Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of June 17, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of June 17, 2019

Toy Story 4
Rated G
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98% at time of writing
In Theaters

Many have thought of Toy Story as an unforgettable trilogy with the third one serving as its crowning achievement, leaving zero need for any more films. But Pixar saw a fourth adventure for Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen) and their new human Bonnie, and now a new group of friends. As little Bonnie goes off to her first year in kindergarten, Woody plays protector-in-chief and helps her “make a friend” when she has trouble making friends. Her creation, using trash found in her class bin, is a spork named “Forky,” and seeing her love for her new toy, Woody makes it his mission to keep Forky safe from harm and by Bonnie’s side, even if by force. But the journey is ultimately Woody’s as he must make decisions and sacrifices he has never considered before. While Buzz is definitely left to be a supporting character, and the rest of the gang is only there for a few bits, the new characters Forky (Tony Hale), Duke Kaboom (Keanu Reeves), and Ducky and Bunny (played hysterically by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele), all prove to be great additions to the Toy Story universe. And then there’s a wonderful turn for Bo Peep (Annie Potts) who takes on a much larger part in this new adventure. The story is every bit as good as you’d expect from the brilliant story artists at Pixar and while I didn’t see anything extraordinarily new from the animation, the attention to detail in the world they created is staggering. So while I’m sure people will be overall pleased, they will also want to see this door finally closed. But I say if they can keep giving us heartwarming adventures that are this well-told, I’ll keep giving them a chance to impress me like they did here. A

Rated R for violence/terror, and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Writer/director Jordan Peele (Get Out) is back with another Hitchcockesque pic that from the outside looks like a straight out horror movie, but in reality is an arthouse intellectual thriller. The story follows Lupita Nyong’o and her family as they visit her childhood home, and namely a place of severe historical trauma for her. Once there, a family that looks exactly like them, begins to torment them. I was actually a little frightened going into this one, as the trailers are simply terrifying. But once I discovered that this was a social and political commentary, my brain quickly energized and I started to have a great time trying to figure out the deeper meaning behind each beat. If you can disengage your brain, you might find this to be just a weird scary movie, but I would highly advise taking the other path. Peele is proving himself to be a brilliant filmmaker with a much deeper thought process and vision than we could have possibly given him credit for from his comedic work. A-

Wonder Park
Rated PG for some mild thematic elements and action
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 34%
On Disc and Streaming

This animated box office flop follows a young girl who, along with her mother, dream up a magnificent amusement park, which her friends and her try to recreate in real life. But when her mom gets sick and goes to the hospital, she lets their creation die until one day she accidentally wanders into the park and must face the degradation the park has been through with her absence. Using her creativity she must try to bring the park back to vibrant life. Now don’t get me wrong – I love creativity. But there’s a point when things just get stupid and this film crossed that line. The characters aren’t well-thought out and the plot is moronic. And then there’s the whole mom dying thing, which could have gone in the direction of Guardians of the Galaxy or A Monster Calls, and instead forgets about the very premise of the mom being sick in the first place, leaving us a giggly girl who never really shows any emotion aside from excitement and so-called creativity. The whole thing turns out to be a lousy kids film hoping to fill a gap left by a vacancy of family films in theaters. D

Hotel Mumbai
Rated R for disturbing violence throughout, bloody images, and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Based on a horrific true story, Hotel Mumbai recounts the 2008 siege of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, India, where a group of Pakistani terrorists killed dozens of innocent people while holding the hotel in lock down for several days with little support from the Indian government. The movie looks at the sacrifices made by the hotel personnel and the guests in order to save as many lives as possible. While I had seen a blurb or two about this, I had no idea how horrible the event was, to the point that I spent a large chunk of time after going online just to find out how much really was true. It shocked me how relatively little information about it aired stateside. I was truly terrified watching the events unfold on screen and sickened by the senseless loss. While the characters were largely fictionalized, much of the drama was based on real stories and real people. My main problem was that while I’m sure this was a fairly faithful recreation, there was so much bloody violence that it almost seemed like a snuff film rather than a social and historical thriller. That being said, it’s a powerful piece of filmmaking that will bring you through a range of emotions including a great deal of empathy for the victims and a much larger amount of anger towards the terrorists. B+

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of June 10, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of June 10, 2019

Men In Black International
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action, some language and suggestive material
In Theaters

