Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of December 4, 2023

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of December 4, 2023

The Boy and the Heron
Rated PG-13 for some violent content, smoking and bloody images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
In Theaters

If you watched the recent 2016 documentary Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki, you would have thought that at 82, the legendary Japanese animator was done making feature films. But now, 10 years after his last creation, The Wind Rises, he is back with a brand-new story that feels very personal, and yet wildly creative. The story follows a young boy whose city is fire-bombed during WWII, losing his mother in the attacks, and thus forced to move away to the countryside with his father and new mother a year later. While there, a magical heron visits him, guiding him on a journey to a strange world, shared by the living and the dead, where he must find his new mother, all the while searching for signs of his dead mother also. At least I think that’s what it is about. This is a really weird one, even for Miyazaki. His films have always felt like parables, full of symbolism and magic. While this one follows that path, it was certainly a crazy one to try to figure out. I can only assume the film is about a boy trying to adjust to his new life, using this fantasy universe to sort out his horrific past, present and potential future. Either way, the film is absolutely beautiful to look at, as you would expect. The animation is surreal and very much feels like a two-hour dream. Along for the ride is long-time collaborator, composer Joe Hisaishi, whose score adds a wonderful and calming dimension to the madness. On first viewing, I’m not in love with the project, but I’m assuming that just like some of his other projects like My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, this one will grow on me with inevitable future viewings. B

Poor Things
Rated R for gore, disturbing material, graphic nudity, language, and strong sexual content
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
In Theaters

From filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite, The Lobster) comes this wildly imaginative tale about a young woman (Emma Stone) who is put back together by an unorthodox surgeon (Willem Dafoe), replacing her brain with that of a baby’s after her suicide attempt didn’t consume her body. As she develops and learns to live in her new world, she discovers sexual pleasure and attempts to explore every bit of it that she can. While there is more to her journey than just erotic indulgence, the film is, at its heart, a Frankenstein-like tale full of sex and imagination, and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. To call it weird is an absolute understatement. Here, Lanthimos uses film as his palette to create some of the most visually creative art that is sure to stir up Hollywood with a ton of upcoming awards nominations. What stands out most, aside from a sexual side to Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo that we’ve never seen anything like previously, is its otherworldly production that will blow your mind, if you give it a chance. Cinematographer Robbie Ryan and production designers Shona Heath and James Price provide the visually stunning world which you will be difficult to wipe from your memory. And newcomer composer Jerkin Fendrix gives a score here that is as unusual as it is unsettling, providing the perfect soundscape for the bewitching universe. This is not a film for everyone, but it certainly will reward those looking for something incredibly different. A-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of November 20, 2023

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of November 20, 2023

Rated PG for thematic elements and mild action
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 54%
In Theaters

For Disney’s 100th anniversary, Disney Animation tasked itself with a feature that embodies one of its central themes throughout the century: making dreams and wishes come true. In this case, Wish is based in a magical Mediterranean kingdom called Rosas where a powerful sorcerer allows people to live within its borders as long as they give up their main wish in life to him for safe keeping. In exchange they get safety, security and happiness. Also, several times a year he makes one of their wishes come true during a grand celebration ceremony. But when a young girl questions his authority, she is granted a visit by a powerful miniature star, capable of changing this pattern, and thusly putting her at war with the now dangerous magician who turns to dark magic to stop her. I have to admit that the trailer didn’t exactly interest me in the project, as I thought the story sounded cheesy and overly obvious. But I was surprised at how enjoyable it actually was. The animation style is different and interestingly complex, and the story is very serviceable. I didn’t find the new musical numbers to be up to snuff, but I said the same thing about Encanto and recanted shortly after, so I’ll give them some time to grow on me. Overall, Wish is the best family film for this Thanksgiving holiday weekend and should be a big hit amongst Disney fans due to it’s central theme and the subtle (and not so subtle) plethora of Easter Eggs. B

Rated R for sexual content, brief language, some grisly images and strong violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%
In Theaters

