REVIEW: Tarantino’s fantasy version of ‘Hollywood’ is mostly worth checking out

The year 2016 brought audiences films like “La La Land,” “Hail, Caesar,” and “The Nice Guys,” featuring stories ranging from crime to comedy to drama in Los Angeles. Perhaps Director Quentin Tarantino was inspired by that year in film, because his latest feature “Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood” contains all three.

The movie primarily follows two fictional characters working in the Los Angeles area. Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an actor known for his work in western TV and a few action B-movies. Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), meanwhile, is his stunt double and best friend. Unfortunately for Rick, he’s not in high demand anymore and finds himself doing smaller roles, often portraying the villain of the week.

Rick still lives in a nice house, though, and his neighbor just so happens to be Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie). As Rick’s career has been on a decline, Tate meanwhile has a career taking off in the year 1969. With all of this going on, there’s a third element lingering in the background, the Manson Family cult taking up residence in LA.

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REVIEW: Real life ‘Lion King’ is mostly lifeless

All of my worries were confirmed.

Those who have watched the 1994 animated classic will find themselves in familiar territory here. James Earl Jones plays the role of Mufasa again in “The Lion King,” and as the title implies, is a lion who’s king of a large amount of land. Mufasa’s Pride Lands are thriving thanks to his leadership and he now has a son, Simba to inherit the kingdom.

Unfortunately, the monarchy is thrown into chaos by Mufasa’s plotting brother Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who wants to take the throne. This leaves Simba (JD McCary and later Donald Glover) in a period of exile.

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REVIEW: ‘Stuber’ is a trip that won’t earn high ratings

Another summer buddy cop flick is upon us and unfortunately, “Stuber” doesn’t take a spot on the top shelf of the genre.

Nanjiani plays Stu in the picture, a guy working a dead-end job at a sporting good store who moonlights as an Uber driver. While he does his best to accommodate passengers, Stu seems to have trouble attaining the elusive five star rating. Meanwhile, police officer Vic (Bautista), recently had eye surgery and should be resting, but gets a tip on solving a case he’s been working on for years.

Because he can’t drive with with his recovering eye-sight, he orders an Uber and Stu just happens to be his ride. While the two have trouble getting along, Vic’s case ropes them both into a situation where they have to work together to survive and take down a crime kingpin.

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REVIEW: ‘Crawl’ delivers solid creature entertainment

Florida Gators, well known for their basketball and football abilities, along with terrorizing families in hurricanes.

The types of gators featured in “Crawl” refer to the latter, although a horror movie with Tim Tebow would be entertaining.

Anyway, “Crawl” tells the story of Haley (Kaya Scodelario), a college swimmer who’s just wrapping up practice as a dangerous hurricane starts moving in on Florida. The campus and pretty much everyone else in the area opt to evacuate, but Haley finds out her dad Dave (Barry Pepper) hasn’t been answering his phone and could still be in the path of the storm.

Haley travels to her home town and in fact does find her dad at her childhood house. The problem is that Dave has been severely injured in a crawl space by an alligator which is still around the area. With the storm producing floods as time goes on, Haley and her father are in a fight for survival, both against rising water and more gators brought in as a result.

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REVIEW: ‘Midsommar’ is as stylish as it is suspenseful

Whoa nelly does this one get wild.

Florence Pugh plays Dani in “Midsommar,” the second feature film from director Ari Aster who last year helmed the fantastic “Hereditary.” Dani is a college student who, in the first act, goes through a major tragedy in her life. The subsequent depression Dani goes through becomes a point of stress between her and her boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor).

However, she gets an opportunity to get away for awhile by traveling abroad to Sweden to spend time at a rural town by way of an invitation from their friend Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren). Dani, Christian, along with their friends Josh (William Jackson Harper) and Mark (Will Poulter) decide to go with Pelle for the trip, both to study the culture and have some fun. While the town they go to seems to be just a calm place holding a midsummer festival, though, the lead characters soon learn about some rather disturbing rituals by the locals.

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REVIEW: Latest ‘Spider-Man’ adventure weaves a fun international web

After the big, full meal that “Avengers: Endgame” was, having a smaller, simpler movie like “Spider-Man: Far From Home” works nicely as a dessert.

The latest flick starring the web-slinger seemingly starts at least a few months or so after the events of “Endgame.” The people of Earth are starting to get back to their regular lives and the world is seemingly getting back to peace. There are those few who are having trouble adjusting, though, as five years passed since the first and second snaps.
For those falling through societal cracks, May Parker (Marisa Tomei) is running an organization to assist people who need help adjusting.