Gone are the days of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as the men wearing black suits, putting themselves in harm’s way to save the universe from deadly aliens. This time out respected MIB hero Chris Hemsworth takes on new recruit Tessa Thompson in order to thwart a deadly team of baddies from finding a hidden weapon that could deal devastation to Earth, or any planet it comes in contact with. Hemsworth, channeling his comedic side we saw in 2016’s Ghostbusters, isn’t quite as charismatic as Will Smith, but still manages to charm his way through the clunky action, making us smile along the journey. And while not a superstar, Thompson turns in yet another good performance as she continues to earn her Hollywood stripes by succeeding in bigger and bigger roles. This team certainly ultimately proves that there are multiple stories in the franchise worth telling and only the box office will reveal to us if a fifth one is to happen. The good news is that while I had very little hope of pulling out any enjoyment from this pic going in, I found myself mildly entertained by the end. B-

Captain Marvel
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief suggestive language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%

Available on Disc and Streaming
Marvel decided to throw in a last minute but pivotal piece to the Avengers saga this year by adding a new super hero to the End Game equation with mere weeks before the final chapter. To set up that piece though, Marvel needed an origin story for the most powerful superhero in their universe, and thus we get Captain Marvel. With a clever retro 80s spin, we find out where Captain Marvel came from and what her place is in the greater universe. Playing the part is Oscar-winner Brie Larson, along with supporting cast mates Samuel L Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn and Jude Law. There’s no doubt that the action and special effects are top notch, all of which steal the show at various times. While Larson is typically amazing, I can’t help but think they she overplays her confidence with a cockiness that does not become her. I also think that she has been made a bit too powerful. Still, I like what they did with the story and the setup for the big dance in End Game and I can’t wait to see what comes next for her. B

Captive State
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief language and drug material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 45%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Captive State takes place in a future world where hostile Alien forces have taken over the planet, using the government to control its citizens into submission. But when a small band of rebels attempts to fight back, their strategies are met with violent resolve. I have mixed feelings on this one. While I loved the horrifying world they created, I was completely confused by their character choices. They try to tie it all together in a neat little package at the end, but for the majority of the movie I couldn’t even tell who the main protagonist was or what the overall goal could be. And to make matters worse – I didn’t really care. My wish is that they could have provided a much stronger narrative in the exact same setting. C

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of May 27, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of May 27, 2019

Rated PG for some action/peril
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%
In Theaters

The newest addition to Disney’s live-action remakes is this take on Aladdin from Sherlock Holmes director Guy Ritchie. So far the remakes have been close to the originals (aside from the disappointing Dumbo), but still different enough to stand on their own. This time the similarities are the most noticeable with all of the classic songs present and only one big addition (sung in two parts). Where this one is different is Disney made the very wise decision to cast two relatively-unknown actors as Aladdin and Jasmine, with their casting based on talent rather than Hollywood status. After all, they were able to get Will Smith as the Genie, so landing two A-listers with less-than-stellar voices would have proved to be an unnecessary mistake that I’m glad they didn’t take. Ritchie’s action style is a bit much for some folks, but here I thought it to be a great attribute, adding a ton of visual flair to an already exciting musical. And Will Smith proves to be the perfect replacement for Robin Williams’s iconic genie, bringing to the character the same fun spirit, only with a different quirky personality. I was honestly a bit worried about this movie before seeing it, especially with how little buzz was out there. But I quickly fell in love, and while I know it’s only May, this is the most fun I’ve had at the movies in 2019 so far. A

Rated R for some violence and disturbing images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 59%
Available on Disc and Streaming

A sweet young woman (Chloe Grace Moretz) trying to make it on her own in New York City finds a purse one night on the subway and decides to track down the owner. Upon returning the purse to an older piano teacher (recent Oscar-winner Isabelle Huppert), the two become friends until the older woman’s secrets start to unfold. The story plays out like a strange little psychological thriller but never really gets scary enough as the turns are due more to the stupid decisions of the characters rather than an organic twist driven by a smart script. Both of the leading actresses do well with the material, but when the material isn’t great, that doesn’t help much. By the end, we are left with merely a forgettable Hitchcock wannabe. C

South Park: The Complete Twenty-Second Season
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%
Available on Disc

