Film Review: “MR-9: Do or Die”


  • MR-9:  DO OR DIE
  • Starring:  Abm Sumon, Michael Jai White and Frank Grillo
  • Directed by:  Asif Akbar
  • Rated:  Not Rated
  • Running time:  2 hrs 4 mins
  • Premiere Entertainment Group


I have followed the career of filmmaker Asif Akbar since his eye-opening documentary “Top Priority: the Terror Within” in 2010.  In 2018, he made his solo feature directing debut with the sci-fi thriller “Astro,” a film he co-wrote.  As the years rolled on, his films became bigger and better.  And with his latest, “MR-9: Do or Die,” he has delivered the biggest and the best.


In a remote C.I.A. field office, a pair of agents are planning their upcoming mission.  After going through all the particulars, one says to the other, “Let’s not make a scene this time.”  Oops.


Action packed from start to finish, “MR-9: Do or Die” follows the adventures of B.C.I. (Bangladesh Counter Intelligence Agency) agent Masud Rana (Sumon), code name MR-9.  He is put to work to investigate a pair of brothers whose robotics company is up to no good.  As he literally travels the world to foil the brothers plot the body count grows.  And grows.  And grows!


There are two kinds of action films.  One kind is horribly paced, with really nothing going on between the action scenes.  For an example I offer the George Clooney film, “The American,” which was such a snoofefest I had to think for a couple of minutes before I remembered the title.  An example of a great action film is this summer’s latest installment in the “Mission Impossible: series, “Dead Reckoning.”  As in that film, the action here is non-stop, with the characters only taking a few moments to catch their breaths, presumably to allow the audience to do the same.


The performances are strong and Akbar’s pacing spot on.  Like “MI: Dead Reckoning,” the extended running time moves quickly.  Another thing in common – there is more to this adventure to come.


The film is beautifully shot, with each of the global destinations captured in their own individual beauty.  Credit Director of Photography Mark David and Production Designer Chad Quick for the amazing look of the film and composer Ricky Kej for his Bondian-themed score, a perfect accompaniment for the action on-screen.


MR-9: Do or Die” receives four out of a total of five stars.



FIRST LOOK – Amazon Studios’ “Totally Killer”



(L-R): Anna Diaz as Heather Hernandez, Olivia Holt as Teen Pam, Liana Liberato as Tiffany Clark, Stephi Chin-Salvo as Marisa Song, Kiernan Shipka as Jamie Hughes in Totally Killer | Credit: Prime Video


Thirty-five years after the shocking murder of three teens, the infamous “Sweet Sixteen Killer“ returns on Halloween night to claim a fourth victim. Seventeen-year-old Jamie (Kiernan Shipka) ignores her overprotective mom’s (Julie Bowen) warning and comes face-to-face with the masked maniac and, on the run for her life, accidentally time travels back to 1987, the year of the original killings. Forced to navigate the unfamiliar and outrageous culture of the 1980s, Jamie teams up with her teen mom (Olivia Holt) to take down the killer once and for all, before she’s stuck in the past forever.


Julie Bowen as Pam Hughes in Totally Killer | Credit: Prime Video


Directed by Nahnatchka Khan

Written by David Matalon, Sasha Perl-Raver, Jen D’Angelo

Produced by Jason Blum, Adam Hendricks, p.g.a., Greg Gilreath, p.g.a.

Starring Kiernan Shipka, Olivia Holt, Charlie Gillespie, Lochlyn Munro, Troy Leigh-Anne Johnson, Liana Liberato, Kelcey Mawema, Stephi Chin-Salvo, Anna Diaz, Ella Choi, Jeremy Monn-Djasgnar, Nathaniel Appiah and Jonathan Potts with Randall Park and Julie Bowen

Jonathan Potts as Chris Dubasage in Totally Killer | Credit: Prime Video


Totally Killer will premiere globally on October 6, exclusively on Prime Video

Film Review: “Strays”


