REVIEW: Pros outweigh cons with 9/11 drama ‘Worth’

For many Americans who lost loved ones on September 11, the impacts were long lasting, partially because of the ensuing financial matters.

In “Worth,” audiences are shown the government program set up to provide monetary support to those families.

In this film based on a true story, Michael Keaton stars as Ken Feinberg. A DC lawyer, Feinberg volunteers to helm a government program designed to provide funding to families who lost loved ones in the attacks, as well as survivors.

As part of the program, Feinberg and his team form an algorithm, determining how many dollars each family is set to receive. However, the algorithm is met with criticism for how it appears to value each life differently based on income.

The main criticism is driven by a widow-turned-activist, Charles (Stanley Tucci), who lost his wife in the attacks. The film follows how the two try to resolve their differences and improve the program.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Pros outweigh cons with 9/11 drama ‘Worth’”

REVIEW: Maniacal third act makes ‘Malignant’ worth watching

“Malignant” may not be the scariest movie of the year, or of the past few years, but what it leads up to certainly makes it a memorable horror experience.

The flick follows the story of Madison (Annabelle Walis), a woman with an unclear past who lives in Seattle with her Husband. It’s clear from the get-go that their marriage is strained and the film opens with them having a fight.

That night, Madison’s husband is murdered and she has a vision of it happening. From that day on, more murders begin taking place and each time Madison has horrible visions of it taking place. As this happens, Madison begins to dig more into her past to see what the connection is.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Maniacal third act makes ‘Malignant’ worth watching”

REVIEW: ‘Shang Chi’ is sufficient, but not sensational

In 2008, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie featured the Ten Rings as an antagonistic organization.

More than a decade later, we finally get a look at the group’s true leader, and his family.

Tony Leung stars as Xu Wenwu in “Shang-Chi,” a man who has lived for centuries thanks to his 10 magical rings he wields. For most of his life, Wenwu had been focused on conquest, leading an army known as the Ten Rings. However, this changes when he meets Ying Li, a woman from a mystical land.

Wenwu ends his warrior ways as he gets married to Ying Li and they have two children, one being Shang Chi (Simu Liu). However, following the loss of a family member, Wenwu once again takes his old mantle while also training Shang Chi to be a skilled warrior. But when the time comes for Shang Chi to go out on Ten Rings a mission, he opts instead to leave his family and the Ten Rings organization and start a new life in the United States.

At the movie’s start, though, Shang Chi’s old life comes calling.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Shang Chi’ is sufficient, but not sensational”

REVIEW: Poor ending negates potential of ‘Night House’

There are some movies where the execution of an ending can be so integral that it can make or break the feature.

That’s the case with “The Night House,” and not in a good way.

Rebecca Hall plays Beth in this thriller, a high school teacher who recently lost her husband to suicide. Beth is trying to move on from the tragedy, but she continues to reside at the home her husband, Owen (Evan Jonigkeit), built on the lake, which leaves her with constant reminders.

Those reminders begin to manifest as visions for Beth, who begins to see frightening things related to her late husband in the midnight hours. Because of what she sees in the night, she begins looking into whether her husband had a secret life or not.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Poor ending negates potential of ‘Night House’”

REVIEW: Compelling and creepy ‘Candyman’ is a success

Sometimes, modern horror sequels to older properties can be massive disappointments, such as 2013’s “Texas Chainsaw.”

Fortunately, that’s not the case with the new “Candyman,” penned by Jordan Peele.

This film serves as a sequel to the original “Candyman” from 1992. This time around, the protagonist is Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), an artist living in Chicago with his girlfriend Brianna (Teyonah Parris). Finding himself in artist block territory lately, McCoy decides to visit a northern Chicago housing project for inspiration.

While there, he meets a local named William (Colman Domingo), who tells McCoy the legend of the Candyman spirit. The legend ends up being a spark for McCoy who begins making art based on Candyman. However, his spark of creativity ends up reigniting the old Candyman spirit itself.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Compelling and creepy ‘Candyman’ is a success”

REVIEW: ‘The Protégé’ provides thrills despite plot issues

More action movies with Maggie Q please.

