REVIEW: ‘Abbey’ is a good watch for fans and those unfamiliar

I walked into the theater blind with this one. I never watched an episode of the television series “Downton Abbey,” and despite my attempts at research, I was still a bit lost. With that said, though, it was a pretty enjoyable time.

From what I could pick up, the film takes place following the events of the show, featuring stories of both the Crawley family and those who work at their estate. In this film, the family is welcoming King George and Queen Mary to stay at Downton Abbey as part of a royal tour along the country-side.

Over the course of the visit, the Crawleys have moments of inter-family drama mixed with trying to make a good impression for the Royal Family. The staff, meanwhile, have their own sub-plot where they compete to maintain their service in spite of being pushed aside by the Royal Family’s staff.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Abbey’ is a good watch for fans and those unfamiliar”

Advertisements

REVIEW: ‘Last Blood’ boosted by third act battle

Over a decade ago, when the credits were rolling on 2008’s “Rambo,” I thought it was the perfect way to end the character’s long story. Apparently Hollywood didn’t agree because now we have a fifth film in the franchise. In all fairness, though, it is pretty entertaining.

After serving in Vietnam, getting unjustly pushed into a conflict in Washington state, rescuing prisoners of war, fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and battling against ruthless soldiers in Burma, John Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) has finally settled into a peaceful life.

The 2008 film saw him return to the family ranch and that’s where we pick up with John, who now keeps busy by training horses. He lives a peaceful life at the farm with his friend Maria (Adriana Barraza) and Maria’s granddaughter Gabrielle (Yvette Monreal). While everything seems to be OK at the outset, though, trouble starts when Gabrielle visits Mexico to try and reconnect with her biological father. Unfortunately, during her time there, Gabrielle is abducted by a cartel and it once again forces Rambo out of peacetime.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Last Blood’ boosted by third act battle”

REVIEW: ‘Ad Astra’ is in the upper echelon of the space adventure genre

A star studded cast like this deserves to be on a grand scale film across the stars. That’s what we get with the new sci-fi “Ad Astra.”

The movie takes place in the fairly distant future, with mankind now able travel to the Solar System’s inner planets regularly and launch long range expeditions beyond the asteroid belt. The film follows Roy McBride, an experienced and fearless astronaut working for the United States’ Space Com.

However, Roy still lives in the shadow of his father Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones), a great, accomplished American space explorer who went on a venture to the outer reaches of the solar system near Neptune. The expedition was lost, though, decades ago, with the crew written off as dead. When power surges begin hitting the earth generated from a powerful space ship engine, Roy is tasked with finding out if his father is still alive and if so, if it’s the lost ship starting these power surges.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Ad Astra’ is in the upper echelon of the space adventure genre”

REVIEW: ‘Hustlers’ is a flashy, fun crime story

Hustlin’ aint easy, but the main characters in this flick sure seemed good at it.

“Hustlers” follows the character Destiny (Constance Wu), a woman trying to make a living in New York City by working at a gentlemen’s club. On top of making a living for herself, she’s also working to support her grandmother. While she’s making some money with the job, she doesn’t hit her stride until she meets Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), who acts as a sort of mentor.

Things appear to be going well with more money coming in. However, the film is set around 2008 and as many may remember, Wall Street tanked and pulled the rest of the world economy down with it. In the ensuing years, with more financial strains, Destiny decides to join Ramona in a scheme of getting wealthy wall street clients drunk and then over-charging their credit cards.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Hustlers’ is a flashy, fun crime story”

REVIEW: ‘It’ 2 lags behind first installment, but still worth a watch

The 1990 “It” mini-series adaptation took place over two nights and followed a group of characters in their youth, and as adults. The latest adaptation, spread over 2017 and 2019, takes a similar approach.

In both cases, the stories following the characters as kids was more compelling.

At the end of the 2017 movie, a group of friends in a small Maine town known as the Losers Club defeated the paranormal entity simply called “It” and made a promise to return to the northeast if the monster re-appeared. Well sure enough, 27 years later, It, taking the form of a clown, comes back to wreak havoc.

In response, Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), the only one who stayed in Maine, calls the Losers back from across the country to once again defeat It (Bill Skarsgard). Bill (James McAvoy), Beverly (Jessica Chastain), Richie (Bill Hader) and Ben (Jay Ryan) all return to meet with Mike, but have trouble remembering the events of the first movie. However, that begins to change when they start seeing the evil clown around town.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘It’ 2 lags behind first installment, but still worth a watch”

REVIEW: ‘Ready or Not’ is a fun way to end summer 2019

Before this movie whenever I heard the phrase “Ready or Not” I thought of the Fugees song. Now, I might think of a very bloody wedding reception.