  • Starring the voices of:  Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx and Isla Fisher
  • Directed by:  Josh Greenbaum
  • Rated:  R
  • Running time:  1 hr 33 mins
  • Universal


Meet Reggie (Ferrell), a terrier that worships his owner, Doug (Will Forte).  Because dogs love unconditionally, Reggie doesn’t realize that Doug hates him, blaming Reggie for the breakup of his latest relationship.  Which means that, when Doug repeatedly drives Reggie out into the country and tosses a tennis ball, Reggie thinks he’s playing a game.  He’s not.  Doug is, in a term all dogs hate to hear, “a bad boy.”  After one such game of fetch, Reggie finds himself lost.  But his life changes when he makes some new friends.


Crude, crass and incredibly funny, “Strays” follows the adventures of a quartet of dogs who learn that being a part of a pack isn’t always a bad thing.  Bug (Foxx) is the streetwise boxer, proud of being a stray, hiding a secret.  Reggie and Bug are joined by Maggie (Fisher) and Hunter (Randall Park), two dogs that have owners but feel neglected.  Maggie because her owner has gotten a new puppy and Hunter, who once trained to be a police dog, who now wears a cone around his neck.  Together they forge their way across rainy city streets and vast stretches of woods to get Reggie back to the undeserving Doug.  It’s like “Homeward Bound” if Chance and Sassy dropped F-bombs.  A lot.  “The Wolf of Wall Street” currently holds the record for most uses of the “F” word in one film – 715.  “Strays” may actually break that record.



The voice performers have fun with their roles, and their banter is often quite funny.  A word of warning though.  Despite the posters featuring cute dogs, “Strays” is not for children.  I was amazed at how many children were at the screening I attended.  I was even more amazed that not one parent took a child out. So, if you’re looking for an outrageous time at the movies, give “Strays” a watch.  But leave the kiddies home.

“Strays” receives a total of three stars out of five.   



Film Review: “The Last Voyage of the Demeter”

  • Starring:  Corey Hawkins, Liam Cunningham and Javier Botet
  • Directed by:  Andre Ovrefal
  • Rated:  R
  • Running time:  1 hr 59 mins
  • Universal

1897.  At the docks in Carpathia the sailing ship Demeter prepares for its journey to England. A few men short, the Captain (Cunningham) goes into the local tavern to recruit some help.  All goes well as they fill the hold.  But what’s in that big box full of dirt?


Based on “The Captain’s Log” chapter in Bram Stoker’s classic novel, “Dracujla,” “The Last Voyage of the Demeter” is a fine entry in a series of Dracula inspired films dating back to 1929’s unauthorized classic “Nosferatu.”


One of the men taken aboard, Mr. Clemens (Hawkins), is an Oxford trained doctor whose skin color has prevented him from getting a job.  Needing to return to England, he takes the gig, seeing it as a free ride home.  On board is the usual assortment of colorful characters, including the loyal first mate, the precocious grandson of the captain, the loveable dog.  And someone else.  Or is it something?


The film is well paced, with occasional bits of humor interlaced with truly horrific moments.  The tension on board, especially at night, and during a storm, is so thick you can cut it with a knife.  As livestock, and then shipmates, are discovered dead, with their throats ripped out, the superstitious crew begins to paint fingers at anyone and anything.

The performances are strong, and the film goes out of its way to avoid many of the standard horror film tropes, which makes for quite a few “wow, I didn’t expect that” moments.


The production design is top notch, as are the visual and makeup effects.


A perfect combination of gore and terror, “The Last Voyage of the Demeter” is a trip you definitely want to take if you are a horror film fan.


“The Last Voyage of the Demeter” receives a total of four out of five stars.

Film Review: “The Baker”

  • Starring:  Ron Perlman, Emma Ho and Harvey Keitel
  • Directed by:  Jonathan Sobol
  • Rated:  R
  • Running time:  1 hr 44 mins
  • Darius Films


While sitting in his car in a parking garage a man witnesses a brutal fight between a group of men that ends with everyone dead.  As he begins to call 911 he sees a large canvas bag.  He grabs the bag and runs.  Big mistake.


