Stunning visually, A Wrinkle in Time leaves the viewer with a feel good message of love overcoming dark.
When father and scientist Dr. Murray (Chris Pine) goes missing, it’s up to his awkward and angry daughter, Meg (Storm Reid) and her brilliant brother, Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) to find him. Along the way, they enlist the help of one of Meg’s classmates (Levi Miller) and three magical women- Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon), and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey).
This classic piece of literature by Madeline L’Engle has often been a favorite of children throughout the world. Turning it into a movie was a large undertaking by Disney. How do you compete with love and memories? Much like 1980’s Dune, fans will either love A Wrinkle in Time or hate it.
With beautiful cinematography and sweeping landscapes, A Wrinkle in Time feels majestic. The colors are bright and even the flowers talk in color. The star power rocks a new level with Oprah Winfrey, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling to name a few. It also feels like a Benetton advertisement. Meg is mixed race. Her brother is adopted. He’s brilliant and says what comes into his mind, no filter. She’s angry and keeps people at a distance. The neighbor girl is a bully who is secretly hiding her own problem with bulimia. It represents everyone.
All the viewers should be able to see themselves in one of the characters, making this a powerful movie for younger audiences. But it’s the message which will resonate with viewers after they leave. The negative loop in our heads we hear over and over is the evil IT who is trying to take over the world, one person at a time and by only accepting our faults and embracing our whole heart can we overcome the evil.
While the message is important, it comes off as trite and heavy-handed. Most of us know how goodness and love spreads and changes the world. We don’t need to be reminded many times during the two and a half hour movie. So see the movie on the big screen for the majesty of the film but don’t spend big bucks unless you are taking your children. At the very least, it’s a good movie to lead the discussion about how everyone has their own inner dialogue and problems… so throw kindness as confetti.
A remake of the Charles Bronson 1974 movie, Death Wish with Bruce Willis entertains.
Paul Kersey (Willis), a trauma surgeon, lives in Chicago, where deaths happen every night. He’s good at his job, putting back together both the heroes and the bad guys. A family man, his daughter is leaving for college in the fall. The perfect family.
When thugs decide to rob the house, expecting no one home, things go awry. His wife, Lucy (Elizabeth Shue) is killed and his daughter, Jordan is left in a coma. Dr. Kersey does everything by the book but the Chicago PD lack the leads to find the suspects, leaving Paul frustrated.
After witnessing a couple of thugs manhandling a woman, Dr. Kersey decides to stop playing by the rules and teaches himself to shoot. Taking matters into his own hands, he becomes “The Grim Reaper”, a vigilante who sets to protect those who are victims. When a thug comes into the ER wearing Dr. Kersey’s watch, he gets the break he needs to find those men who attacked his family.
Bruce Willis is back as a kick-butt character, similar to his Die Hard one. Now bald and a little older, Willis still is able to handle a gun and witty banter before he kills someone. He carries the movie as he moves from surgeon to vigilante.
The director Eli Roth does a nice job of updating the movie for 2018 with radio stations and television shows debating the use of violence versus protecting those who are unprotected. It’s an interesting debate in light of recent events. In addition, social media and viral video show how quickly information is shared around the world. While some pieces remain the same from the original, this movie has a “new” feeling.
Although it will keep you on the edge of your seat with the violence and action, it’s not a movie you need to visit the theater to see. The cheap seats or on your TV would be just as fine. Save the money for those spring blockbusters.
One of the most highly anticipated movies of 2018, the Black Panther delivers at the box office and on the big screen.
Wakanda, believed to be a poor third world country, hides a large secret. One people are willing to kill to obtain. When the King of Wakanda is killed at the United Nations, his son, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) assumes the mantle of leadership, but a secret from the past sets out to destroy the peace Wakanda had worked so hard to keep.
Filled with beautiful landscapes, a diverse country, and out of this world technology, the Black Panther movie draws the viewer in and keeps you on the edge of your seat, from the opening scene to the extra credit sneak peeks (and there are two).
Probably more than Wonder Woman, Black Panther features strong female characters who are leaders, generals and scientists. The women don’t take back seat. They are in all the action and make the decisions, hold to their morals and risk it all for what is right. They are some of my favorite characters and I can’t wait to see what they do during Black Panther 2. (Because with the high box office figures, you know there will be another!)