Ridley Scott, the master of modern historical epics, is back with this story that encompasses the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, starring Joaquin Phoenix as the terrible little general/emperor. Focusing on his rise to power to his ultimate embarrassments and demise, the film gives a visually arresting look at the major battles that earned him his status, as well as a window to his tumultuous relationship with his wife Josephine, played here by Vanessa Kirby. Having recently read a biography about Napoleon, I was satisfied with Scott’s envisioning of many of Napoleon’s main battles and how he handled Napoleon’s frustrating love life. What I was most disappointed in, though, was how rushed it felt, even at a runtime of just over two-and-a-half hours. The movie feels like a good Cliffs Notes version of his life, and you do get an accurate portrayal of the high points, but with Scott in charge, I felt that there was a lot more meat to flesh out. But I did love the performances of Phoenix and Kirby, who were smartly cast with great deliveries. I also loved the constant infusion of unexpected humor among the horrific violence of the fast and furious skirmishes. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s still quite good and worth the time invested. A-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of November 13, 2023

The Hunger Games: The Ballads of Songbirds & Snakes
Rated PG-13 for strong violent content and disturbing material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%
In Theaters

This long-anticipated sequel for The Hunger Games, based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, follows the plight of Coriolanus Snow, the future president of Panem. As a young man, he finds himself trying to do the best for himself and his remaining family when he is dealt with a task of mentoring a young woman named Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) who has been selected by her District 12 to be part of one the earlier Hunger Games competitions, where children from the 12 districts fight to the death at the pleasure of the viewing audience. As he begins to mentor and guide the beautiful young heroine, he starts to fall for her, making his connection even stronger to the potentially doomed fighter, while also shaping his current life and his road ahead. As a fan of the original movies (no, I didn’t read the books, sorry), I did have a desire to learn how the whole thing started and led to where they were, many decades later. So seeing the origin story, or close enough to it, was a bit satisfying. It is also a great idea for a story, which was well-enough written here. The narrative, for the most part, really works here, and the film feels more complex than just a background tale. It helps that the cast is solid. Newcomer Tom Blythe makes for an excellent leading man and more than I would have ever expected for this character. But then there is Golden Globe winner Zegler (West Side Story), who basically steals the show as the doomed young ingenue who has simply accepts her fate, while at the same time realizing that there might be a chance to not actually die in the end. Rounding out the talented supporting cast is Jason Schwartzman as the host, Peter Dinklage as the professor and finally Viola Davis as the game master, who looks like she was simply having an absolute blast playing a twisted and wicked villain with a god complex. By the time the actually games are over, there is a sense of relief that is palpable. But then you have to come to the realization that the story is about Snow and his transformation. While I understand the need for this, it becomes a little anticlimactic and more like the longest epilogue we have seen since Return of the King. While the flow of the film suffers from this movement, it is necessary, even if a bit annoying. But overall, the film is well-crafted, well-acted and a welcome addition to the franchise. It doesn’t at all seem like a money grab, but rather a solemn attempt at giving us more of a world we want to see more of. B

The Killer
Rated R for strong violence, language and brief sexuality
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
Streaming on Netflix

From director David Fincher (Gone Girl, Fight Club) comes this thriller about a hitman (Michael Fassbender) who botches a hit, only to find his life and the ones he loves in danger after the miss. Rather than going on the run, he goes after the people who hired him to make sure he doesn’t end up on the wrong end of the gun. From the opening moments to the exciting end, this film sets itself up to be a very different hitman movie. Fassbender, with his constant inner narrative of what makes a successful assassin, provides a very different character of this ilk than we’ve ever seen on screen before, and one that might not give us empathy, but at least awakens our thoughts of what we would do in his situation and skill. It is truly an edge-of-your-seat thriller that makes you pay attention and rewards you for putting your phone down while staying as hyper-aware as our anti-hero. The acting is phenomenal, especially from Fassbender, but even some of the minor characters shine, such as Tilda Swinton’s in-over-her-head rich woman with real regrets of her involvement in this particularly shadowy underworld. For two exciting hours, I was completely enthralled. While not exactly an Oscar-caliber film, it is certainly one worth putting in your eagle-eyed attention. A-