A film that shares a lot of movie DNa with “The History of Violence” and “Nobody,” “The Baker” tells the story of a man who is forced to return to a part of his life he thought he had left behind in order to protect his family.  Here the man (Lan always excellent Perelman) is a simple baker, quietly making rolls in his kitchen when his son unexpectedly drops by.  Also unexpected?  A granddaughter he never knew existed.  The son asks his father to watch the girl for a short while as he takes care of some business.  Reluctant to do so, but understanding the bond of family, the man agrees.  What’s the girl’s name, he asks?  Delphi.


Packed with action and bolstered by the performances of the cast, “The Baker” rises above the standard “anything for my family” tropes by exploring both the amotional baggage of the Baker and Delphi (Ho).  We learn that the girl hasn’t spoken since the passing of her mother, silently chronicling all she sees with a small camera.  Even without words, the bond between grandfather and granddaughter grow.


I have been a fan of Ron Perelman’s since “Quest for Fire” and he has turned in some fine performances in film as diverse as “The Name of the Rose” and the “Hellboy” series.  As a young boy my son loved watching the television series “Beauty and the Beast,” even though he thought it was called “Beauty and the Priest.”  I once metl Perelman in New York and he signed a photo to my son, writing “the Priest” below his signature after I told him my son’s perception of the title.


Also standing out on screen, young Ms. Ho, who conveys more with her eyes then most actors can with an entire monologue.  And it’s always fun to see Harvey Keitel on screen, here chewing scenery as the bad guy behind the film’s opening brutality.


As summer winds down, and you are overwhelmed by all of the “Barbieheimer” social media posts, I recommend taking the time to seek out “The Baker.”  It “rises” to the occasion.


“The Baker” receives three and a half our of five stars.

New Book Review: “Soldier: From Script to Screen”


  • Author:  Danny Stewart
  • 134 pages
  • BearManor Media


Danny Stewart really loves the film “Soldier.”  I know this because, when he learned I had never seen it, he sent me a Blu-ray of the film.  Stewart has turned his love for this film into an entertaining book that not only covers the making of the film but includes interviews with the film’s writer as well as members of the cast and crew.


A 1998 release, “Soldier” has an impressive pedigree.  The film was written by David Webb Peoples, the Academy Award nominated writer of the Oscar winning Best Picture “Unforgiven.”  The book makes a case for “Soldier” being the first in a new sub-genre’ – the Sci-Fi Western.


Also included is a look at the extensive career of star Kurt Russell as well as the critical response the film received.  It’s fun to look back at how the film was viewed 25-years ago, as well as to read the reminiscences of those interviewed.  Fans of the film will also appreciate a full listing of the cast and crew credits.


At 134 pages, the book is a quick read and it’s obvious that Stewart has a great affection for the film.  Even if you’re not a fan of “Soldier,” the behind-the-scenes stories provide an interesting look at all that goes into making a movie.

Theater/Concert Review: “RAIN – a Tribute to the Beatles


  • JULY 21, 2023


I was 9 years old when the Beatles broke up, almost four years after the band stopped touring so I never had the opportunity to see them perform live.  As a child of the 1960s, I was swept up in Beatlemania.  The very first record I ever bought with my own money was the “Hello Goodbye” 45 single.  I have a couple of older friends that did see the band live, one of which grew up in Liverpool and had the band play his school dance, back when the lineup included Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe.  I’ve seen Paul McCartney live many times, and it’s always great to hear him do a Beatles song, but I always thought that was the closest I’d ever come to seeing the band on stage.  I was wrong!