I also loved seeing Andy Serkis without the full body costume. He’s an amazing actor who has missed out awards due to the fact that he’s so immersed in the characters in costume that people forget he’s really a man.
The message of the movie resonates with audiences as it touches on borders, immigration, family and morality. Leaving the movie, you will feel upbeat and hopeful about our own future, after all… if Wakanda can do it, we can here, too.
The movie reminded me of how I felt at the end of the first Ironman movie. Excited about what was coming up. Black Panther will be a favorite of many people, no matter their race or gender. It’s one I’m looking forward to adding to my video collection to see again and again.
Wrapping up the Fifty Shades trilogy, Fifty Shades Freed gives viewers the happily ever after they were hoping for. Anastasia (Dakota Johnson) and Christian (Jamie Dornan) get married and head off on a country-hopping honeymoon, enjoying idyllic days in Paris and on a Mediterranean beach. Glamor galore as they spend almost as much time in bed as they do exploring the cities. All is happy in their world until sabotage at Grey Enterprises interrupts their honeymoon.
Ana’s former boss, Jack has returned and is determined to get what he believes is his. With bodyguards in tow, life has changed for Ana as she finds herself juggling being wealthy and a new wife. Jealousy and insecurity among her co-workers create a strained workplace. As well, Ana chafes at the new “rules” of being wealthy and in the limelight.
Christian continues his domineering ways, creating rules and expecting Ana to follow them. He hides information from his wife in order to “protect” her but she feels left out and trapped, which creates a wedge between them that they must fix.
Fifty Shades Freed plays like a movie on Cinemax After Dark with plenty of nudity and sex to make many viewers blush. The sex feels thrown in and not necessary. Everyone knows couples have sex, it’s not needed to see this aspect of their relationship in order to understand their love. However, in this movie we get as much eye candy of Jamie Dornan as of Dakota Johnson. The BDSM elements are fluff. They aren’t the reality of the BDSM lifestyle so be warned before joining any munches.
Filled with many moments of relationship angst, this was my favorite of the three movies because we finally get to see the characters on equal footing. Ana has come into her own and stands up to her husband, rather than doing everything he wants. Christian still acts like a spoiled child, setting rules and keeping secrets. When things don’t go his way, he “punishes” Ana. At times, I wonder if he wasn’t good looking and rich, if she’d stay with him.
I’m glad that the movie gives us a happily ever after with a mid-credits scene. It goes to show hope for the couple and their future. Unless you are a fan of the books and movies, this is one better to watch at home.
Snubbed for all the awards, Hostiles is a movie reminiscent of the westerns of the past.
In 1892, the Civil War has been over for years and the fighting with the Native Americans is coming to a close. Most have been captured and moved to reservations. A decorated Army captain, Joe Blocker (played by Christian Bale), who earned his reputation as an Indian fighter, is forced to escort a dying Cheyenne Chief and his family from New Mexico to Montana so that Yellow Hawk (played by Wes Studi) may die and be buried among his ancestors.
With his handpicked team, Joe must face his toughest assignment- protecting a man he’d rather kill than save. He faces death at every turn. Joe must also come to grips with his anger toward the Chief and his part in the destruction of the Native people.
With sweeping vistas, the cinematography is beautiful. Director Scott Cooper filmed on location across the West and only filmed at the same place twice so as to showcase the beauty of the Wild West. Using real native people in the roles of the Native Americans also gives a realistic feel to the fictionalized story.
Based on an unfinished manuscript by Donald E. Stewart (Hunt for Red October), Scott Cooper wrote a story which feels relevant today at a time when many different sides are fighting, each thinking they are correct. Hostiles shows that both sides of the Native conflict were at fault and only through acceptance and friendship can we repair the damage done by the fighting.
Hostiles has an amazing cast with Rosamund Pike as Rosalie Quaid, a woman who overcomes harsh obstacles which would send many people into a sobbing fetal position. Rory Cochrane plays Master Sgt. Thomas Metz, one of Joe’s soldiers and closest friend. He’s killed for so long he’s lost his ability to be happy and longs for death. His character serves as a barometer for what happens to humanity when you end so many lives.
Come prepared though with some extra tissues. This movie pulls on the heartstrings and will have you thinking about battles and forgiveness.