Yes it’s been 22 seasons now. This season Matt and Trey again went out of their way to offend as they covered school shootings and other acts of conveniently ignore violence, as well as Amazon and a not-so-subtle take on global warming featuring Al Gore and Man Bear Pig. The show is still funny, more than two decades later, and while still pushing buttons, the buttons are more and more socially conscious than ever before. Not every episode is a hit this season, but the writing and subject matter is more relevant than ever. B+

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of May 20, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of May 20, 2019

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
Rated PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This final picture in the How to Train Your Dragon trilogy follows Hiccup and the village of Berk as they attempt to find a secret and safe world for their dragon friends when a new and ominous force threatens their very existence. Writer/director Dean DeBlois has been consistent with this franchise since its beginning nearly a decade ago. The characters have remained lovable and well-crafted and the stories have remained interesting and enjoyable, for both kids and adults. This new creation is no different. As Hiccup and his friends enter adult-hood, we have gotten to watch them grow and mature as we fully empathize with their plight. If I have one major criticism it is in their choice of Grimmel as the new villain. While I love that he came with a female Light Fury, I thought he was no more menacing than some of their other adversaries from the movies and Netflix animated series. But at the end of the day, the film proves to be a worthy addition and finale to what has been a terrific set of films from Dreamworks. A-

The Upside
Rated PG-13 for suggestive content and drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 40%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Based on the much-beloved French film The Intouchables (currently ranked #40 on the list of IMDB’s Top Rated Movies), Kevin Hart plays a recently paroled ex-convict who becomes the live-in assistant to Bryan Cranston’s paralyzed billionaire. Since it is such a remarkable true story, there is a lot to appreciate here. Cranston and Hart are both completely believable in their roles and their overall chemistry is solid. Where the film goes south is in the screenplay and directing, where both seem to struggle with story and pacing. The film falls apart, then comes together, then falls apart again over and over. It relies on some great little moments between the two characters, but those moments can’t hold the movie together. Ultimately, the film proves to be a pale comparison to its 2012 French counterpart. C

Les Miserables
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%
Available on Disc and Streaming

While many movies and even a mega-hit Broadway musical have tackled the subject matter of Victor Hugo’s story of criminal-turned-hero Jean Valjean, none until now have been able to capture the spirit of the 1862 novel in such a complete manner. The main problem is there is only so much you can put into a two to three-hour movie when there is so much content to cover. While this new PBS/BBC Masterpiece production still misses some key elements, it beautifully covers the original material over six lushly-produced one-hour episodes. In the leading roles are Dominic West as Jean Valjean, Lily Collins as Fantine, recent Oscar-winner Olivia Colman as Madame Thenardier and David Oyelowo as Inspector Javert. Each does a magnificent job bringing their characters to life and adding to their part of one of the greatest stories ever written. Of exceptional note is Adeel Akhtar as Monsieur Thenardier, whose evil presence looms menacingly over the production. While it has been 30 years since I first read the book, it still remains my favorite, and this new television series truly does it justice. A+

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of May 13, 2019

Fighting with My Family
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual material, language throughout, some violence and drug content
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Based on the real-life story of WWE female wrestling Superstar Paige, this tale follows a young girl in England whose family life revolves around professional wrestling, and when she is given a chance to join the WWE, she must leave her family behind to chase her dream. It is practically unimaginable that a film about pro wrestling could be this good, but due to a fantastic cast including Vince Vaughn, Lena Headey, Nick Frost and Dwayne Johnson, as well as a fantastic turn from the relatively unknown Florence Pugh in the starring role, the film is elevated to a different level of quality than would be expected. It also helps to have the brilliant Stephen Merchant writing and directing this script that is crammed with inspiration and heart rather than the expected mindless ring action. It didn’t do much to make me want to turn to wrestling for my regular enjoyment, but it did help me better appreciate their world and I finished the movie having been thoroughly entertained. B+

Apollo 11
Rated G
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Apollo 11 is a documentary recently released into IMAX theaters as an event film that follows the events of the Apollo 11 moon landing from the moments just before the astronauts left Earth to the moments after their return. Using never-before-seen color footage, the film floats along without narration, making you feel like you are a first-hand observer of the momentous events taking place. Unfortunately, the film isn’t nearly as good at home as it was on a giant screen. While the content is the same, the experience is night and day. But it still a film worth watching, if not for the remarkable documentary style, then for its historical value. A-