A musical/multimedia celebration, RAIN is a two hour journey through the adventures of the Fab Four, from their appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show’ to their final roof top concert.  Each song is performed flawlessly, both musically and vocally.  The show consists of four featured mjsicians – Steve Landes on vocals/rhythm guitar, Paul Curatolo (vocals/bas), Aaron Chazza (drums) and Alastar Mcneil (vocals/lead guitar).  Landes and Curatolo also handle piano duties.  They are joined by a very talented Mark Beyer, who handles the background instruments, including piano, strings and horns.    I look at him like Billy Preston.


If you are wondering why I don’t list Mr. Landes as John, Mr. Curatolo as Paul, etc it’s because that is not how they are identified in the program.  I know from doing research on a Beatles themed book that the lads are very protective of everything of theirs, including their names.  Over newsreel footage from the past, familiar quotes by the lads are heard, but they are recreated comments.  The boys are even protective of their voices.


Each member is outstanding on their instruments, with Mr. Chazza providing a perfect backbeat.  Mr. McNeil had the licks down perfectly, but was indeed playing the “quiet” Beatle as none of Harrison’s songs were performed.  I do see that a couple of Harrison’s songs are noted In the program, so maybe the set lists change nightly.  One thing that did catch my attention was that, even though “Paul” was playing bass left handed, when he brought out the acoustic guitar to solo on “Yesterday,” he was playing right handed.  Which to me, someone who plays guitar, is an amazing feat!  I’ve never heard of an ambidextrous musician before, but Mr. Curatolo excelled on both instruments.


RAIN runs through July 23rd at Starlight Theater.  For tickets to these or future shows, please click HERE.


RAIN receives five out of a total of five stars!   

Film Review: “Tiger Within”

  • Starring:  Ed Asner and and Margot Josefsohn
  • Directed by:  Rafal Zielinski
  • Rated:  Not Rated
  • Running time:  1 hr 38 mins
  • Menemsha Films


I didn’t have to move to the Kansas City area to understand the power of the late Ed Asner.  A local boy from the Kansas side of the state line, Asner went on to an amazing acting  career, earning (7) Emmy Awards (tied for third place in most acting wins with his “Mary Tyler Moore Show” co-star Mary Tyler Moore).

I grew up watching him on such long-running shows as “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (Emmy) and “Lou Grant” (Emmy) as well as such mini-series’ as “Rich Man, Poor Man” (Emmy) and “Roots” (Emmy).  On a more personal note, I had the amazing opportunity to interview him once and he loved the fact that I felt his best role was as Axel Jordache in “Rich Man, Poor Man,” especially because he felt the same way.  And even more personal, he is only the second celebrity who asked my permission to give my wife a kiss on the cheek – the other being Jay Osmond.   So when I learned that one of his final films was being released I jumped at the chance to see it.

Casey (Josefsohn) is the new girl in class.  No sooner does she sit down at her desk when, thanks to an obnoxious classmate, she is sent to the principal’s office.  Returning to the home she shares with her mother and abusive boyfriend, Casey feels the time has come to leave Ohio and visit her father in Los Angeles.  Soon she finds that things aren’t always sunny on the West coast.  Until she meets Samuel.

A true coming of age story, “Tiger Within” is the story of a girl who refuses to conform to anyone’s perception of who she should be.  Realizing that her father and his new family aren’t really excited at her arrival, Casey decides to strike out on her own in the big city, sleeping wherever she can find space, including a local cemetery that Samuel (Asner) visits often.  Concerned for the young girl, he offers to buy her lunch and let her clean up at his apartment.  As time goes by, the two develop a true kinship, one that allows Casey to conquer her fears and embrace the tiger within.

The film works in many ways, but the key are the performances of Asner and Josefsohn.  Samuel is a Jew who last most of his family during the Holocaust.  He is appalled that Casey has a swastika on her jacket and even more appalled that she not only thinks of it as just a way to say “F-you” but that she has been taught that the Holocaust was false.  The film is eye opening in this way, tackling other social issues, including sex trafficking.

The script is well written, with the occasional bit of humor to bring some levity to some serious issues.   The film moves smoothly and takes advantage of the fact that Casey is always drawing in her notebook by using animated versions of Casey’s art to denote scene transitions.