Gritty crime drama, Den of Thieves focuses on the battle between an elite group of police officers in LA and the sophisticated robbery gang they set out to bring in.
Nick Flanagan (played by Gerard Butler) is the bad boy of the force. He’s the leader of a group of the Major Crimes division in Los Angeles. These guys don’t play by the rules. Force is always applied when they need information, so forget any body cams! When an armored car robbery goes south, cops are killed bringing the crime to the attention of Nick and his gang. As they begin to put two and two together, they realize that they are dealing with a major group who has big plans.
Merrimen (played by Pablo Schreiber) has plans to rob the Federal Reserve office in LA where money is counted and taken out of circulation. As a former military man, he commands his troops with precision as they stand together as a family brought together for a common purpose. (Think Fast and Furious meets Ocean 11)
Donnie (played by O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) is a man caught in the middle. He’s been brought in by Nick to snitch on Merrimen but is also being used by Merrimen to feed Nick information. Filled with strippers, drinking and swearing, Den of Thieves isn’t a movie for those who are easily offended. The big shootout scene is over the top with machine guns and dodging through stalled traffic.
The diversity of the cast is interesting with a variety of Hawaiian and Māori actors. But it’s the name power in the movie which is fun with 50 Cent (who has an amazing scene as a protective father) and the brother of Liev Schreiber and Ice Cube’s son. Gerard does double duty on this movie, putting up his own money as producer, so you know he really wanted this movie made.
In today’s world of body cams and cell phone video, a police group like Nick’s would never be able to do the many things they do in this movie, but this is Hollywood and it makes a good movie. The surprising twist at the end will leave you shocked and eager to see it again so you can catch the clues given along the way.
While the action is wonderful on the big screen, this is easily a movie you can see at home and save some money…especially since you will want to watch it a second time for all the clues.
Taking place in 1962, Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is set against the backdrop of the Cold War and tells the tale of misfits finding love. Winner of two Golden Globes for best director and best score, The Shape of Water is a movie filled with beautiful imagery and scenes set to shock.
Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a mute cleaning lady. She was found as an infant by the water with scratches on her neck which damaged her voice box. Her life consists of a regimentation but she dreams of shoes. Her best friend is a gay, older painter named Giles (Richard Jenkins) who’d been let go from his job as an ad designer and now laments his losses. Giles is rebuffed both with work, even when he does his best and when he reaches out toward love. Together, Giles and Elisa, share a love of old movies and dance numbers.
Working with Elisa in a secret government facility is Zelda Fuller, an outspoken and caring African American woman (Octavia Spencer) who works to support her lazy husband. The two women stumble upon a mysterious asset--a merman who can breathe both in water and on land--which the scientists are studying. Making a connection with the merman, Elisa finds someone who sees her as whole, not a misfit. When the scientists decide to open up the merman and see how he works, Elisa and her friends with the help of a Soviet spy set out to free him.
Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon) captured the merman in South America and has brought him to the center in order to find a way to replicate the breathing system for astronauts, allowing them to breathe in space. Using violence to control the creature, Strickland must get the answers he needs or face his own demise. But the merman isn’t complacent nor friendly to anyone other than Elisa. Michael Shannon’s character is angry, brutal and often does things for the shock value. His fascination with both the merman and Elisa borders on obsession.
Guillermo del Toro co-wrote the screenplay with Vanessa Taylor but the idea was based on the Creature from the Black Lagoon movie which he saw as a child. The Shape of Water resonates with audiences because of the lush visuals as well as the undertones of inequality. The beauty of the love story between Elisa and the merman is touching and leaves us with a good feeling.
With a lot of nudity and swearing, The Shape of Water is not for the younger audience or the faint of heart. But it will leave you believing in the impossible.
Both movies are based on real people but tell the stories in very different ways. Both were nominated for Golden Globes and are compelling movies to see, but for different reasons.
The Greatest Showman tells the story of PT Barnum (Hugh Jackman) who sets out to bring his dreams to fruition through sharing spectacles with the general public. The Greatest Showman is a musical written by the same duo who did the award winning LaLa Land from last year. The music is catchy and the story is a wonderful tale of underdogs who set out to set New York on its ears.
While based on a real person, The Greatest Showman is mostly fiction. The story blends the truth with amazing song and dance numbers. Many of the characters were based on real people but two characters were completely fiction (Phillip Carlyle, played by Zac Efron and Anne Wheeler, played by Zendaya). The screenwriter also played with the timeline and gave the audience a simple image of a man who is still quoted today. PT Barnum went on to serve in government and as a lecturer.
