REVIEW: Get in the theater for ‘In the Heights’

“In the Heights” is an appropriate name for this film and the stage production its based on.

Not only because it takes place in New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood, but also because it’s an experience that earns high scores.

The film is set in a Latin community and follows several characters, but the main focus is on Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a bodega owner who dreams of reopening his late father’s beachside business in the Dominican Republic. One of the regular customers to Usnavi’s shop is Vanessa (Melissa Barrera), a young woman working at a salon who wants to pursue a career in fashion.

Early in the film, Usnavi and Vanessa meet up with Nina (Leslie Grace), a Stanford University student whose father owns a taxi company. That company is where Benny (Corey Hawkins), who has relationship history with Nina, works. The four of them spend time with others in the neighborhood and try to navigate their futures during a heat wave across New York City.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Get in the theater for ‘In the Heights’”

REVIEW: Star power and songs carry ‘The Prom’

For the second year in a row James Corden is starring in a musical during the holiday season. This time, though, he has less fur.

Corden is one of four actors portraying Broadway performers in “The Prom.” Corden plays Barry, who is joined by other theater performers Dee Dee (Meryl Streep), Angie (Nicole Kidman) and Trent (Andrew Rannells). At the movie’s outset, the four are somewhat down on their luck after receiving negative reviews for their latest show.

However, they soon find a way to get good press again by supporting a teenager in Indiana named Emma (Jo Ellen Pellman) who’s come out as a lesbian and has been met with resistance to attending her prom as a result. During their time there, though, the four become supportive of Emma more than just for their own needs.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Star power and songs carry ‘The Prom’”

REVIEW: ‘Cats’ is crazy, but its music is catchy

Cats are not dogs. This is information the movie really wants an audience to know, so much so that Judi Dench turns directly to the camera to say it. That’s just one of the lessons one will learn over the course of the cinematic experience that is “Cats.” It truly is something to behold.

Based on the stage play of the same name, “Cats” is set in London and follows a group of felines who love to sing and dance. The main character we’re introduced at the start is Victoria (Francesca Hayward), who’s introduced to the Jellicle cats. The Jellicle cats all have their own traits, quirks, and even personalized songs that they sing.

Victoria meeting with the Jellicle cats happens to be a meeting of destiny, as it turns out it’s the night of the Jellicle ball, where a single cat is chosen to have their life thoroughly improved. Over the course of the film, different cats sing and perform with the hope of being the one.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Cats’ is crazy, but its music is catchy”

REVIEW: ‘Rocketman’ convincingly captures Elton John’s passion

Saturday might be the time of week alright for fighting, but any day is a good day to see “Rocketman.”

As the title and my song referencing lede implies, “Rocketman” is a film about the musician Elton John (Taron Egerton). The film focuses on John’s early success, which also, sadly, coincided with his struggles with addiction.

The picture tells both John’s early career story and the development of his psyche over time through a series of song and dance numbers numbers set to the musician’s music.

Continue reading “REVIEW: ‘Rocketman’ convincingly captures Elton John’s passion”

REVIEW: Catchy Songs Don’t Save Rushed Story In ‘Greatest Showman’

I’m not usually a stickler for 100 percent historical accuracy, but even I have to admit that “The Greatest Showman” takes a battle axe to P.T. Barnum’s true story.

The film tells the story of how Barnum (Hugh Jackman) went from a poor boy coming from nothing to a well-known showman who creates entertainment via circus acts. It doesn’t just do this in any ordinary manner, though. Instead, the film goes into full musical mode right off the bat and never lets up.

As the movie goes on, it explores Barnum trying to balance his family life with his wife Charity (Michelle Williams) and his business, which he runs with help from his partner Phillip (Zac Efron).

Continue reading “REVIEW: Catchy Songs Don’t Save Rushed Story In ‘Greatest Showman’”

REVIEW: Musical Scenes Are Greatest Feature Of ‘Trolls’ Movie

It’s nice to see something with the name Trolls and have it not be related to the internet in any way.

Instead, it’s the latest animated feature to hit the big screen and it’s based off the old toys with wild hair. As the name suggests, the film tells the story of Trolls, a race of happy-go-lucky beings who live in harmony, that is when they’re not under attack from the Bergens, giant creatures who only find joy from eating trolls.

Fortunately, at the film’s outset, the Trolls haven’t had to deal with the Bergens for two decades. One day they’re discovered, though, and a number of Trolls are captured by a vicious Bergen Chef. As a result, the Trolls Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) and a rather grumpy Troll named Branch (Justin Timberlake) go on a rescue mission/adventure.

Continue reading “REVIEW: Musical Scenes Are Greatest Feature Of ‘Trolls’ Movie”

Into the Woods review

Director:
Rob Marshall
Cast:
Anna Kendrick
Daniel Huttlestone
James Corden
Emily Blunt
Tracey Ullman
Meryl Streep
Rated: PG

Based on a Broadway musical of the same name, “Into the Woods” is a crossover of sorts which features characters from the stories of Cinderella (Kendrick), Jack (Huttlestone) and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood (Crawford) and Repunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy). The stories are all brought together by a couple, the Baker (Corden) and the Baker’s Wife (Blunt), who are trying to lift a curse that was set on them by the local Witch (Streep).

To do so, the couple needs to collect items from all of the famous fairy tales. The film tells the story from multiple angles and much of the plot is told through song.

Continue reading “Into the Woods review”

Frozen review

Director:
Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Cast:
Kristen Bell
Idina Menzel
Jonathan Groff
Josh Gad
Santino Fontana
Rated: PG
Trailer

Disney’s has made another classic in “Frozen.”

The movie is built on two intertwined character arcs, with the story following the sisters Anna (Bell) and Elsa (Menzel). The plot begins by showing that Elsa has the power to create and manipulate ice. Because of the lack of control over her abilities, her parents decide it’s best for her to hide them from the world, including her sister. After the death of their parents, the movie moves forward to the day of Elsa’s coronation as queen.

Everything seems alright at the coronation for a while, that is until Anna, being the more free spirit that she is, makes a bold announcement that doesn’t sit too well with Elsa. The whole ordeal causes Elsa to reveal her power and flee the kingdom. In the process of running away she freezes the entire land in the middle of summer. To end the cold spell, Anna decides to confront her sister and get her to end the winter that now exists. Along the way she is joined by an ice seller named Kristoff (Groff) and his reindeer as well as a living snowman named Olaf (Gad).

Continue reading “Frozen review”

Les Miserables review

Adapted from the 1862 novel written by Victor Hugo, “Les Miserables” follows the story of an ex-convict named Jean Valjean, played by Hugh Jackman, whom upon leaving prison tries changing his life and becoming a better man than he was before. He breaks parole though and because of this, the law-obsessed inspector Javert, played by Russell Crowe, goes to no ends throughout the movie to try and capture Valjean.

After getting his life back on track and avoiding Javert, Valjean meets a woman named Fantine, played by Anne Hathaway who has had to sell her body to support her young daughter, Cosette. Upon her death, Valjean makes a promise to protect Cosette and raise her as his own. The rest of the film is about his struggles of raising Cosette and an envisionment of France in the early 1800s.

Continue reading “Les Miserables review”