Though the film is not rated, it does deal with some serious issues.  But it is the handling of those issues, and Asner’s performance, that make this film a must see!

On a scale of zero to five I give “Tiger Within” four stars.  

Blu-ray Review: “Book Club: the Next Chapter”


The pandemic hit everyone differently.  For the women of the Book Club, it meant having their conversations virtually.  Now that things are back to “normal,” the ladies decide to meet again.  In Italy!

Oscar® winners Diane Keaton (Father of the Bride, Something’s Gotta Give), Jane Fonda (80 for Brady, “Grace and Frankie”) and Mary Steenburgen (The Proposal, Parenthood), and Oscar® nominee Candice Bergen.  
“An irresistible crowd pleaser” (Deadline), BOOK CLUB: THE NEXT CHAPTER showcases an all-star supporting cast alongside the four esteemed leading ladies including Oscar® nominees Andy Garcia (Ocean’s Eleven, The Godfather Part III) and Giancarlo Giannini (Quantum of Solace, Casino Royale), Primetime Emmy Award® winner Craig T. Nelson (“Parenthood,” “Coach”), and Primetime Emmy Award® nominee Don Johnson (Knives Out, “Miami Vice”).
The highly anticipated sequel follows our four best friends as they take their book club to Italy for the fun girls trip they never had. When things go off the rails and secrets are revealed, their relaxing vacation turns into a once-in-a-lifetime cross-country adventure.

The cast bring a familiarity to the film, as if they truly are old friends, and play wrll off each other.  The Italian landscape is beautifully shot and well transferred and jumps off the screen while the sound, in DTS-HD MA 5.1 is crystal clear.

Bonus material is scarce and includes:

Book Club: Back In Session (6:05) – Standard EPK that takes a look at the filming while highlighting moments from the first film.

Still Stylish (5:19) – You can’t have a film with four stylish actresses and not talk about their wardrobe!

The Women In Italy (5:29) – A look at how the filmmakers chose Italy as a location as well as the adventures the cast and crew had there.


Film Review: “Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

  • Starring:  Tom Cruise, Hayley Atwell and Ving Rhames
  • Directed by:  Christopher McQuarrie
  • Rated:  PG 13
  • Running time:  2 hrs 43 mins
  • Paramount


Tom Cruise just turned 61 last week.  But when you watch his latest action thriller you may not believe that.  To call his latest “Mission Impossible’ epic “a non-stop rollercoaster ride of action” may actually be a slight.


A new, top secret submarine is testing out it’s new technology – one that makes it entirely invisible to any kind of radar.  As the sub is about to end it’s journey the captain is alarmed to find his sub being identified and fired upon.  This can’t be happening.  Right?

While the first two film in the “Mission Impossible” series were entertaining, heled by acclaimed filmmakers Brian De Palma and John Woo.  Yet, there always seemed to be something missing.  That missing piece was found in Part III, under the direction of J.J. Abrams.  A combination of action and story that continues wth the seventh installment of tghe series, “Dead Reckoning.”,

This time the story finds Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his Impossible Mission team (Rhames and Simon Pegg) trying to find the way to stop an A.I. program known as the Entity that is becoming more and more sentient.  Along the way, they cross paths with a world class thief (Atwell), a true villain (Esai Morales) and even their own government, which, of course, is an oxymoron since by rule the government has no knowledge of their actions.


And what action it is!  From high speed car chases and train rides to an amzing freebase jump of fthe back of a motorcycle (no spoilers here – it’s in the commercials) the film actually is a non-stop roller coaster ride of action!

In between the spectacular set pieces is a well crafted story, co-written by director McQuarrie, who won the Oscar nearly three decades for the legendary “The Usuasl Suspects.”  The story here has the same attention to details that McQuasrrie brought to “The Usual suspects” and we are kept guessing who is good and who is bad with each new twist.