The Greatest Showman will have you feeling good and tapping your feet along to the music. You will leave the theater feeling good as the message of inclusion and overcoming adversity is a message we all can hear again and again.
The Darkest Hour is about Winston Churchill’s (played by Gary Oldman) rise to power in the British Government during the time when Hitler was conquering Europe during World War Two. Not the ruling party’s first choice, Winston Churchill came into a tough situation and stood firm in the face of horrible adversity as the German’s advanced through France.
Also based on a real person, The Darkest Hour tells a more honest look at the man who commanded a country in the face of war. His decision to not enter into peace talks with Hitler, almost lost him the support of the party. Churchill’s way with words garnered him the support of the people which in turn provided him the support in the Parliament.
The Darkest Hour is a war movie without any real fighting. Emotionally draining at times, it provides an interesting look at a period of history and a man who stayed true to himself in the face of adversity. While also a movie where one man faces adversity, The Darkest Hour will have you feeling pensive as you leave, but it provides an important look at a period of history which as Americans, we know very little about.
Both movies are entertaining in their own ways and serve as an interesting look at real people.
The eighth story in the Star Wars series catches viewers up with what’s happened with all the characters after the last movie. Rey has sought out Luke Skywalker at Leia’s urging because he is the one person who can inspire hope in the resistance as they face their toughest challenge, Snoke and the First Order.
Ben Solo (Kylo Ren) is battling his own demons and connects with Rey as they explore the strength of their connection and the force within each of them. Sometimes it’s nice to know you are not alone.
The Last Jedi harkens back to the original trilogy with characters from the past showing up and landscapes which seem familiar but two things stand out. The Last Jedi has a strong female empowerment vibe with many of the main characters in leadership positions being women, especially in the resistance. From General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) to new leadership like Vice Admiral Holdo (played by Laura Dern) to new characters like Rose Tico and Lieutenant Connix (played by Carrie Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd).
Second, the animals steal the show. From cute little bird like creatures who make Chewy rethink being a meat-eater to the frost foxes, the animals are adorable and will be big sellers on the plush market!
A little slow off the start, the movie quickly picks up the pace as we get into the characters and their choices. The story is one of hope. Love overcoming hate and family-both those you are given and the ones you make. With sweeping landscapes and on the edge of your seat battles, the storyline keeps the series fresh while giving many nods to the past and by that I mean the first three movies which launched it all. Small pieces of humor allow The Last Jedi lighter moments than The Force Awakens. At times you won’t be sure whether to laugh or cry.
Especially touching are those moments on screen with Carrie Fisher and the closing credits which acknowledge our loss. Maybe not the best of the whole series but The Last Jedi hits the right notes with fans and new viewers.
Tommy Lee Jones and Morgan Freeman battle each other to find out who is top dog at a retirement village. What could go wrong?
Duke Diver (Morgan Freeman) juggles three women, has an amazing short game and manages the trendiest retirement village in California, but he’s about to be taken off his pedestal when a former military man, Leo (Tommy Lee Jones) arrives. As the women announce, there is new meat on the buffet.
Everyone has a secret… Duke is in witness protection after squealing on the mob, Renee Russo’s character, Suzie, is sent by corporate to fire Duke for inappropriate use of funds and Leo wants to buy the property and turn it into a mall. When the mob sets its sights on Duke, Leo and Suzie are caught in the middle of the mess.
The one-up-manship between Duke and Leo goes from the golf course to the limbo line. Each man trying to prove that they are the big dog and that the other should step aside. Duke is more interested in keeping his lady’s man lifestyle while Leo is more interested in winning Suzie’s heart. Along the way, the two men forge a friendship in order to keep the community safe from the mob.
Meant to be a partner comedy movie along the veins of Men in Black and Lethal Weapon, Just Getting Started falls flat. Tommy Lee Jones and Morgan Freeman lack the chemistry to make this a bromance. They seem more tired than funny. And Renee Russo appears as whiny and weak…so unlike what a corporate “fixer” would be. All the potential is there, but the whole movie falls flat. This is a movie I would wait to see on television rather than spending the money and time to see it this holiday season.
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