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of November 6, 2023

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of November 6, 2023

The Marvels
Rated PG-13 for brief language, action and violenc
In Theaters

Through a series of inexplicable cosmic events, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), Ms. Marvel (Iman Vellani) and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) find their powers and presences intertwined after a villain (Zawe Ashton) gains new powers through a newly discovered magical bracelet. Teaming up, the three superheroes attempt to take on the baddie before she destroys their universe in the spirit of trying to save her own. There’s a lot to like in the stories that lead up to this. Captain Marvel was a fantastic movie on its own and if you haven’t seen Ms. Marvel on Disney+, you are really missing out. But this new adventure is so full of plot holes and problems that the confusion alone makes it difficult to enjoy. First off, the villain has very little in the way of exposition or backstory. I feel that had they at least given her something, good or evil, this might have been a serviceable story to dig into. As it is, it feels like sloppy filmmaking from artists who know better, because they’ve done better. What is also confusing is Captain Marvel is incredibly overpowered. Even a tough villain is really no challenge for her, especially with 2 other heroes involved. And yet she struggles to fight her enemy as if she merely had basic fighting superpowers. This didn’t make sense in the least. Where the film succeeds is in its silliness. There is a strange sense of humor that pervades the film, making it more reminiscent of the recent Thor movies or the TV shows than your average Marvel movie. While this humor is rather out of place, like the whacky musical number or the kittens eating up the humans, those comedic scenes are almost welcome distractions from the rest of the movie. Overall, I didn’t hate it, but I certainly didn’t like it. It was serviceable had they fixed the script troubles, but it appears the project got away from them after it was too late to repair, giving Marvel even more issues to move on from as their latest phase keeps falling apart. I’m hoping something comes along as the glue to put it all back together, but with all their recent misses, it looks more likely that they might be forced to scrap the whole thing and start over. C

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of October 16, 2023

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of October 16, 2023

Killers of the Flower Moon
Rated R for some grisly images, language and violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
In Theaters

Based on the best-selling novel by David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon tells the true story of the Osage People in the 1920’s who were being systematically murdered for their oil money by a conniving group of white men who were able to take advantage of the lack of any investigations due to the crimes being committed in Indian Territory. The story follows Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), a young soldier coming home from war to work for his uncle (Robert De Niro), a man who has profited greatly from the Osage Nation. While playing the game his uncle has set up, he falls in love with and marries Mollie (Lily Gladstone), a young Osage woman and heir to her family’s oil riches. But as her family and people are slowly killed off, suspicions start to rise until the point where the newly formed FBI comes calling to finally investigate the crimes known as the Reign of Terror. Directed by Martin Scorsese, and largely filmed on location in Oklahoma, the film has an organic grit to it that could only come from a director such as Marty who is arguably the greatest crime drama moviemaker of our time. Much like when Spielberg did Schindler’s List, Scorsese here succeeds in exposing a massive injustice in our relatively recent history in a way that is both important and impactful. We have only recently begun to understand the cruelties laid out upon the Osage and also the African Americans killed during the Tulsa Race Massacre, which happened about the same time, and which was also briefly addressed during this picture. With the far-right element of this country who wish these kinds of events were simply forgotten and laid to rest, it is vital that brave filmmakers show us these histories, so we won’t so simply forget or ignore them, chalking their excuses up to “critical race theory.” While not overly preachy with his project, Scorsese most definitely exposes the weaknesses in our justice system while also helping us understand how easy it is for these things to happen when seemingly good people turn a blind eye. My only complaints about the films would be that I wish the music fit the film better (a minor problem at best) and that he would have put a five to ten minute intermission in the middle, as I didn’t want to miss a single minute. But at 206 minutes, my bladder just simply wouldn’t allow me to watch the entire thing without at least one short break. Other than that, it is truly one of his bet films, filled with fantastic performances and a thrilling narrative. Lastly, I have to mention how happy I was that he included two of my favorite singer/songwriters Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson in some very meaty and impressive roles. Isbell especially competed evenly with DiCaprio as his smarmy brother-in-law, being judged and sentenced by DiCaprio’s warped sense of morality. A

Butcher’s Crossing
Rated R for brief sexual content, some violence/bloody images and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%
In Theaters