“Ready or Not” follows the character Grace, played by Samara Weaving, on her wedding day. While nerves are nothing new for a person on their wedding day, Grace is having a bit more anxiety than usual because she happens to be marrying into a massively wealthy family.

She’s calmed down a bit, though, by her fiance Alex (Mark O’Brien) and her new family, who provide pleasantries and reassurance. That is until it comes time for the family tradition of having a game at midnight. The family decides to play a game of Hide and Seek, with Grace being the person to hide. At first Grace just thinks it’s a silly quirk, until it turns out the family is actually hunting her as part of a sacrificial ritual. As a result, Grace’s wedding night turns into a fight for survival.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Ready or Not’ is a fun way to end summer 2019”

REVIEW: ‘Meters Down’ sequel doesn’t rise too much in quality

Young characters do something they shouldn’t and end up having to deal with a force of nature. Pretty straightforward stuff for a shark movie.

Going into a little more detail here, “47 Meters Down: Uncaged” is a sequel to 2017’s “47 Meters Down,” which I didn’t see. Despite not being brushed up on my “47 Meters” lore, though, this one is pretty easy to dive right into.

The movie follows four teenage girls, with the main characters being step-sisters Mia (Sophie Nelisse) and Sasha (Corinne Foxx). Their father is a diving explorer who is researching an ancient underwater city.

On one afternoon, the two girls and their friends decide to check the location out for themselves, but in doing so, they come across a shark that’s evolved to live, and hunt, in the dark. As a result, the four now have to try and survive with limited oxygen in a what’s basically an underwater maze.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Meters Down’ sequel doesn’t rise too much in quality”

REVIEW: ‘Blinded by the Light’ is blinded by cliches

Bruce Springsteen’s music works well in movies, as shown in “Jerry Maguire” and “The Wrestler.” But if just one Springsteen song in a movie isn’t enough for a person, they may find the jackpot in “Blinded by the Light.”

Set in late 80s Britain during the time of Margaret Thatcher’s leadership, “Blinded by the Light” follows the story of teenage student Javed Khan (Viveik Kalra) under a lot of stress. In the midst of a recession, his parents Malik (Kulvinder Ghir) and Noor (Meera Ganatra) who immigrated from Pakistan are struggling to make ends meet.

In the face of financial hardships, signs of racism and pure teenage angst, Javed searches for some escapism. He ends up finding it in the music of Bruce Springsteen. After hearing a few tapes, he becomes hooked and turns into a mega-fan, with the music even inspiring him to become a writer. However, his new style and swagger runs into conflict with the ways of his father.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Blinded by the Light’ is blinded by cliches”

REVIEW: ‘Bernadette’s’ mystery isn’t worth checking out

Director Richard Linklater is a great talent in the film industry. The “Before Sunrise” trilogy, “Boyhood,” 2011’s “Bernie” and even 2017’s “Last Flag Flying,” have all been solid entries to his filmography in this reviewer’s opinion.

However, when it comes to “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” the filmmaker, along with the cast and crew, drop the ball.

Bernadette, played by Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett, is a retired architect who now spends most of her time trying to restore the home where her family now resides. Her leaving the industry, though, has led to her enjoying life less and less, and it doesn’t help that she’s not exactly sociable.

The latter is especially portrayed by her having a bad relationships with other women in her neighborhood and her marriage becoming strained. As the movie progresses, these stress factors eventually become to much and Bernadette ends up leaving to pursue a sort of self discovery journey. By itself that’s not a particularly bad thing, except she doesn’t end up telling anybody.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Bernadette’s’ mystery isn’t worth checking out”

REVIEW: ‘Fallen’ series rises back up with third installment

Alright, listen up. This movie features a fugitive. What this piece will entail is a hard target review of every character, plot detail, and the set design of every White House, hen house, out house and dog house on screen.

“Angel Has Fallen” once again features U.S. Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), who now protects President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). In the previous movies, Trumbull was House Speaker while the president was Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart). But now, Trumbull is running the country and he’s under the protection of a super agent.

It’s an action movie, though, so of course something has to go wrong. In this case, a massive attack with dozens of drones rigged to blow are set loose on the President and his security detail while on a trip away from D.C. In the aftermath of the attack, the only survivors are Trumbull and Banning, making the latter the prime suspect. Banning, being innocent, quickly sees he’s being set-up and goes on a journey to clear his name and protect the president from the next attack.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Fallen’ series rises back up with third installment”