REVIEW: ‘Scream’ doesn’t surpass recent horror counterparts, but still satisfies

Nearly a decade after Wes Craven directed his final “Scream” movie, the late filmmaker’s legacy lives on with a fifth installment for the franchise.

Audiences take a trip back to Woodsboro in “Scream,” set 25 years after the first movie that had the same title. This film starts out much like the original did, with a teenager, Tara (Jenna Ortega), being terrorized by a villainous character in a Ghostface mask.

Unlike the first movie, though, Tara survives and is hospitalized. This captures the attention of not only her sister Sam (Melissa Barrera), but the familiar trio of Sidney (Neve Campbell), Gale (Courteney Cox) and Dewey (David Arquette) as well. These characters converge on Woodsboro with the goal of uncovering who the new Ghostface is as attacks continue.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Scream’ doesn’t surpass recent horror counterparts, but still satisfies”

REVIEW: Star cast unable to salvage below average ‘355’

If you like McGuffin hunts, then “The 355” might be the perfect movie for you.

Jessica Chastain stars as Mace in “The 355,” a CIA agent tracking the location of a device that can practically hack any computer system in the world, from transportation programs to weapon launches. After the death of her field partner, Mace doubles down on her efforts to recover the device.

Those efforts bring her in contact with other agents from several intelligence organizations. The agents include Graciela (Penelope Cruz) from Columbia, Lin (Fan Bingbing) from China, Marie (Diane Kruger) from Germany and Khadijah from England (Lupita Nyong’o). While they are at odds to begin, the agents eventually decide to work together.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Star cast unable to salvage below average ‘355’”

REVIEW: Don’t bother checking in to fourth ‘Hotel Transylvania’ film

The fourth and final “Hotel Transylvania” was initially set for a theatrical release, but this approach was later cancelled, with Sony Pictures instead taking a digital route.

It makes sense, because this has all the makings of a straight-to-home-video animated movie.

The installment takes place not long after the events of the third movie. Dracula (voiced now by Brian Hull), is still running the hotel and is now living there with his wife Erica Van Helsing (Kathryn Hahn). At the movie’s outset, Dracula is considering retiring, and in the process, handing the keys to his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and son-in-law Johnny (Andy Samberg).

However, Dracula is nervous about doing so, as Johnny is not a monster. Johnny soon learns this and decides find  a way to turn himself into a monster. He succeeds, but this move accidentally turns other monsters, including Dracula, into humans. Determined to set things back to normal, Dracula and Johnny set off on an adventure.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Don’t bother checking in to fourth ‘Hotel Transylvania’ film”

REVIEW: Meta-filled ‘Matrix’ sequel stumbles despite good ideas

Birth, life and death was the course of the original “Matrix” trilogy, so a “Resurrection” nearly 20 years later is a logical step.

Familiar faces return in the latest “Matrix” feature, including the series hero Neo (Keanu Reeves), although now he appears to be living a normal life as Thomas Anderson in a regular office job. The audience soon learns, through a few new characters, that Neo is actually back in a version of the Matrix.

It turns out some events happened in the real world since the end of the third film, “Matrix Revolutions,” which resulted in the Matrix system continuing on in a new capacity. The film follows how the new characters interact with Neo and begin showing him his past, which results in him wanting a different future.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Meta-filled ‘Matrix’ sequel stumbles despite good ideas”

REVIEW: Technically sound ‘Tragedy of Macbeth’ too inaccessible at times

I felt like I was drinking a 40 oz in the auditorium, because this film has a whole lot of Olde English.

Based on William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth,” “Tragedy” was written and directed by Joel Coen, with Denzel Washington playing the titular character. The film is a fairly straightforward retelling of the story, with Washington’s Lord Macbeth having a vision of ascending to the throne of Scotland.

That prophecy becomes fulfilled, and as the story goes, Macbeth’s reign turns out to be a difficult one. Soon after he takes the crown, he becomes paranoid and begins taking actions that only lead to more trouble.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Technically sound ‘Tragedy of Macbeth’ too inaccessible at times”

REVIEW: ‘Mass’ is an emotionally charged film with a great ensemble

While “Mass” is simply a film with four people in a room having a conversation, it has more tension than most of the other movies released in 2021.

“Mass” is about a meeting between two sets of parents whose children were involved in a school shooting. Jay (Jason Isaacs) and Gail (Martha Plimpton) are parents who lost their son in the incident.

Linda (Ann Dowd) and Richard (Reed Birney), meanwhile, are the parents of the shooter, who also died during the event. Over the course of the film, the two discuss what led to the school shooting and how it has impacted them.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Mass’ is an emotionally charged film with a great ensemble”

REVIEW: Cage shines in truffle trouble drama ‘Pig’

Nicholas Cage has had ups and downs in his career over the last decade, with some real lows in there (“Season of the Witch”), but he shows in this movie that he still has the acting prowess that won him an Oscar in the 90s.

Cage stars as Rob in “Pig,” a man who lives a secluded life in the Pacific northwest. He spends his days hunting for truffles with his foraging pig, and sells his finds to a single buyer, Amir (Alex Wolff), for simple supplies.

His day-to-day routine is shattered, though, when his pig is stolen in the middle of the night. With a reluctant Amir providing assistance, Rob sets out to get his pig back by any means necessary. However, his journey takes him back to a world he left behind, digging up his past in the process.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Cage shines in truffle trouble drama ‘Pig’”

REVIEW: ‘C’mon C’mon’ is moving, heartfelt cinema

Can we pretend Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar was for this movie instead of “Joker?”

Phoenix stars in “C’mon, C’mon,” the new film from writer/director Mike Mills. In the film, Phoenix plays Johnny, a podcaster whose show centers on opinions of the youth. Johnny is often traveling across the country because of his job to interview students about their outlook on the world.

His career is interrupted, though, when his sister Viv (Gaby Hoffmann) asks for help. Viv is needing to take care of her husband, who’s going through a difficult time with mental health. As a result, she needs Johnny to help look after her son, Jesse (Woody Norman).

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘C’mon C’mon’ is moving, heartfelt cinema”

REVIEW: The past looms large in quality Netflix entry ‘Lost Daughter’

Longtime actress Maggie Gyllenhaal has made her feature directorial debut with this new Netflix film, and it’s a solid starting point.

Leda, portrayed by Olivia Colman, is the star of the “The Lost Daughter.” A writer and a professor, Leda is on a vacation in Greece during the film for some time to herself.

As she’s settling in, she meets another family who’s on vacation. As Leda begins to interact with the family more, mostly with the matriarch who has a young daughter, it causes her to look back on her own past, and the decisions she made as a parent.

Continue reading “REVIEW: The past looms large in quality Netflix entry ‘Lost Daughter’”

REVIEW: Paul Thomas Anderson serves up one of year’s best with ‘Licorice Pizza’

Sometimes a good movie will introduce a new talent on screen.

It’s an even bigger treat when two new performers are introduced and give stellar performances.

That’s the case with “Licorice Pizza,” where first time performers Cooper Hoffman and Alana Haim star. Hoffman plays Gary, a teen actor with a ton of ambition. Despite being 15, Gary has a knack for hustling with small business schemes.

The film picks up in 1973, with Gary meeting Haim’s character Alana, a 25-year-old photography assistant. The two form an initial bond and from there, start working together on Gary’s business ideas. The film follows their relationship through the ups and downs of their lives during the summer months.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Paul Thomas Anderson serves up one of year’s best with ‘Licorice Pizza’”