While Nicholas Cage has come out in recent years to give us some studio fare, the most common place for us to see him is in small independent films like Butcher’s Crossing. Here he plays an eclectic buffalo hunter who is hired to take a young rich kid on a massive hunt in the Colorado wilderness. While Cage’s character comes off as interesting and worth watching, the rest of the relatively unknown cast struggles with the material and the writing never really allows the film to progress from the idea of a group of barbaric westerners needlessly killing animals for money. Ironically, while the film never broaches this subject during its narrative, this is conveyed in the scroll at the end, with an out-of-place ecologic lesson learned. It’s unfortunately an odd film with bad acting and a script in need of a doctor. That being said, the production values were terrific with lovely cinematography and a feeling that you are seeing what it could have been like to be around massive herds of buffalo before they were wiped out by villains such as these. C

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of October 2, 2023

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of October 2, 2023

She Came to Me
Rated R for some language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 52%
In Theaters

From the mind of writer/director Rebecca Miller (The Meyerowitz Stories, Proof) comes this adult comedy about an opera composer (Peter Dinklage) whose marriage to a beautiful yet distant psychologist (Anne Hathaway) has left him with a case of writer’s block. But when he experiences a quick indiscretion with a lovely but strange tugboat captain who has a “romance” addiction (Marisa Tomei), he is inspired to write an opera with a similar storyline, all the while trying to hide the true but embarrassing story of his muse. Dinklage is such a tremendous screen presence that I could watch him almost anywhere. While this is not his most impressive of projects, it was still entertaining to watch him in such a role. While the rest of the cast is impressive, and they do a fine job with the material they have, the story is all over the place and never seems to land a good hook. There are moments when you see one coming, but the film ends up being a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and never really gets around to the point. I liked the subplot of the 18-year-old stepson and his romance with his 16-year-old girlfriend which is viciously attacked by the girlfriend’s stepdad. But that almost seemed out of place and inserted merely because the main story couldn’t provide enough runtime to allow the film to qualify as a feature length movie without it. I’m glad they found a way to intertwine the two tales by the end, even if it was a bit odd. Overall, I think the film is okay, although ultimately pretty forgettable. C+

The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar
Rated PG for smoking
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Streaming on Netflix

While I normally don’t review short films, this is not your ordinary short film. In this 39-minute adventure, writer/director Wes Anderson tells the story, based on the tale by Roald Dahl, about Henry Sugar (Benedict Cumberbatch), a self-absorbed wealthy gentleman who discovers a fascinating way to make even more money, only to find it leaves him emptier inside. It’s a beautiful petite story told in only a way Wes Anderson can, with an incredible cast (including Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley and Dev Patel) and a few surprises up its sleeve. While it’s still his same quirky style, it turns out to be a magical experience with a great message, suitable for kids or adults of all ages. I’m a huge fan of Anderson’s and this kind of project only makes me love him even more. A

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of September 25, 2023

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of September 25, 2023

The Creator
Rated PG-13 for strong language, some bloody images and violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: None at time of writing
In Theaters

From writer/director Gareth Edwards (Rogue One) comes this epic sci-fi adventure that takes place several decades in the future after Artificial Intelligence is blamed for a nuclear blast that takes out Los Angeles and finds the U.S. in a war to exterminate all forms of A.I. This includes the thousands of robots walking the Earth, most of which live in New Asia, where A.I. has been fully adopted and integrated. Recruited to help take out a new weapon which has been developed to stop the extermination, Joshua (John David Washington) discovers that the weapon is actually a young A.I. child, and does everything he can to help her survive the onslaught. While Hollywood gives us a lot of sci-fi films, it is rare that we that we are gifted with brave and original movies from visionary filmmakers and studios willing to bankroll them. This is what makes films like Blade Runner, The Matrix and Interstellar so special. I think that it will become very obvious upon its release that The Creator will be accepted into that fold. Not only is the film relevant without being preachy, but it is also masterfully told with special effects that look almost too real not to be. It is an incredible motion picture filled with everything we love in big movies including a great story, superb acting and a burning intensity that doesn’t let up until the end. Hopefully this one will bring in a large enough audience, giving studios the confidence to take the chances necessary to give us more than just this kind of once or twice in a decade experience. A