Despite a running time of nearly three hours, the film flows smoothly, with nary a slow moment on screen.  That being said, I can understand why they decided to split the story into two films, as I can’t see audiences sitting through a five hour plus epic, no matter how entertaining it is.

One more note.  Cruise is a producer on the film and my only thought is because no other producer would insure him.  He has upped the ante of his stunts in every “Mission Impossible’ film and his work here is among the best I’ve ever seen on film.

You’re mission, shoud you decide to accept it, is to check out “Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” as soon as you can.

On a scale of zero to five I give “Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” four and a half stars.   

Film Review: “Mermaids’ Lament” (Review #2)

  • Starring:  Dayva Summer Escobar and Justina Mattos
  • Directed by:  G.B. Hajim
  • Rated:  Not Rated
  • Running time:  1 hr 31 mins
  • Tween Sea and Sand Productions


Imagine having the ability to swim and socialize with your friends all day, not a care in the world.  If you’re a mermaid, life is pretty good.  At least until you get caught in a fishing net.  Then life can be pretty brutal.

Beautifully shot, with a script by director Hajim that delves into much more then you might expect, “Mermaid’s Lament” is buoyed by two very different performances, one almost silent and another raging.

Oee  – pronounced Oh-Eee – (Escobar) finds herself on a beach, totally alone and scared.  She makes her way to the highway, where she is spotted by Dr. Nell Jamison (Mattos), who takes the young woman first to town and, after Oee encounters a few troublemakers, to her home.  Dr. Nell is a psychiatrist and Oee is a woman in need of one.  Oee has lost her voice and this fact, along with a few things Dr. Nell considers “unusual” form not only a doctor/patient relationship but one that might be considered mother/daughter.  Nell truly cares for Oee and her well-being, but she also has some baggage of her own that effects her work and her relationship with Oee.

Both Escobar and Mattos bring true emotion to their performances, a fine achievement when you learn that both actresses are making their feature film debut.  The cinematography, by co-DPs Roselia Hernandez and Ronn Murray, is beautiful, particular the underwater shots.  The story is also complimented by an original musical score by Jessica Jarvis and Sharneisha Joyner.

On a scale of zero to five, I give “Mermaids’ Lament” three stars.  

Film Review: “Joy Ride”


  • Starring:  Ashley Park, Sherry Cola  and Annie Mumolo
  • Directed by:  Adele Lim
  • Rated:  R
  • Running time:  1 hr 35 mins
  • Lionsgate

After moives inspired by “The Simpsons” and “Bob;s Burgers” I have waited patiently for a “Family Guy” film.  Sadly, Seth McFarlane has not heeded my wishes.  That being said, with a script co-written by long time “Family Guy” writer Cherry Chevapravatdumrong, “Joy Ride” is a great consolation prize.


Audrey (Isla Rose Hall) is an Asian girl who was adopted by white Americans as a child.  Her parents, hoping to help her appreciate her heritage, introduce themselves to another Asian family at the playground.  There she meets the family’s young daughter, Lolo (Chloe Pun).  The two become best friends and set out on their paths as adults.  However, despite their shared heritage, their paths are quite different.

Outrageously funny, and just a little naughty, “Joyride” is a major filmmaking achievement, avoiding the stereotypical portrayal of Asians on screen and replacing them with a well written and well performed story that feels real.

Now an adult, Audrey (Park) is an attorney who is asked to represent her firm to a prospective client in China.  Nervous for a multitude of reasons, she takes her bestie Lolo (Cola) with her, along with Lolo’s cousin, Deadeye (Sabrina Wu), who is a huge KPop fan.  Audrey also plans to meet us with Kat (Stephanie Hsu), a friend from college who has found success on a Chinese soap opera.  As Audrey and her friends start their adventures, they all find much more then they are looking for.

This film has been compared to Kristen Wiig’s “Bridesmaids,” and rightly so.  Where the former film showed that women can be as raunchy as men, “Joyride” takes that achievement a step further, showing a little seen side of a culture that is often portrayed as cold and unemotional.