Cold Pursuit
Rated R for strong violence, drug material, and some language including sexual references
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%
Available on Disc and Streaming

In this remake of the much better Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance (both directed by Hans Petter Moland), Liam Neeson goes after a drug cartel after his son’s death leads him down a successive path of violence to find and kill the man ultimately responsible. While quirky and at times slightly humorous, the movie ends up being just a long string of creative revenge killings and ultimately lacks the heart to make you apply much empathy to Neeson’s character. Also, the cast of Lauren Dern as his wife and Emmy Rossum as an investigating cop are both subjected here to minor and unimpressive roles not worthy of their names and talents. I’m pretty sure that the filmmakers really thought they had a Fargo on their hands here, or at least a film as good as its Scandinavian predecessor, but the project doesn’t even come close and instead we get a mediocre, unnecessary and forgettable crime pic. C-

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of May 6, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of May 6, 2019

Pokemon Detective Pikachu
Rated PG for action/peril, some rude and suggestive humor, and thematic elements
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73% at time of writing
In Theaters

While I kind of like the Pokemon Go app, especially the bonding time it gives me with my family, I have always abhorred the animated Pokemon cartoons. The frenetic energy and nonsensical repetitive plots have always made me leave the room when someone is watching them. So I was apprehensive at best about this new Pokemon movie. But this one is truly different. The story follows a young man (talented newcomer Justice Smith) who goes on a search for what might have happened to his father when he mysteriously goes missing and is presumed dead. But when he discovers his father’s Pokemon partner Pikachu, voiced here by the amazing Ryan Reynolds, the two go on a journey to figure out what might have happened. There is a lot of silliness everywhere you look here, but the plot is strong enough to satisfy most film lovers while still creating an eye candy environment that will be adored by any child watching it. Will you understand the Pokemon universe after watching it? No – and trust me – you don’t want to. But you should have an appreciation of it when all is said and done, and also a greater tolerance to their strange little world. B-

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Five years after the events of the box office smash that was the first Lego Movie, all is well in Bricksburg when LEGO DUPLO invaders from outer space wreak havoc on their world, forcing Emmett (Chris Pratt), Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett) and friends to go on a new adventure to try to save their homeland. Once again, the story is clever (although not as much as the first) and the tie-in to the toys’ human owners is surprisingly heartwarming. Much of the plot is a bit random (which probably makes sense due to who in the story is in control of what will happen) and at times you just have to go along with it, much like you would if you were watching your own kids play. But thankfully the movie is overall enjoyable, while at the same time providing good clean entertainment for the kids. B

What Men Want
Rated R language and sexual content throughout, and some drug material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 45%
Available on Disc and Streaming

In 2003, Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show had a raunchy but hilarious bit about what would happen if the 2000 Mel Gibson film What Women Want flipped and had a woman who could hear the thoughts of men. The sketch is a short elevator ride with a beautiful woman hearing the dirty thoughts of every man surrounding her and the point is well-taken: men can be pigs with one-track minds. This film expands that as Taraji P. Henson gains the ability to hear men’s thoughts and while disgusted at first, she learns to use it to her advantage in her job as a sports agent. Unfortunately, the project turns out to be a predictable and sloppy comedy with very few laughs as you watch Henson move through her arc, one misstep at a time. I’m sure there’s a better film to be made here, but this one is mediocre at best, and far less funny than the 46 second Chappelle’s Show segment. C-

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of April 29, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of April 29, 2019

Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki
Unrated but equivalent to G
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%
Available on Disc
In Japanese with English Subtitles

Arguably the greatest living animator, Hayao Miyazaki, has retired from his day to day of making some of the worlds most famous animated films such as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and My Neighbor Totoro. This documentary literally follows him around his home in Japan as we learn from his simple life lessons and observe his desire to go back to work to keep creating and reshaping his art. So in order to not go away silently, he makes his way back into the studio to create a new short story using his traditional hand-drawn style crossed with computer-aided graphics. While non-fans might find the movie quite a bore, the targeted audience here will discover much excitement in this incredibly intimate portrait. You don’t necessarily get the recipe for the secret sauce, but you do get a truly great glimpse of the life behind the legend. A-