Flora and Son
Rated R for brief drug use, sexual references and language throughout
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
In Theaters and Streaming on Apple TV+

From Director John Carney (Once, Begin Again) comes this new story about a young mother who struggles in her relationship with her troubled son who seems to always be in trouble with the law. When she buys him a guitar, thinking music might help him clean up his act, he refuses it and she instead decides to start taking lessons herself. Allowing music to positively change her life, she starts to focus on what can help her son also. Carney is so good at telling these little slice of life stories that act as sort of a modern type of musical. The end result is a kind of magic with a strong emotional pull that is very impressive. While much of the film is about music, there isn’t a lot of it here, especially compared to his other projects. But it still manages to use what it has to give you a very special ninety minutes. A-

No One Will Save You
Rated PG-13 for terror and violent content
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%
Streaming on Hulu

This alien attack film stars Kaitlyn Dever (Booksmart) as a young girl living in her presumably dead family’s home by herself with seemingly no friends to speak of. But one night when an alien invades her home, she must find a way to survive what seems to be a violent invasion. This is such an interesting little indie horror film. You don’t get much time at all to enjoy the peace and quiet before the aliens come calling and when they do, it is quite scary. Also, there are only a few words spoken during the entire film, with just action to serve its narrative. While the CG wasn’t that great, and the ending is a bit odd, the visitors are still horrifying and the film turns into a really intense adventure. This is largely due to the terrific job by Dever, whose excellent performance makes the film work very effectively. B+

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of August 28, 2023

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of August 28, 2023

Vacation Friends 2
Rated R for drug use, some sexual references and pervasive language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 22%
Streaming on Hulu

When the first Vacation Friends came out in 2021, I found it to be a hilarious and lovable comedy. I immediately gravitated toward it because after all, I’ve never been on a trip where we didn’t make friends with another couple and some of those relationships have lasted years. Obviously, the story is a worst-case scenario situation, but man was it funny. Coming back for more, our two couples (John Cena, Meredith Hagner, Lil Rel Howery and Yvonne Orji) are getting together for a resort stay in the Caribbean. But things start to go horribly wrong when Hagner’s criminal father (Steve Buscemi) shows up to recruit them all into a nefarious plot involving a local gang and a high dose of unsuspected danger. While there are some big laughs to be had, the film certainly doesn’t have the verve of its predecessor, and much of the humor fails to launch. One of the problems is that the bad behavior by Cena and Hagner is very toned-down to the point that they are greatly subdued. Their craziness served as the fuel to the first movie’s fire, and that fuel was missing here, for the most part. Also, the plot around the father is simply weak and unbelievable, and completely unnecessary. It’s not a bad film, but it certainly doesn’t deliver the goods nearly as well as it could have. C+

The Blackening Rated R for violence, pervasive language and drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
Available on disc and paid streaming

This hilarious horror/comedy focuses on a group of black friends who reunite for a Juneteenth weekend getaway in a remote cabin in the middle of nowhere. While there, they discover that there is a killer who intends to kill them if they can’t beat him in a game of black trivia. Going in, I thought this was going to be just a horror parody like Scary Movie. I quickly understood my mistake though as the film establishes itself as a smart and original mystery with a clever script and actors good enough to give it the gravity it needs to be taken seriously. While it’s not super-scary, it certainly makes up for that deficiency with a killer sense of humor and wit. And coming in at just over 90 minutes, the film gets its job done rapidly and efficiently. Overall, it’s an enjoyable experience that deserves to find a broader audience now that it’s playing in homes. B+

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of August 21, 2023

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of August 21, 2023

Blue Beetle
Rated PG-13 for sequences of action, language, some suggestive references and violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%
In Theaters

