, but it more than makes up for it as you sit in fascination navigating the dangerous world through Vesper’s eyes. A-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of September 12, 2022

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of September 12, 2022

Confess, Fletch
Rated R for drug use, some sexual content and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90% at time of writing
In theaters and available on demand

Based on the second book from the hit Fletch series by Gregory McDonald, Confess, Fletch stars Jon Hamm (Mad Men) as the former journalist turned goofy hero, all set in the modern day. As he returns from a trip to Italy back to the states, he finds himself to be the chief murder suspect when a girl is found dead in the apartment he is staying in. So in addition to investigating a stolen art collection for his new Italian girlfriend, he must now also try to solve the murder to get himself off the hook. If you are like me, you probably reflect fondly on the 1980’s Fletch films starring Chevy Chase. I don’t know if you’ve watched them lately, but while I loved them back in the day, now I wonder what the heck I was thinking. They really aren’t that great. So if you are worried about Jon Hamm carrying the torch – don’t be. He’s terrific in this film, and much better for the role than Chase ever was. The fact that he doesn’t try to turn on the comedy makes it that much funnier, and his turn at the iconic figure is kind of perfect. His style takes a second to get used to, but once you warm up to him, you really start to appreciate it. And when you add in Greg Motolla as writer/director (Superbad, Paul), along with the really well-cast group of supporting actors including Roy Woods, Jr., Kyle MacLachlan, Marcia Gay Harden and John Slattery, you get a whopper of a comedy. Newcomers Lorenza Izzo, Annie Mumolo and Ayden Mayeri also manage to steal every scene they are in, helping the ensemble to really shine. There are some moments when folks are trying too hard and a gag here and there might fail, but for the most part the movie is so quick and lovable that you forgive and forget easily. I really hope this film becomes a hit so that we might get to see more of what Hamm can do with McDonald’s multitude of Fletch novels. A-