To say any more would give away some major plot points, but suffice it to say that the laughs are plentiful, with a few truly emotional moments thrown in to balance the story.  If you’re in need of a laugh – a real, genuine belly laugh – then I highly recommend “Joy Ride.”

On a scale of zero to five, I give “Joy Ride” four stars.  




Film Review: “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”


  • Starring:  Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Mads MikMikkelsen
  • Directed by:  James Mangold
  • Rated:  PG 13
  • Running time:  2 hrs 34 mins
  • Walt Disney Pictures

If Adventure has a name…it must be Indiana Jones.  A great tag line for 1984’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”   Nearly four decades later, those words still ring true.


Our story begins in 1939, where once again Dr. Henry Jones, Jr – Indy to his friends – (Ford) is battling his old nemesis, the Nazi Parry.  This time the bad guys are trying to posses the lance that pierced Jesus on the Cross.  They also have a little something something created by the great mathematician Archimedes that, if the story is true, can be used to influence time.  Not a bad trinket to have on your shelf.


Packed with non-stop action from beginning to end, “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” gives our hero one last adventure, and it’s a doozy.  The story picks up in 1969.  Man has just returned from the moon, thanks in part to a German mathematician (Mikkelsen) who may or may not have had a run in or two with Dr. Jones.  While the astronauts have their parade, Dr. Jones is teaching his last class, heading into what he believes will be a quiet retirement.  But a surprise visit from his Goddaughter, Helena (Waller-Bridge) gives him one last chance to put on the fedora.



Though I really enjoyed it, many fans were disappointed in 2008s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which was directed by the master Steven Spielberg.  What would a film directed by the man best known for “Walk the Line” and “Cop Land” offer fans?  The answer?  Plenty!  Mangold sets a frantic pace throughout the film, breaking up major action set pieces with brief moments of conversation to give the audience time to catch its collective breath.


The cast is stellar, with Ford once again at his adventurous and wisecracking self.  Waller-Bridge matches him stunt for stunt, and is a great Ying to Ford’s Yang.  Supporting work by Toby Jones, Antonio Banderas and young Ethann Isidore keep the film moving when the action slows down.  It’s a cliché, but I would pay to see Mads Mikkelsen read the phone book.  In films as diverse as “Casino Royale” and “The Hunt,” he has given some masterful performances.  His work here is another triumph.


Though rated PG 13, the film is a little darker than other films in the series (and I say that knowing that a character had his heart pulled from his chest in “Temple of Doom,” helping to usher in the PG 13 rating.  There are some violent scenes in “Dial of Destiny,” and that well-known sound effect called the “Wilhelm Scream” gets quite a workout.


That being said, it’s a true pleasure to see Indiana Jones back on the big screen, where he and his adventures belong.  After all, it’s not the years.  It’s the miles!


On a scale of zero to five, I give “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” five stars.  



Concert Review: The Doobie Brothers – 50th Anniversary Tour

  • The Doobie Brothers – 50th Anniversary Tour
  • Starlight Theater
  • Kansas City, Missouri


Some of my fondest musical memories came courtesy of the Doobie Brothers.  I still remember the episode of “What’s Happening!” where the boys got caught sneaking a tape recorder into one of the band’s concerts.  My high school kitchen band – that’s where we rehearsed – used to do a kick ass version of “China Grove.”  When he was younger, my son and his mother used to sing along to “Black Water” every day on the ride to school.  And I loved how almost every photo of Tom Johnston in the mid-70s showed him wearing a “Jaws” t-shirt!  The band went from being big to being HUGE once Michael McDonald came on board, with the band winning four Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year for “What a Fool Believes.”  Like most bands, the members eventually went their seperate ways and I’ve seen both the Doobies and Michael McDonald in the past.  But never todgether.  Until now!


