REVIEW: ‘Turning Red’ absolutely rocks

Pixar has went back-to-back with great coming of age films, following up last year’s “Luca” with this superb animated feature.

Domee Shi, who helmed the Academy Award-winning short film “Bao”from 2018, directed and co-wrote this Pixar film. The movie is set in Toronto during 2002 and centers on Mei (Rosalie Chiang), a straight-A student who works hard to meet the high standards set by her mother (Sandra Oh).

At the same time, Mei is also a typical 13-year-old. She hangs out with a group of best friends and they enjoy boy bands and have crushes. She has a pretty good balance going on, but that begins to change when a mystical family spell that passes generation-to-generation turns her into a giant red panda.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Turning Red’ absolutely rocks”

REVIEW: ‘The Batman’ is a brilliant caped crusader story

Some of the best elements of the “Batman” interpretations by directors Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan are melded into the new crime epic featuring the Dark Knight.

In director Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” Robert Pattinson stars as Bruce Wayne, who spends his nights out in Gotham City as the caped crusader. The film picks up with him meeting with Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) after a night of fighting criminals to consult on a murder case.

The victim is the city’s mayor, and the suspect is the Riddler (Paul Dano), who leaves behind haunting clues. The killing sets Batman on an investigation, where he partners with Gordon and a cat burglar, Selina (Zoe Kravitz). The investigation brings him in conflict with the city’s underbelly, with the likes of the Penguin (Colin Farrell) in his way.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Batman’ is a brilliant caped crusader story”

REVIEW: Road movie ‘Dog’ succeeds with emotion and humor

Channing Tatum plays Jackson Briggs in this new dramatic comedy. Not to be confused with the Jackson “Jax” Briggs from the “Mortal Kombat” series.

Briggs is an Army Ranger who, since being discharged, has found it difficult to adapt to life back home. He’s tried to get work in military-related roles, but is often denied because of his post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis and other injuries.

At a memorial gathering for one of his friends and fellow soldiers, though, Briggs is able to ask his commanding officer to put in a recommendation for him to help get a job. The officer agrees, but in return, asks Briggs to take the late soldier’s military service dog to the funeral, being held in Arizona. Knowing it’s a long drive from the Washington state to Arizona, but wanting the work, Briggs reluctantly agrees.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Road movie ‘Dog’ succeeds with emotion and humor”

REVIEW: Mishandling of characters upend ‘Uncharted’ adaptation

As a person who stays mostly in Nintendo territory, I’m unfamiliar with the popular Playstation series “Uncharted.”

I have to imagine it’s a bit more compelling than this film, though.

Tom Holland stars as Nathan Drake, a young man who’s working as a bartender in New York City, with some side hustles, but dreams of more. As a child, he used to talk about lost treasures and how to find them with his brother, who he hasn’t seen in years.

The film picks up with Nathan being approached by Victor (Mark Wahlberg), a treasure-hunter who knew Drake’s brother. Victor asks for Nathan’s help in finding a specific treasure lost to history, which he agrees too. However, the journey is treacherous, with a rich and powerful man, Santiago (Antonio Banderas), also after the treasure.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Mishandling of characters upend ‘Uncharted’ adaptation”

REVIEW: Latest ‘Chainsaw Massacre’ is a total mess

This franchise has really only had one good sequel and that one had someone dual-wielding chainsaws. Something this movie, among other things, lacks.

“Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is supposed to be a direct sequel to the 1974 horror classic, ignoring all of the other pictures in the series. The film is set nearly 50 years after the original picture, and picks up with a group of young adults moving to a small, rural Texas town.

There, they plan to invite several other young professionals to revitalize a dilapidated community. Unfortunately, their presence ends up disturbing the fearsome killer Leatherface, who’s been in hiding since the conclusion of the first movie.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Latest ‘Chainsaw Massacre’ is a total mess”

REVIEW: ‘Worst Person in the World’ is a well-made Norwegian feature

“The Worst Person in the World” is far from the worst movie in the world.

