Film Review: ELVIS


  • Starring: Austin Butler and Tom Hanks
  • Directed b:  Baz Luhrmann
  • Rated:  PG 13
  • Running time:  2 hrs 29 mins
  • Warner Bros


When I was 16 one of my first jobs was valet parking cars at the Hawaiian Village Resort in Tampa, Florida.  As it was close to the old Tampa Stadium, and the Buccaneers had just come to Tampa, I worked every Sunday game day.  One day a large man in an even larger car pulled up.  As he handed me his keys he told me to “put it where you can see it, son.”  I moved an older Volkswagen from the front row directly in front of the Valet stand to the side of the Ramada and put his Cadillac in the vacated spot.   After the game – I don’t have to tell you it was a Buccaneer’s loss since the team lost their first (24) games – he returned to the Valet stand and handed me his ticket.  He seemed please that I really only had to walk across the driveway to retrieve his car.  When he got in he handed me a $5 bill – that was HUGE money in 1976 and got into his car.  Almost as an aside he asked me, “Do you like Elvis, son?”  When I replied that I did, he pulled an envelope out of his glove compartment, reached in and pulled out what appeared to be tickets.  He handed them to me without a word, rolled up his window and drove off.  They were tickets.  Tickets to see Elvis Presley at St. Petersburg’s Bay Front Center on February 14, 1977.   Wow!  Oh, did I mention that my very first concert was the King?


In his garish hotel room in Las Vegas, the man known as the Colonel falls to the ground, a victim of his bad heart.  As he hovers between life and death, he begins to tell his tale.  A tale about a young man from Memphis, Tennessee whose love of gospel music led him on a path of success that really has never been duplicated.  That young man?  Elvis Aron Presley.


Much has been written about Elvis Presley, from his over-doting mother to his young bride to his weight, but nothing you can find on the page can compare to Baz Luhrmann’s visual achievement ELVIS.  We discover that Elvis’s love for gospel music came at a young age, when he would attend revivals and “let the spirit” take over.  It is also at these revivals where he studied, and mastered, movements that would soon earn him the nickname “the Pelvis.”  It is by chance that Colonel Tom Parker (Hanks), a former carnival barker, happens on Presley during a performance on the radio show “Louisiana Hayride.”  If the Colonel knows anything, he knows what the public wants and his eyes tell him that soon every young woman in America will want Elvis Presley.


As played by Butler, Elvis is shy and polite, almost unaware of the impact he is having on the youth of America.  However, when his gyrations threaten to lose him work, and the Colonel implores him to become the new, “nice” Elvis, he rebels, realizing that it’s his entire body, not just his voice, that conveys a song.

As his success grows, the Colonel spreads his client thin:  public appearances, motion pictures and the then un-heard of business of merchandise.  T-shirts, toys, buttons…nothing is too tacky to stick Elvis’ name on.  When he questions the Colonel selling buttons that read “I HATE ELVIS,” he is told not to worry, as he’s getting a piece of that sale as well.  And a piece is really all he got.  It is well documented that the Colonel often took 50% of Elvis’ earnings, feeling that he’d earned them.


The film covers most of the major events in Elvis’ life – the rise to fame, his induction into the Army – when I was stationed in Germany I had an occasion or two to eat in the Elvis Presley Mess Hall in Friedberg, – his marriage to Priscilla, the 1968 Comeback Special and his sad, last years.  No matter the moment, Butler does an amazing job of conveying the Presley of the time.  This isn’t the impersonator who entertained at your last holiday party, this is a performance I’d liken to Jamie Foxx in “Ray” or Rami Malek in “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  Hanks is equally good, allowing the audience to see behind his dead eyes into the soul of a man with literally no past.


You would expect nothing less than the musical numbers to be perfectly staged by the director of “Moulin Rouge” and you would be right here.  Whether it’s the local fairgrounds or the studios of NBC, they jump off the screen with the same energy the room must have felt under Presley’s spell.


February 14, 1977.  Among a multitude of screams from the audience, Elvis looks out into the crowd and reminds us that the show isn’t over yet.  “So,” he says, “until we meet again…”  He then performed “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and then the show was over.  Elvis had left the building.  But not really.  Thanks to ELVIS, the King will NEVER leave the building!