Anna (Q) is the protagonist in “The Protégé,” an elite assassin who works alongside her friend and mentor Moody (Samuel L. Jackson). The two are exceptionally efficient in their work and the film picks up with them successfully completing another mission.

As the film gets underway, Anna begins researching a new job, but soon after finds Moody murdered. With revenge in mind, Anna travels back to her homeland of Vietnam, where there may be some clues as to who killed her mentor. During her journey, she comes across Rembrandt (Michael Keaton), an assassin who works for another involved party.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Protégé’ provides thrills despite plot issues”

REVIEW: ‘Free Guy’ entertains but has fleeting impact

Movies about video games or films where the reality has elements of video games can be hit or miss. Sometimes you can get a “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.” Other times you get a “Serenity” or “Pixels.”

Fortunately, “Free Guy” leans a bit more toward the former.

“Free Guy” takes place in two realms of existence, one digital and one real. In the latter, Jodie Comer plays Millie, a young woman who’s living on hard times after the video game developer Antwan (Taika Waititi) stole her idea. That idea for a game was created by her and her best friend Keys (Joe Keery), who now works for Antwan.

Meanwhile, Guy (Ryan Reynolds), is a non-playable character in the video game owned by Antwan. While Guy is mainly programmed to be a normal bank employee in a violent video game, one day he begins to evolve and becomes self aware of the world around him. With that new knowledge, he begins playing the game himself, getting the attention of Millie. Millie soon learns that Guy’s programming is the key to exposing Antwan.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Free Guy’ entertains but has fleeting impact”

REVIEW: Hudson’s stunning performance not enough to fully salvage generic ‘Respect’

Aretha Franklin was a powerful force in music and Civil Rights, and this movie certainly touches on both of those aspects.

One just wishes the quality of the film had been above that of a standard biopic.

“Respect” mainly follows Franklin’s (Jennifer Hudson) childhood and roughly the first 10 to 15 years of her career. The film opens with Franklin losing her mother and the impact the death leaves on her.

From there, it follows how music helped Franklin open up again after her mother’s death. Then, the picture focuses on how Franklin went from a lead singer at her father’s (Forest Whitaker) church to a struggling singer, and then finally breaking through to success.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Hudson’s stunning performance not enough to fully salvage generic ‘Respect’”

REVIEW: ‘Suicide Squad’ succeeds under Gunn’s direction

Considering there was another movie released just a few years earlier, I figured they would have come up with another title to set this “Suicide Squad” apart than just adding a “The.”

But it works for Ohio State, so, maybe it’s fine here.

The Suicide Squad” follows a new group of convicts turned mercenaries working for government official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) for a chance of reducing their sentence. This group includes a pair of top tier elite assassins in Peacemaker (John Cena) and Bloodsport (Idris Elba), as well as a human shark hybrid (voice by Sylvester Stallone), a woman who has a device to control rats (Daniela Melchior) and a man who can shoot colorful energy bolts (David Dastmalchian).

Along for the ride with this Suicide Squad team is their government chaperone Col. Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman) and the infamous Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). This time around, the crew is tasked with taking down the dictator of a remote island who has fallen into control of a dangerous scientific research facility.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Suicide Squad’ succeeds under Gunn’s direction”

REVIEW: ‘Stillwater’ stalls due to poor narrative choices

Films inspired by a true story often take artistic liberties, which is perfectly fine. They better be well executed, though.

In this case, “Stillwater” was inspired by the story of Amanda Knox, an American woman falsely convicted on the charge of murdering a fellow exchange student in Italy. Abigail Breslin portrays Allison in “Stillwater,” an American woman in France who’s been in prison for four years.

Allison was convicted of murdering her roommate and classmate from a French university, although she maintains her innocence. Also convinced of her innocence is her dad, Bill (Matt Damon). The movie picks up with Bill visiting Allison in jail. During his stay, he learns there might be more evidence to prove her innocence and decides to stay, in case a development happens.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Stillwater’ stalls due to poor narrative choices”