This film, from Norway, stars Renate Reinsve as Julie, a young woman who’s having trouble deciding what to do in life. The movie starts with Julie studying to become a doctor, before switching majors to psychology. Early on in the movie, she does this again, deciding to pursue a career in photography.

Her romantic life is fairly similar. Early in the picture, she meets and begins a relationship with Aksel, a successful comic artist. As their relationship is humming along, though, she meets another man, Eivind (Herbert Nordrum). Like her academic career, Julie feels herself being pulled in more than one direction romantically.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Worst Person in the World’ is a well-made Norwegian feature”

REVIEW: ‘Blacklight’ lacks entertainment value

It’s time to spin the “what will Liam Neeson’s action character be?” wheel! We’ve had mob enforcer, air marshal and former Marine in recent years.

And it looks like this time it’s FBI agent!

Travis Block (Liam Neeson) is an extraction expert for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. When an agent’s cover is blown and they’re put in danger, Block is who the FBI calls to help them get out. While he’s great at his job, though, his work experience has caused friction with his family, notably with his daughter Amanda (Claire van der Boom).

Recent attempts to make things right with his daughter and granddaughter are interrupted, though, by his latest job, which is to bring in a rogue agent, Dusty (Taylor John Smith). However, when Block learns the FBI is actually after Dusty because he wants to leak information about the agency’s wrongdoings, the veteran agent turns his attention to what the bureau is hiding.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Blacklight’ lacks entertainment value”

REVIEW: ‘Death on the Nile’ isn’t a fit for the big screen

Trains are out and boats are in for this latest installment in the, um, Agatha Christie Cinematic Universe.

A follow-up to the 2017 film “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Death on the Nile” once again features the detective character Hercule Poirot (Kenneth Branagh). After a brief opening showing Poirot’s experiences in World War I, the film picks up with the detective enjoying a vacation in Egypt. It’s there where he meets up with Bouc (Tom Bateman), a friend of Poirot’s who was also on the Orient Express.

After the two cross paths, Bouc introduces the detective to the newly married couple of Linnet (Gal Gadot) an Simon (Armie Hammer). Poirot is then invited to the honeymoon, which is taking place on a river cruise with several other characters. As the name suggests, a person dies onboard and it sets off another mystery for Poirot to solve.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Death on the Nile’ isn’t a fit for the big screen”

REVIEW: ‘Marry Me’ has enough rom-com magic to win viewers over

My ears definitely perked up when I heard this film was actually based on a graphic novel, which I now want to read.

Jennifer Lopez is Kat in “Marry Me,” a pop music super star who’s preparing for a concert like no other. She plans to get married on stage in front of a huge crowd to her fiance, Bastian, who’s also a singer.

However, before the show, she learns that Bastian cheated on her. Upset and wanting a quick fix, she decides to pick a stranger in the crowd to marry instead. That stranger is Charlie (Owen Wilson), a school teacher and single father. The two at first see it as an in the moment, reversible mistake, but soon grow closer.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Marry Me’ has enough rom-com magic to win viewers over”

REVIEW: Despite making a mockery of science, ‘Moonfall’ entertains

There’s a cat in this movie named “Fuzz Aldrin.” I’m not saying that alone made the movie good, but it didn’t hurt.

Patrick Wilson plays Brian Harper in “Moonfall.” Once a decorated astronaut, the film picks up with Harper falling from grace as he appears to be responsible for a disaster in space. Harper attributes the calamity to a mysterious swarm of particles, but the heads of NASA don’t believe his story. That begins to change, though, when the Earth’s Moon moves off its course and on a crash trajectory with the planet, seemingly caused by the same swarm.

A man who predicted this would develop is KC Houseman (John Bradley), an unofficial scientist who’s been theorizing about the Moon for quite some time. Houseman and Harper eventually get into contact and decide that they need to take action, and they move forward in doing so with the help of Harper’s old colleague Jocinda Fowler (Halle Berry), who’s now a higher-up at NASA.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Despite making a mockery of science, ‘Moonfall’ entertains”