Film Review: “Jurassic World Dominion”

  • Starring:  Chris Pratt, Sam Neil and Jeff Goldblum
  • Directed by:  Colin Trevorrow
  • Rated:  PG 13
  • Running time:  2 hrs 26 mins
  • Universal





Jurassic World Dominion (or as I like to call it, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Jurassic World) is the 3rd and supposedly final film of the Jurassic “World” Trilogy.  It’s an All-Star mash up fest of the cast of characters that have driven the storyline for the 6 films in the series.  The JP3,  Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill), still digging up bones, and Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) the paleobotanist, are back.  Jeff Goldblum returns as the quirky Dr. Ian Malcom. They are joined by the gang from the first two World films, Raptor trainer Owen Grady, played by Chris Pratt, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and BD Wong as OG Dr. Henry Wu.  Isabella Sermon as Maise Lockwood, and Campbell Scott as Dr. Lewis Dodgson, CEO of Biosyn Genetics.


The story takes place 30 years after Jurassic Park introduced Dinosaurs back into existence, and as we learned from JW Fallen Kingdom, they now live among humans, mostly in city neighborhood shadows, or for the Big D’s, in wide open spaces and oceans around the World.

There’s a threat to the food chain, kidnappings, and as always, bad elements seek to profit from the science, under the guise of doing good things for humanity, that doesn’t go well, and you know the rest.


Full to the brim with exciting chase sequences, touching romantic moments, and those awesome dinosaurs, Jurassic World Dominion is a good summer fun film for the family.  (Some intense scenes maybe a bit much for littles).   Several not so hidden throwbacks are thrown in throughout…keep an eye open.


Overall, a fitting end to the franchise…..maybe ?

Film Review 3: Top Gun: Maverick”


  • Starring: Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly
  • Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Running Time: 2 hrs 11 mins
  • Paramount Pictures
Pure, blissful summertime entertainment. Over thirty years in the making, “Top Gun: Maverick” lives up to all the hype and box office returns it has garnered over the past few days. It is nothing less than an epic thrill ride as Tom Cruise proves that a film does not need costumed heroes, grandiose special effects, or special cameos to be a great movie experience. In that respect, Cruise is a throwback to when a movie could be carried by the weight of the just one star’s name at the top of the movie poster. “Top Gun: Maverick” is moviemaking at its best and is a guaranteed good time at the theater.
Naval aviator Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise), whose insubordination has prevented him from ever rising up the ladder in rank, comes close to being kicked out of the military by Rear Admiral Chester “Hammer” Cain (Ed Harris) after he crashes an experimental aircraft. Instead of having to return to civilian life, Maverick’s champion, Admiral Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer) gets him transferred to the Top Gun school where he first made a name for himself. It’s not an option to his liking, but Maverick is left with little choice.
When he arrives in San Diego, Maverick is told he is to train an elite group of U.S. Navy aviators for a high-risk mission to knock out an underground uranium enrichment facility in an unnamed, rogue state. Complications abound as he not only has to deal with an antagonistic, clearly jealous superior officer in Admiral Beau “Cyclone” Simpson (Jon Hamm), but he also has to be the teacher of Lieutenant Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of his late wingman, Goose. It’s an estranged relationship and Maverick continues to be haunted by the tragic accident that occurred in the original film.
Of course, the film would not be complete without a bit of a love story, which comes in the form of Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly), the bartender of a local drinking establishment. Their relationship is of the on-again, off-again variety and while Penny was not in “Top Gun” she was mentioned by name as being an admiral’s daughter.
Cruise is in top form with a role reprisal that has him dig far deeper into his character than he ever did before. While there is still a reckless abandon about Maverick, Cruise and the script take it to a whole new level. It’s not that he has a death wish, but he is willing to take any risk afforded to him to seemingly fill a void. There is a deep seeded pain in his soul that is nothing less than PTSD from the experience of losing Goose. It haunts him daily and nightly, and the risks appear to be a way to drown it out. Cruise dominates the silver screen with his presence as he pulls off an incredible performance, punctuated in part by a heart-tugging scene with Kilmer.
Director Joseph Kosinski shot some of the greatest fighter jet footage ever put on film. The visuals are jaw droppingly wild with clearly some of the best pilots in the world demonstrating some absolutely insane skills. No greater recruiting film for the U.S. Air Force or Navy has ever been made.
Overall, if you have not seen “Top Gun: Maverick” yet, then why haven’t you?