Patrick Simmons


Kicking off their amazing (24) song set with “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While),” the band took myself and a sold out Starlight Theater crowd on an amazing trip down memory lane.  The vocals were solid and the music was tight, as 50-years of music poured over the willing crowd who sang along at every chance.


Michael McDonald

Other well known songs, including “You Belong to Me,” “It Keeps You Runnin’,” and “Takin’ It to the Streets” were mixed in with great album cuts like “South City Midnight Lady” and “Eyes of Silver” kept the crowd up on their feet and dancing all night.  Other highlights included a rousing version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” with McDonald at his most soulful and a great cover of Steely Dan’s “Pretzel Logic.”


Besides founding member Patrick Simmons, along with long time Doobie’s McDonald and John McFee, the band included long time touring members John Cowan on bass and the amazing Marc Russo on the saxophone.


Marc Russo


The Doobie Brother’s 50th Anniversary Tour runs at least through October.  For tickets and tour information please click HERE!


SET LISTTake Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While), Here to Love You, Dependin’ on You, Rockin’ Down the Highway, Neal’s Fandango, You Belong to Me, Slack Key Soquel Rag, South City Midnight Lady, Clear as the Driven Snow, It Keeps You Runnin’, Eyes of Silver, I Heard it Through the Grapevine, Better Days, Real Love, Minute by Minute, Without You, Jesus is Just Alright, What a Fool Believes, Long Train Runnin’, China Grove  ENCORE:  Black Water, Takin’ It to the Streets, Listen to the Music, Pretzel Logic.  





FIlm Review: “The Flash” – SPOILER FREE


  • Starring:  Ezra Miller, Sasha Calle and Michael Keaton
  • Directed by:  Andy Muschietti
  • Rated:  PG 13
  • Running time:  2 hrs 24 mins
  • Warner Bros.


Whoever said that breakfast was the most important meal of the day must have known Barry Allen.  Because of his quick metabolism, brought about due to the fact that he is the fastest person on Earth, Barry must constantly eat.  And when his usual sandwich maker takes a day off, things quickly go from bad to worse for the Scarlett Speedster.


I promised a SPOILER FREE review so here goes…


Action packed from beginning to end, “The Flash” is the DC movie fans have been waiting for.  We find Barry Allen (an excellent Miller) working at a crime lab while continuing to prove the innocence of his father (Ron Livingston), who is in prison after being found guilty of killing his wife.  Barry can’t help but think back to a better time when he was a young boy and Sundays were spent in the kitchen with his mother.  While zooming around Barry discovers that, if he can generate enough speed, he can go back in time.  Despite a warning from his friend Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck), Barry decides to turn back the clock, hoping to prevent his mother’s death.  But things are never as easy as they seem.



I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed this movie.  When I first heard the word “Multiverse” in previews I thought this would be a rip-off of “spider-man: No Way Home.”  I was wrong.  The script, by Christina Hobson and Joby Harold, is full of surprises, both good and bad.  New characters are introduced, most notably Kara Zor-El (Calle), cousin of a certain well-known Kryptonian.  We also see some familiar faces, including General Zod (the always solid Michael Shannon).  And, damn it, we get to reunite with the amazing Michael Keaton, returning as Batman.  He is older and wiser, certainly, but when he utters two words – “I’m Batman” – all is right with the world.  All of the performances are strong and I must give special kudos to Ezra Miller, who does double duty as both present day and past Barry.  To me, Miller’s dry-witted Flash was the highlight of the “Justice League” film.  In this film, two Millers are better than one!


Despite its length, the film moves quickly.  Director Muschietti, who helmed the two “IT” films, keeps a smooth pace, melding drama and action seamlessly.  The production design captures the various time periods well, and fans of 1989’s “Batman” will enjoy reuniting with some familiar modes of transportation!


Phew.  I did it.  NO SPOILERS!  No matter where you are in the multiverse, take a trip to the cinema and see “The Flash.”


“The Flash” earns five stars out of five.


“The Flash” opens on June 16, 2023.