REVIEW: ‘New Era’ at Downton offers enjoyment, despite shortcomings

I didn’t always know what was going on in the 2019 “Downton Abbey” film since I didn’t watch the series. That was true again here.

However, like its predecessor, it’s still fairly enjoyable.

“New Era” has two main stories unfolding. One revolves around a new film being shot at the Downton estate, where Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Violet (Maggie Smith) are keeping watch of things. While the family is hesitant about the film industry using the building, they allow it as it will provide funding to do needed roof repairs.

Meanwhile, the characters Robert (Hugh Bonneville), Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), Edith (Laura Carmichael), Herbert (Harry Hadden-Patton), Tom (Allen Leech) and Lucy (Tuppence Middleton) travel to southern France to explore a villa Violet inherited. The inheritance was included in the will of a man who Violet met decades ago in her youth.

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REVIEW: ‘Firestarter’ is a faulty King adaptation

Stephen King is an iconic writer but the adaptations of his work have a tendency to be hit or miss. This new “Firestarter” movie is definitely one of the latter.

Zac Efron and Sydney Lemmon play parents of a daughter with a unique ability in the film. Their child, Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), has the ability to spontaneously create fire with her mind, although she can’t manage to fully control the power.

While her power is unique, though, her having an ability isn’t, as both her parents are also able to control things with their mind. This has put a target on the family by an organization set on controlling people with special powers. With Charlie’s powers more based on high emotions, it puts her family in a dangerous position, as their cover of being normal residents may be blown.

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REVIEW: Studio-driven ‘Doctor Strange 2’ short on substance

Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been pretty poor so far.

Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) starts off this latest Marvel adventure on a down note, having to attend a wedding where the woman he loved is getting married to someone else. Any negative feelings about that have to wait, though, when a giant monster attacks a young woman nearby.

The woman is America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), who has the power to travel to different universes, but can’t quite control it yet. After rescuing her, Strange seeks counsel from Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), as she might be able to help with her knowledge of magic. However, Wanda sees an opportunity to use America’s powers for herself so that she can find a different universe where she can be happier.

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REVIEW: ‘Memory’ is solid matinee action cinema

Wow, two Liam Neeson action movies in less than three months. Fortunately, “Memory” is a better film than February’s “Blacklight.”

In “Memory,” Neeson plays Alex Lewis, a hitman for organized crime who almost always gets the job done. However, his latest job involves killing a child, something he refuses to do.

Meanwhile, Guy Pearce portrays an FBI agent named Vincent who’s investigating a trafficking operation. It turns out the girl Alex was supposed to kill was involved in the trafficking operation and those who run it are now after the hitman to bring him down for not going through with the task.

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REVIEW: ‘Secrets of Dumbledore’ entertains, but is far too disjointed

This new “Fantastic Beasts” movie just reminds me the last “Harry Potter” came out more than 10 years ago, when I was still in college. Where does time go?

While there’s been some time since “Harry Potter” ended, though, the Wizarding World is carrying on. The latest franchise installment is the third entry in the “Fantastic Beasts” saga, with Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) still posing a threat to the magic nations.

In response to the Grindelwald threat, Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) recruits a team including beasts expert Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), American charms professor Lally Hicks (Jessica Williams), Scamander’s brother Theseus who’s an elite dark wizard catcher and WWI veteran Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler). Dumbledore has to rely on this team, as there’s a spell preventing him from battling Grindelwald directly.

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REVIEW: Meticulously made’ Northman’ devoid of heart

As a Vikings fan, I felt a major urge to clap my hands above my head whenever the word “skol” was thrown out in this film.

The story of “The Northman” is based in a Scandinavian legend, which ultimately inspired Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” The protagonist of this film is a prince, Amleth, (Alexander Skarsgard) who witnesses his father (Ethan Hawke) be killed by his uncle Fjolnir (Claes Bang).

Amleth is forced to flee as a child after Fjolnir’s bloody rise to power, but vows to return. He eventually does so, now as an experienced, hardened warrior. To get close to his uncle, Amleth goes undercover, appearing as a slave working on Fjolnir’s land.

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REVIEW: ‘Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ is a Nic Cage triumph

Nicolas Cage is uncaged in this film, since he gets to really be himself. Seriously.

Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself in “Massive Talent.” Like the real version, the Cage in the movie hasn’t starred in a major blockbuster in a few years and it’s been tough on the actor.

He gets an opportunity to make some easy cash thanks to a mega fan named Javi, though, which could help get him on sturdier ground. However, it turns out Javi, who hired Cage to attend his birthday party, is actually a person the CIA has been targeting as an arms dealer. The CIA then asks Cage to provide surveillance on the individual.

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REVIEW: Adrenaline filled ‘Ambulance’ entertains despite speed bumps

Michael Bay tears up Los Angeles in his new action blockbuster, although the stakes are a bit lower compared to his other entries from the last decade.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II stars as Will Sharp in “Ambulance,” a veteran and young father struggling to provide for his family, especially with medical bills mounting. In his desperation, he turns to his adoptive brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal), who runs an auto shop.

It turns out, that isn’t Danny’s only business, though, as the brother is also into heists and has been planning a bank robbery. Will is eventually roped in to the situation, but the robbery turns south fast. Needing to escape, the brothers carjack an ambulance with a wounded officer and an EMT (Eiza Gonzalez) inside.

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Review: ‘Sonic 2’ succeeds where predecessor fell short

Best video game movie made up to this point? The argument can certainly be made with this one.

In the new “Sonic” adventure, the blue blur (Ben Schwartz) is trying to play the role of a hero but is finding out that he still has some learning to do. Meanwhile, Dr. Robotnik (Jim Carrey) managed to get off the planet he was banished to in the first film thanks to a new partnership with Knuckles (Idris Elba), an echidna warrior who has a grudge against Sonic.

That grudge is based on a historic conflict between the echidnas and the owl tribe, which Sonic was connected to since he was raised by Longclaw in the first movie. Sonic gets a warning about the new threat of Robotnik and Knuckles from a new friend, though, named Miles “Tails” Prower (Colleen Shaughnessey). From there, the two factions battle with each other with an ancient hidden power on the line.

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REVIEW: ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ is excellent

After this movie, you’ll never look at googly eyes the same way again.

This film stars Michelle Yeoh as a woman, Evelyn, who owns and operates a laundromat with her husband, Waymond (Jonathan Ke Quan). Their marriage has become strained, though, and she doesn’t have the best relationship with her daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu), either. On top of her family matters, Evelyn also has to deal with an audit into the laundromat by the IRS.

At a meeting with an IRS employee, Evelyn is contacted by different version of her husband from another universe who informs her that she may be the only being in the multi-verse who can prevent a calamity. To do so, Evelyn will have to tap into abilities from other versions of herself from alternate universes.

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