Film Review: “Firestarter”


  • FIRESTARTER (2022)
  • Starring: Zac Efron, Ryan Kiera Armstrong
  • Directed by: Keith Thomas
  • Rating: R
  • Running Time: 1 hr 34 mins
  • Universal Pictures
In 1980, one of author Stephen King’s most iconic novels was published – “Firestarter.” The 426-page epic blend of science fiction and horror is just as good of a read now as it was then. As with a lot of King’s works, an inevitable movie adaptation was released in 1984 starring a young Drew Barrymore as the title character with the legendary George C. Scott and Martin Sheen playing her antagonists. While it remained relatively faithful to the book, the film was roundly panned by critics of the day and King himself was dismissive of the effort. Flash forward to present day when someone decided it was a great idea to remake the story with near-total disregard to King’s work. The newest incarnation of “Firestarter,” currently in theaters, is a jaw-droppingly bad film with a bland script, boorish acting and bad direction.
Through an experimental drug known only as Lot 6, college students Andy (Zac Efron) and Vicky (Sydney Lemmon, “Helstrom”) develop supernatural powers – telepathy for the former and telekinesis for the latter. They prove to be the only ones who survive experiment, or at least the only ones who remain sane. When they went on the run from a company known as DSI is unclear, but we are left to assume it started after the baby they had together began to exhibit pyrokinetic abilities.
After Captain Jane Hollister (played with melodramatic zeal by Gloria Reuben) is notified of their possible location, she reinstates cold-blooded assassin Rainbird (played with one dimensional abandon by Michael Greyeyes, “I Know This Much Is True”), who was also a guinea pig for Lot 6, to retrieve Charlie for study at her secret facility. Initially, he fails in his assignment as Andy and his 11-year-old daughter Charlie elude him. However, their freedom is short-lived when Andy is captured after they become separated. Desperate to return to her father, Charlie works to control her powers, which are numerous, over the course of just a few hours in the woods.
The newest incarnation of “Firestarter” should have never been released in theaters. It is not even worth a direct-to-streaming release. Its final destination should have been the scrap heap of horrible ideas. Ideas that involve someone thinking, “Hey, let’s ignore an already perfectly written story and turn it into a trainwreck.” There is nothing redeemable about this film. Period.
Efron’s performance exhibits the same amount of range as a tone-deaf piece of wood. There’s nothing in it to pulls us in and care about his character. However, this can be said of virtually every other bit of acting in the film. Armstrong is unable to shed tears when needed to and when one tragic event occurs, neither she nor Efron react with any sense of loss.
The pacing is boring, and the lack of suspense is palpable. If King didn’t like the 1984 film, which looks like a classic compared to this one, then he must despise this version ten-fold as it bears almost no resemblance to his book. Overall, stay away from “Firestarter” or you may get burned.

Film Review: “Memory”


  • Starring: Liam Neeson, Guy Pearce
  • Directed by: Martin Campbell
  • Rating: R
  • Running Time: 1 hr 54 mins
  • Open Road Films