Rated R for language throughout, violence, some sexual content and brief drug use
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This downer of a cop drama stars Nicole Kidman as a modern homicide detective who constantly flashbacks to her younger days as an undercover cop infiltrating a California gang after the two worlds intersect. The storyline follows a convoluted and confusing plot down a path this isn’t much fun to tread. There is certainly some good drama here, and once the story become more clear, it does basically come together, but it is definitely not an enjoyable journey. Still, Kidman tackles a role here that is very different for her and she does it well. The rest of the cast is strong also, but the darkness of the film almost overpowers it. It’s a good enough crime drama as long as you are in the right mood to take it in. C+

Alien: 40th Anniversary Edition
Rated R for sci-fi violence, gore and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%
Available on Disc and Streaming

It’s hard to believe that this sci-fi horror classic is now 40 years old, but when I thought back to the countless times I’ve watched it over the years, I realized that I’ve never seen a non-grainy version. Even on blu-ray. It has always looked old to me. Still a great film – but old. If that’s what you are used to – you must check out this new 4K version. Every frame looks pristine, almost like the movie was made yesterday. This stunning look and sound, applied to both the original theatrical and the 2003 directors cut, as well as several deep-dive features, make this a must own masterpiece that you will love to keep revisiting. A

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of April 15, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives by Danny Minton

Week of April 15, 2019

Disneynature: Penguins
Rated G
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
In Theaters

You have to admit that Disney has really stuck to its commitment to keep the Disneynature brand alive and kicking. Nearly every Earth Day, Disney has put together a fantastic narrative based on animal footage their wildlife photographers capture in the wild. In this case, years of fieldwork in Antarctica has led to a story of an Adelie penguin named Steve who joins millions of his fellow penguins swimming, fishing, nesting, mating, and raising babies. If it sounds a lot like March of the Penguins, it kind of is – just more Disneyfied. While March was a much more substantial film, Penguins tries more to be cute and cuddly. Much of the narration by Ed Helms is more corny than it should be, and sometimes beneath the level of the production, but the images captured on film are at times absolutely magnificent, making up for any rolls of the eyes you will inevitably give up. I never grow tired of experiencing the wonders of God’s universe and this documentary is a prime example of just how strange and beautiful even the most remote parts of our planet can be. B+

Rated PG-13 for violence including some bloody images, thematic elements, and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 37%
Available on Disc and Streaming

At the end of M. Night Shyamalan’s last film Split, we discovered that James McAvoy’s multiple personality villain was part of the larger superhero universe with Unbreakable’s Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis. When all three are brought together in an insane asylum, each tries to take their place in said universe in the hope of a major showdown. I’m sorry but I just don’t get it. I think McAvoy’s performances in this and Split are absolutely fantastic, but the story here is just plain stupid. And to make the stupid worse – it takes itself very, very seriously. The cast of talented actors really put themselves into their roles, but the script is a waste of all of their abilities, and its audience’s time. It’s almost as if Shyamalan has become so focused on the surprise that he’s forgotten how to craft a narrative worthy of one. D

The Kid Who Would Be King
Rated PG for fantasy action violence, scary images, thematic elements including some bullying, and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Loved by critics but ignored by audiences, The Kid Who Would Be King follows a young British school student who stumbles upon a sword buried in a stone, and upon removal discovers he is more important than he could have ever dreamed. With the help of the legendary wizard Merlin (Patrick Stewart) he helps take on the evil enchantress Morgana in order to save England from disaster. This one was a really nice surprise. The story was stronger than I could have imagined and the acting was very good from this relatively unknown cast (with the exception of Stewart who is both known and apparently infallible). The film is much darker and even scarier than I could have expected, so I wouldn’t necessarily feed it to the youngins, but your older children will eat it up for sure. B+

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of April 8, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of April 8, 2019

On the Basis of Sex
Rated PG-13 for some language and suggestive content
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%
Available on Disc and Streaming

While critics liked this docudrama about the rise of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, it basically fizzled at the box office, probably because of its being released into a crowded field of better films, and possibly because a movie about law and politics is just too much for most audiences right now. But regardless, Bader Ginsberg is a fascinating subject, and the case that would eventually land her in the Supreme Court is still relevant today, maybe even more so. While it plays much like a made-for-TV movie, its A-list cast, including Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer, and terrific production elevate it to a film suitable for a theatrical release, but it might have received a better audience and awards consideration at HBO or Netflix. But it does make for a good drama, and an educational one at that which will probably give it legs as future students learn about our government and its many evolutions. B

