REVIEW: ‘Cruella’ constricted by tonal imbalance

Hero. Antihero. Villain. Can a protagonist be all three? “Cruella” attempts to find out.

Emma Stone stars as Estella in this supposed prequel to the “101 Dalmatians” story. Estella, born with white and black hair, is a girl who was orphaned at a young age when her mother fell from a balcony during a party. Following the death, Estella finds her way to London and meets Jasper and Horace. The three become friends and pull schemes together to make money in order to survive.

Eventually, though, Estella gets her chance to leave her life of pick-pocketing and get her dream job as a fashion designer. Eventually, she gets to work for London’s top fashion individual, who simply goes by The Baroness (Emma Thompson). The more she works there, though, the more Estella finds reason to let out her true self, Cruella, and conquer the fashion world.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Cruella’ constricted by tonal imbalance”

REVIEW: ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’ brings big sky thrills

Angelina Jolie has taken a break from playing Maleficent to return to the action genre.

This time, though, she plays a character with survival skills, rather than being a master martial artist or super spy.

In “Those Who Wish Me Dead,” Jolie portrays Hannah, an elite firefighter in Montana who’s trying to get over a traumatic event that took place about a year ago. Because of the experience, Hannah is taken off the frontlines and instead is stationed at a fire lookout tower.

Meanwhile, a father and his son Connor (Finn Little) go on the run. The father, Owen (Jake Weber), is an accountant mixed in a situation where he could potentially expose several financial scandals and therefore has a hit on him. Those looking to take Owen out do succeed, but Connor escapes. After doing so, he runs into Hannah, who takes on the task of protecting him.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead’ brings big sky thrills”

REVIEW: Good direction from Ritchie makes ‘Wrath of Man’ work

Many revenge movies are straightforward in their approach, so any time a good director can come along with some flair to elevate things, it’s a plus.

That’s the case here with “Wrath of Man.”

The film centers on Patrick Hill (Jason Statham) who simply goes by “H.” Appearing to be just an everyman, H begins working for an armored vehicle company, mainly under the supervision of a man whose nickname is Bullet (Holt McCallany).

His first several days there are routine, but one day a truck he’s in is stopped by a gang of thieves. It’s no problem for H, though, who takes out the criminals with great skill and precision. It soon comes to light that H is working at the company for a specific reason and has revenge on his mind.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Good direction from Ritchie makes ‘Wrath of Man’ work”

REVIEW: ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ is a powerful, magnetic drama

The use of confidential informants, as this film shows in great detail, can be a problematic law enforcement measure.

In this case, the movie is about informant Bill O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), a young man who is arrested for pretending to be an FBI agent to steal a car. Rather than be charged right away, though, O’Neal is given an opportunity by bureau agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons). Not long before Mitchell gave O’Neal the opportunity, J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen) announced that Black Panther Illinois Leader Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) needed to be monitored.

That’s the job offered by Mitchell, and to avoid prison time, O’Neal reluctantly accepts. O’Neal makes his way into the Black Panthers organization and over time, establishes himself as a full-fledged member. As a result, O’Neal begins getting closer to Hampton and is able to report his findings to the FBI. However, with tensions seeming to rise all around him, O’Neal finds himself being pulled in two directions.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ is a powerful, magnetic drama”

REVIEW: ‘The Little Things’ has little to offer the detective genre

Denzel Washington is once again doing detective work in California but this time, it’s not a training day.

Washington plays Joe Deacon, who casually goes by Deke. A former detective, Deke now works as a sheriff deputy with a normal beat. He mostly stays in his own lane, but at the movie’s start, he’s brought in to give some experienced advice on a new murder case.

The case is being primarily helmed by Jim Baxter (Rami Malek), a young detective who’s already making a name for himself as a talented inspector. While the two are at first not thrilled about working together, they eventually decide they can figure this puzzle out better by working side-by-side. The film explores them doing so and also begins revealing why Deke made a career change.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘The Little Things’ has little to offer the detective genre”

REVIEW: ‘I’m Your Woman’ is watchable, but weakened by story issues

“I’m Your Woman” is a fairly entertaining crime drama, but the story does get clunky at times.

Rachel Brosnahan plays the lead character Jean in the film. She is married to Eddie (Bill Heck) a man who by all appearances is associated with organized crime. At the movie’s onset, Eddie comes home with a baby, stating that it’s his and Jean’s son.

Jean begins caring for the baby, but her typical days of motherhood are shattered when she is told that Eddie has gone missing by one of his friends, Cal (Arinze Kene). Now she must survive with her child as the criminal underground applies pressure on her.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘I’m Your Woman’ is watchable, but weakened by story issues”

REVIEW: New Netflix film never reaches full ‘Power’

Super powers can be a fun thing in movies, but they need to have rules and, more importantly, they must make sense.

“Project Power, unfortunately, doesn’t have a good control on this aspect, or other film elements for that matter.

The film is set in New Orleans and takes place as a new drug is spreading through the city. Rather than giving people a high, though, this new drug causes people to have five minute bursts of super powers.

As the film goes on, the drug is shown to give different people unique powers, such as super strength or camouflage. The film follows a trio of characters mixed into the situation, a cop who’s using the drug himself to fight back named Frank (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a former soldier ,Art (Jamie Foxx), who’s trying to limit its spread and a student, Robin (Dominique Fishback), who’s started dealing the substance.

Continue reading “REVIEW: New Netflix film never reaches full ‘Power’”

REVIEW: ’21 Bridges’ isn’t sensational, but it is streamable

The characters didn’t go to all 21 bridges. 1 out of 5.

Just kidding, kind of.

This film is a sophomore feature effort by director Brian Kirk, who in the past helmed 2006’s “Middletown.” His latest film stars Chadwick Boseman as Andre Davis, a detective with roughly a decade of experience with the New York City Police Department. While he’s a good detective, though, he’s also gained a negative reputation of being too quick on the trigger.

His expertise is called upon, though, when a drug incident turns into a blood bath, with several police officers dead and the two responsible going on the run. To capture the two and bring them to justice, Andre and another investigator, Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) launch a city-wide manhunt and shut down all 21 bridges out of New York.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ’21 Bridges’ isn’t sensational, but it is streamable”

REVIEW: ‘Good Liar,’ not so good movie

The most glaring thing about “The Good Liar” is that it’s not nearly as clever as it thinks it is.

“The Good Liar” stars Ian McKellen as Roy Courtnay, an elderly longtime con artist who happens to meet a wealthy widow named Betty (Helen Mirren). Seeing an opportunity to make cash on another job, Roy initiates a new operation to start a relationship with Betty and be with her until he can get her to share her bank accounts and he can make the robbery happen.

Roy has to really commit to the role, though, as the job in convincing Betty isn’t entirely easy. Plus, Betty’s grandson, Stephen (Russell Tovey), doesn’t trust Roy from the very start. The result is a con job that’s more difficult than initially expected.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Good Liar,’ not so good movie”

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”