Liam Neeson’s long career was reinvented in 2008 with the thriller “Taken.” Fifty-six years old at the time of its release, Leeson went on to play in numerous action films including “Cold Pursuit,” “The Grey,” “The Commuter” and, of course, two more “Taken” flicks just to name a few. Now at the age of 69, Neeson stars in yet another action film titled “Memory,” which is about an aging hitman struggling with the onset of dementia. Initially a discombobulated story, “Memory” remains at least interesting throughout simply to watch Neeson navigate his tough guy character through the struggles of a losing war against an unstoppable enemy.
A remake of the 2003 Belgian film “The Memory of a Killer,” “Memory” introduces us to hitman Alex Lewis (Neeson) when he eliminates one of the many targets of his career. Already forgetting small things, which forces him to write notes on his arm as reminders, Alex lets a colleague know that he wants out. Begrudgingly, he accepts a contract that takes him to El Paso, Texas. After he completes his first task, Alex refuses to proceed further when he discovers his second target is a young girl and that she is the victim of a sex trafficking ring. At this point, Alex decides to take justice into his own hands.
Meanwhile, an F.B.I. task force led by Special Agent Vincent Serra (Guy Pearce) is investigating a sex trafficking operation with the assistance of a law enforcement liaison from Mexico, Det. Hugo Marquez (Harold Torres). Serra’s investigation is upended when a sting goes wrong, but a series of killings by an unknown hitman causes his superior to force him to assist local law enforcement with the case. Somehow, Serra and his team are always one step behind Alex, a man you may recall who has dementia. Needless to say, the F.B.I. and police look like Keystone Cops at times. It all leads to a crescendo of violence and “ah-ha” moments that do not take your breath away.
Director Martin Campbell has a history of either making a hit (“Casino Royale”) or a dud (“Green Lantern”), and “Memory” is more on the dud side of the equation. The story is often like a bunch of jigsaw pieces that have been tossed up in the air, the pacing is all over the place, and more focus should have been placed on Neeson’s character. The script is so poor, that Pearce’s Serra and the other supporting F.B.I. characters are irritating distractions without much substance beyond cliches. James Bond alum Monica Bellucci has proven in the past to have the ability to chew up a scene with her skill, but her antagonist character is so badly developed that her performance is sadly underwhelming.
Overall, while Neeson has some good moments on the screen, “Memory” is a film that you may want to forget about after seeing.

Film Review: “The Innocents”


  • Starring: Rakel Lenora Flottum, Sam Ashraf
  • Directed by: Eskil Vogt
  • Rating: unrated
  • Running Time: 1 hr 57 mins
  • IFC Films
Once upon a time, there were a plethora of western movies and television shows. Now, decades later after their demise in popularity, the superhero genre has become its replacement. Most films involving people with incredible abilities are generally straightforward. However, there are those that attempt to take a different path. The M. Night Shyamalan trilogy – “Unbreakable,” “Split” and “Glass” – comes to mind or the 2012 film, “Chronicle.” The newest addition to the more offbeat stories involving comic book-like powers comes from Norway in the form of the sci-fi/thriller “The Innocents.” Written and directed by Norwegian filmmaker Eskil Vogt (“Thelma”), “The Innocents” is a spine-tingling, edge-of-your-seat story that lingers long after its final credits have ceased rolling.
“The Innocents” is set entirely in a Norwegian housing complex where nine-year-old Ida (Rakel Lenora Flottum), her nonverbal older sister, Anna (Alva Brynsmo Ramstad) and their parents have recently moved in to. Anna receives a lot of attention from their parents as she has a severe form of autism. This makes Ida jealous, which often causes her to do things that are petty and mean.
Ida soon befriends Ben (Sam Ashraf), a young boy about her age who transforms from being a lonely, sympathetic kid to a burgeoning sociopath who has no problems crushing an animal’s head while it’s still alive. Amid it all, Ben shows Ida his special talent – telekinesis. It starts off with being able to move a bottle cap, but the more he practices the more he can do with it.
Ben turns out to be not the only who has a gift when another little girl, Aisha (Mina Yasmin Brenseth Asheim) begins to play with Anna. The duo demonstrates some type of telepathy and when all four are together, their powers are enhanced. As Ben’s darker side grows, so does the suspense as he becomes increasingly challenged by the girls.
While “The Innocents” could be construed as an origin story, it’s more of a one-off tale with a simmering build-up of suspense with a pinch of horror tossed in for good measure. The four central characters are thrust into a world they don’t quite understand yet as they grasp the concepts of good versus evil. Vogt keeps us in the dark as to how the children got their powers in their first place, which is fine because no knowing is better than trying to be convinced it is the result of touching a weird, glowing crystal in a cave. Nor does Vogt overwhelm us with an overabundance of special effects. Instead, he lets his intelligent, breath-of-fresh-air story do the talking. All four young actors handle themselves well throughout the film, although none of their performances are particularly awe inspiring.
Overall, “The Innocents” is one of the best “superhero” films you can possibly see. Just be prepared to jump in your seat a couple of times and be ready to discuss it long afterwards.