When Xolo Mariduena (Cobra Kai) comes home from college to visit his family after graduation, he finds them in a rut financially and decides to take on a thankless job to help them out. But when that job leads to the discovery of an alien artifact that takes over his body, he becomes a superhero who must stop the evil weapons manufacturer (Susan Sarandon) who will do anything to get the artifact back. This latest addition to the DC universe is going pretty deep into the bench to find a superhero most of us have never heard of in a universe that doesn’t quite fit in with its other heroes. Thankfully, its creative team does a fine job of serving up a very decent origin story, along with an enjoyable adventure in a world which most of its audience will probably want to sink more of its’ teeth into. Set in an imaginary city that we can only assume is supposed to resemble a futuristic Miami, rather than the El Paso-centered town of the comics, the mostly-Latino edge of the film is not only timely, but quite fun as well. The family are all more vibrant and full of life than most supporting characters we get in these types of films, and I especially loved his uncle and nana, played by George Lopez and Adriana Barraza, who bring much more than just comedy relief to the picture. While there are some moments that drag a bit, once you get into the third act, the film turns into an all-out party that you are glad you attended. With the DC universe very much in flux right now, who knows where this franchise will go, but hopefully the box office will give them a chance to see where they can take it. B

You Hurt My Feelings
Rated R for language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This new comedy from Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said, Can you Every Forgive Me?) stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a struggling writer/professor who thought she was in a blissful marriage until she accidentally overhears her husband (Outlander’s Tobias Menzies) telling his friend how much he dislikes her newest book she is trying to get published. Creating important but awkward conversations on the difference between honesty and encouragement, the couple must try to come to terms on what is more important in a relationship, brutal truth or making the other person feel better. What I love most about Holofcener’s movies is that while they look like (and get categorized as) romantic comedies, they are really neither romantic nor true comedy. They are just darn good adult stories focusing on real-world dilemmas we tend to get stuck in or should at least think about. In this case, the narrative is a poignant discussion point that will surely get its audience thinking, but in a way that at least lets you work it out in your head before the possibly awkward discussions that could come afterward. So while the characters are in deep turmoil, their journey is both organic and enjoyable as they get through it. That kind of authenticity is hard to find in films and certainly doesn’t fit the typical Hollywood mold. The movie certainly won’t put you in a state of euphoria or joy, but it will stick with you and possibly even help you down the line. B+

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of August 14, 2023

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of August 14, 2023

The Last Voyage of the Demeter
Rated R for bloody violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 51%
In Theaters

The newest addition to Universal’s monster movie family is this very simple story taken from the section of the book Dracula by Bram Stoker where Dracula is transported by boat from Romania to England. At first all seems easy and the crew is convinced that they will all get a generous bonus for an early and efficient arrival. But then things go horribly wrong as first the livestock are killed in grisly ways, followed by one crew member after another. Overall, the film ain’t great, but it’s not terrible either. Its biggest fault is its lack of creativity and surprise. It’s a cookie cutter story with lots of gore but a general lack of horror and suspense. The Dracula creature is well-crafted, but unfortunately not terrifying. That being said, it turns out to be a clever enough side story that feels like a good flashback sequence in a show where we know what happens next. It could have been Alien meets Master and Commander, but it doesn’t quite get there. What it does have going for it is a decent enough cast, including Corey Hawkins (In the Heights, The Tragedy of McBeth) and Liam Cunningham (Game of Thrones) in roles that actually add a slight bit of unexpected nuance to the film. It also has excellent production values including cinematography by Roman Osin (Pride & Prejudice) and music by the prolific composer Bear McCreary (The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power). I do feel director André Øverdal has made much scarier fare, such as The Autopsy of Jane Doe and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, but at least he keeps the story well-paced and interesting to watch. By the end you get what you expect, but at least it’s watchable. B-

Drops of God
Rate TV MA
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
Steaming on Apple TV+

If you are into great food and wine dramas such as The Bear and The Big Night, you must sink your teeth into this terrific new show on Apple TV+ which follows a young woman living in France who discovers that her estranged father, on his death bed, has left her the world’s most valuable wine collection, as well as his estate in Tokyo. The catch is that she can only claim it if she beats his favorite wine student, a young Japanese sommelier in a three-stage wine contest. To make the situation more complicated, she has the wine skills – but she can’t drink without having severe health issues. And if she loses, the student wins everything. Not only is the show full of beautiful aesthetics that will make you incredibly thirsty and travel-hungry, but it contains some wonderful and unpredictable turns that are marvelously delivered. By the end you get a fantastic tale, deliciously told. While the narrative might be guilty of laying out its cards a bit too early, it certainly keeps delivering the goods until the very end. A