Her nephew Peter (Tom Holland), also known as Spider-Man, is trying to help where he can, as well as handle his time as a student. However, he is exhausted from his experiences fighting in the Infinity War and is still mourning the death of Tony Stark. Because of the situation, Peter is looking forward to a class trip to Europe, not only to relax, but also to confess to the girl he likes, MJ (Zendaya). The issue is that another threat seems to be coming and Peter might be forced to use his web-shooters on his trip.

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REVIEW: One can just move on to tomorrow, because ‘Yesterday’ doesn’t offer much

An Oscar and Golden Globe winning director, a writer with several charming hits, along with a fantastic concept ripe for all sorts of possibilities. On paper, “Yesterday” looked like a slam dunk, which makes it a total shame that it turned out so poorly.

The movie follows a struggling singer named Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), who lives day-to-day playing small gigs with help from his manager Ellie (Lily James). Getting fed up with his lack of success and his dead-end job, Jack considers leaving music all together.

However, during one bike ride home, Jack is hit by a bus at the exact same moment a blackout occurs worldwide. When he wakes up and recovers from his injuries, he comes to find himself in a world where the Beatles never became a band and their music does not exist in the pop culture landscape. Seeing an opportunity, Jack starts singing the songs and claims credit for the work, which of course leads him to his own fair share of fame.

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REVIEW: Latest run in with ‘Annabelle’ doesn’t offer much new in horror

On the surface, the set up for the latest “Annabelle” implies something new. However, as time goes on, it turns into the same old story.

“Annabelle Comes Home,” the seventh movie in the Conjuring Cinematic Universe, again follows the movie-version Warren family, who’re much more entertaining and compelling than their real life fraud counterparts. The movie opens with Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) and Ed (Patrick Wilson) driving home with the Annabelle doll in their, er, custody. After some freaky moments, the Warrens are able to get the cursed doll back to their artifacts room, where it’s secured in a holy case, and life seems to settle to normal.

As life goes on, the Warrens plan a business trip and leave their daughter Judy (Mckenna Grace) in the care of a babysitter Mary Ellen (Madison Iseman). Despite dealing with the paranormal regularly, the Warren’s home and neighborhood is pretty straightforward suburbia. However, Mary Ellen’s friend Daniela (Katie Sarife) eventually comes over to hang out and has an interest in the Warren’s case files. Unfortunately, through a series of events, she lets loose the paranormal entities in the Warren’s artifacts room, including Annabelle.

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REVIEW: ‘Toy Story 4’ doesn’t fly like predecessors, but still falls with style

I’ll admit, when I first heard a new “Toy Story” was in production, I was skeptical, considering “Toy Story 3” was such a solid end to the trilogy. Fortunately, Pixar did some solid work with this fourth feature.

The latest film picks up seemingly not too long after the end of part three. The original gang, for example, have adapted pretty well to life with Bonnie’s other toys. That is, except for Woody (Tom Hanks). Woody appears to be involved less and less in times of play, and as a result, is getting little anxious.

However, when Bonnie creates a new toy from some materials, mainly a spork, named Forky (Tony Hale),  Woody finds some purpose. Forky appears to be confused, thinking himself more akin to trash than a toy, but Woody is set on protecting him and keeping him around, as Forky has become Bonnie’s favorite. The work gets more difficult, though, when during a family trip, Forky escapes in a small town near a carnival. Woody sets off on an adventure immediately to save Forky, and fortunately, he gets some help from the long lost Bo Peep (Annie Potts).

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REVIEW: When ‘Child’s Play’ isn’t trying to be a remake, it’s at its best

If only this hadn’t been called “Child’s Play.”

This new “Child’s Play” basically takes the framework, such as the character names and the iconic doll, and throws the rest out. Instead of using the original concept, with a murderer transferring himself into a doll through voodoo, this new “Child’s Play” goes with an artificial intelligence route.

The movie follows Andy (Gabriel Bateman), a young pre-teen who lives with his mother Karen (Aubrey Plaza). Karen works at a mid-size retailer that sells the new Buddi Dolls, which are toys that can also connect digitally to other electronics, like an Alexa. Karen eventually ends up lucky enough to snag a Buddi doll (voiced by Mark Hamill) through a stroke of luck. However, during its creation, that certain doll unfortunately became defective. As a result, the doll becomes aggressive.

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