4K Review: “Uncharted”


I’ve only excelled at two video games in my entire life: Virtua Fighter by PlayStation and any of the Gran Turismo games for the PS2. Yep, that’s it. That’s not to say that I’m bad at others, I can button mash with the best of them, but I’ve just never really been much of a gamer. Then again I’m sure I’m in the minority. I have, however, heard of the Uncharted game series with its titular star – Nathan Drake. And I suppose it was only a matter of time before some more video games make the leap to the big screen. This is nothing new, of course, we’ve had several video games turned movies with varying degrees of success. However the timing on this one was about as perfect as it could be. Coming off “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Tom Holland once again headlines this film. And hot on the heels of his MCU efforts certainly couldn’t hurt. But, this isn’t the MCU.  Can Holland work his magic as Nathan Drake or should he stick to web slinging?
Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) is a bartender in New York City. He’s also a petty thief. He gets a surprise visit from Victor Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg), a “professional” treasure hunter who claims to have known Nathan’s brother. Victor claims that the two were close to finding a stash of gold, potentially worth billions of dollars, that was lost by Magellan (yes, that one) nearly 500 years earlier. Victor wants Nathan to help him finish what they started, though doing this will require stopping Santiago Moncada (Antonio Banderas), a wealthy businessman looking for the same treasure. Of course, there has to be a woman in the mix and the duo meet up with Chloe Fraser (Sophia Ali), another person in search of the treasure who may or may not be trusted.

If movies like “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” ” The DaVinci Code” or “National Treasure” (a personal favorite of mine) are up your alley, then you’ll have a good time with “Uncharted.” I’ve always been curious what hidden treasures are out there just waiting for some key or other object to unlock the goods of the past. And this is where the film excels. If you can put aside most of the logic and have a good time with it, you will. But consider that this is based on a video game and you’ll have to get past the fact that neither Tom Holland nor Mark Wahlberg look a damn thing like their 64 bit counterparts. The only person who really seems to relish his role is Banderas and he doesn’t get enough screen time to make it worthwhile. You’ll know what you’re in for very quickly, so either go with it and have a good time or get ready to check your watch for the next 116 minutes. 


As anyone would expect, “Uncharted” certainly sparkles when it comes to how it’s presented on screen. The 2.39:1 AVC HD encode checks all the boxes with amazing contrast, sharp as a tack detail and a wonderful, yet earthy-toned, color palette. The 4K version, no doubt, looks a bit better with a wider color spectrum and the like. Still, it’s hard to fault the way this Blu-ray looks. I found really no evidence of anything I’d consider a flaw. And why should we? Sony consistently puts out some of the best-looking titles I’ve seen. (“Ghostbusters Afterlife” is another example) This is no exception.


It’s a bit of a shame when you have to pony up for the 4K disc to get a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. Well, you do. But that’s not to say that the included DTS HD Master Audio mix found on this Blu-ray is by any means bad. It’s not. In fact, I was pretty impressed. Given the genre of the film we can expect an active mix with surrounds adding a warm layer of ambiance through most of the scenes. Some scenes (the airplane one in particular) do engage all of your speakers resulting in a very aggressive and dynamic aural experience. Vocals, of course, are top notch.


Technically there’s nothing “wrong” with “Uncharted. ”  It delivers some moderately-entertaining action sequences and for those that like the globe-hopping type of adventure, we’ve got plenty of that. It just seems like so many other films that the video game aspect of it gets lost. Truthfully, it’s probably more fun to simply play the game than watch the film. That said, Sony’s disc looks and sounds good and we’ve got a modest sampling of supplements. So if this is your thing, you could do a lot worse.


Film Review 2: “Top Gun: Maverick”


  • Starring:  Tom Cruise, Miles Teller and Val Kilmer
  • Directed by:  Joseph Kosinski
  • Rated:  PG 13
  • Running time:  2 hrs 11 mins
  • Paramount


In April of 1986 I was in the movie theatre business.  I had begged the home office – and convinced them – to give me “Top Gun” as one of my summer pictures.  I displayed the posters and ran the trailers, listening to the audience’s excitement when the preview ended.  I was set.  Then, during the first week of May, our company Vice President visited me in my office.  To get the full picture in your head, I’ll preface his comments by letting you know that he sounded an awful bit like Fozzie Bear.  “Michael,” he said, “I’ve just come from seeing what will be the biggest film of the summer.”  “Top Gun,” I asked.  “No, “Cobra.”  You’ll play it for months!”  “So I’m playing “Cobra” AND “Top Gun?” – my theatre was a twin – “Top Gun”??  That won’t play through June.  Believe me, my friend, you want “Cobra.””  So I played “Cobra,” which fizzled out after 2 weeks.  The other theatre in the area got “Top Gun.”  It played through August!