Rated PG for thematic elements including some scary images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This Oscar-nominated animated film from Japan tells the story of a bratty young boy who discovers a magical garden where his baby sister, now in older form, takes him on a journey through space and time to uncover his family’s long-winding story. Simply put – this is a lovely story which is well-told and beautifully animated. Its creative rhythm might leave some audiences scratching their heads, and it does get a little weird and even disturbing at times, but it turns out to be a movie where you tend to drift off on your own journey as you try to place yourself into the boy’s. A-

A Dog’s Way Home
Rated PG for thematic elements, some peril and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 62%
Available on Disc and Streaming

So apparently several cities in Colorado have a pit bull ban and this story follows the life a stray pit bull puppy who is discovered in Denver and taken in by its rescuer. But when the city threatens to put it down, the dog is sent far away where it escapes and attempts to travel through the wilderness to find its person. It’s a familiar formula, and just like any movie in this sub-genre, it is a manipulative tear jerker. But at least the film gives us enough of a change to become watchable and even, at times, likable. I especially enjoyed the relationship with the cougar, which from the trailer looked stupid, but made sense within the context of the actual story. While I wouldn’t want to subject myself to a film like this too often, now and again I can handle it – especially if my kid is loving it. B-

Popcorn Perspectives – Week of April 1, 2019

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of April 1, 2019

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action, language, and suggestive material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
In Theaters

With DC trying to fill out their theatrical comic universe, it was a great shock that Shazam! was going to get the big screen treatment, but the studio brilliantly came up with a tongue-in-cheek plot to make up for the cheesiness of its subject. Here a young boy living in a foster home finds himself mysteriously whisked away to a hidden cave where a wizard turns him into an adult and gives him super powers. Not knowing what to do with those powers, or even the extent of them, he does what many a fifteen-year-old would do: buy beer and go to a strip club. But when a super villain comes along to steal his powers and possibly harm his foster family, he grows up and faces the challenge head on. When I heard that this was one of the most talked-about films at Comic Con this past year, I thought it was a joke, but sure enough – Warner Brothers and DC took a huge chance and I think it will pay off big time. The movie is thrilling, funny, juvenile (in a good way) and warm-hearted. I think the trailers make it look a lot more kid-friendly than it actually is, but even its scary nature is more like Scooby Doo or Ghost Busters than Dark Knight. The movie is quite literally an unexpected blast! B+

Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action violence
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This Transformers prequel lays out the story of Bumblebee’s introduction to Earth as he escapes the planet Cybertron and hides out in a junk yard until a young girl (Hailee Steinfeld) takes him home in the hopes of fixing him up. Of course the two make friends and all is well until a couple of evil Decepticons find him and attempt to destroy him before he can accomplish his mission. To me, this is a real head-scratcher. While it did fairly well world-wide, in the US it had a relatively poor showing. And yet this is easily the best Transformers movie we’ve been given to date, with a fun retro-style story, better than decent acting, a plot that at least makes sense and a reasonable running time. It’s the film we’ve been waiting for since the franchise started – and yet few folks went to see it. Perhaps its audience is a bit burnt out due to the overlong and mediocre offerings we’ve been given so far. But hopefully a larger audience will get to watch it now that it’s hitting living rooms. B+

The Mule
Rated R for language throughout and brief sexuality/nudity
Rotten Tomatoes Score 70%
Available on Disc and Streaming

This latest adventure from director and star Clint Eastwood follows a retiree with familial regrets who is offered a job from a Mexican cartel to carry drugs across the country in his inconspicuous truck. Seeing an opportunity to buy his way back into his family’s lives, he does more and more trips, each with increasing danger. In the bones of this project is a decent movie with an interesting story, but unfortunately, for every good decision in the process, a bad one exists also. The film feels sloppy at times, showing the mark of a director who just wants to do one take and move on, rather than get the scene right. Also, the family moments feel contrived and messy, showing signs of bad writing throughout. Finally, and I’m sure I’ll get roasted for saying this, but Eastwood might not have been the best choice to star here. He has some great moments, but there is inconsistency in his acting, just as there is in his directing. Like he just wants to get though with the damned thing and call it quits for the day. C