As his jet rockets through the sky, Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Cruise)begins a difficult maneuver and, as he often does in these situations, quietly whispers “talk to me Goose.”   It’s something he’s done for the past three-plus decades and it’s always seemed to work.  Will it work this time?


Packed with wall -to-wall action, “Top Gun: Maverick” finds, well, Maverick, back as an instructor at the Fighter Pilot Training School, where he is asked to get 16 of the best pilots ready for a mission.  He balks at first at the assignment, stating his preference to be a part of the mission itself, but is told in no uncertain terms by his commander (Jon Hamm) that he’s just there to train and evaluate.  However, things get a little more difficult when he learns that one of the students, call sign Rooster (Teller), is the son of Maverick’s late friend Goose, a young man who blames Maverick for many things, including, of course, the death of his father.  Can you say tension?

It has been 36-years since “Top Gun” hit theatres, and I’ll have to admit that I was a little wary when I heard they were making a sequel.  Anticipation grew as COVID delayed the film’s release – originally scheduled for May 2019 – for almost two years.  Let me just say, it was well worth the wait.  Combining several familiar themes from the first film, with an amazing amount of aerial action, “Top Gun: Maverick” delivers the goods.  Cruise is his usual cocky self, and that self-assurance is multiplied several times by the assortment of hot shot pilots he is given to mentor.  Teller, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the young Goose, plays a young man who should be confident of his skills but isn’t, causing him to hesitate at times he shouldn’t.  Jennifer Connelly is Maverick’s love interest this time around, playing – if my memory serves me – the daughter of a former Admiral – a daughter that Maverick may or may not have taken advantage of.  Jon Hamm and Ed Harris are well cast as the authority figures that just don’t seem to understand Maverick’s ways and it’s a genuine treat to see Val Kilmer back on the big screen.    Director Kosinski keeps the film moving at a rapid pace, while the aerial action is downright dizzying.


The film is lovingly dedicated to the late Tony Scott, who directed “Top Gun.”  I’d like to think that he would give a thumbs up and a salute to “Top Gun: Maverick.”

Film Review “The Bob’s Burgers Movie”

Directed by: Loren Bouchard, Bernard Derriman
Starring: H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, Larry Murphy, John Roberts, Kristen Schaal
Distributed by: 20th Century Studios
Release date: May 27, 2022
Running time: 102 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

It’s crazy to this that “Bob’s Burgers” has been on the air is 2011. 11 years this show has been on Fox spanning 12 seasons and over 230 episodes. If you haven’t watched this show, I highly recommend it. It is one of those shows that you will watch and not want to miss a single line of dialogue because literally each word is gold! “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” works as a long episode of the show and delivers some great laughs. I got to admit, I was nervous if the show would hold up as a feature length film but the jokes don’t get tired and the musical acts in the film carry along everything together.

Official Premise: A ruptured water main creates an enormous sinkhole right in front of Bob’s Burgers, blocking the entrance indefinitely and ruining the Belchers’ plans for a successful summer. While Bob and Linda struggle to keep the business afloat, the kids try to solve a mystery that could save their family’s restaurant. As the dangers mount, these underdogs help each other find hope as they try to get back behind the counter.

If you are wondering how can I see “The Bob’s Burgers Movie” if I have never seen “Bob’s Burgers” the TV show, well you definitely can that’s for sure. My wife came along to the screening, who has many seen a few clips of the show and had an excellent time throughout laughing and enjoying this movie. Also all the original cast is back for the movie, which is great because they all crack me up. If you are looking for something alternative to see this summer, this film is a great option since it is fairly family friendly and packs some fun songs and non-stop jokes.

Film Review “Top Gun: Maverick”

Director: Joseph Kosinski
Cast: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Charles Parnell, Bashir Salahuddin, Monica Barbaro, Jay Ellis, Danny Ramirez, Greg Tarzan Davis with Ed Harris
Paramount Pictures
Release Date: May 27, 2022
Running time: 131 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Top Gun” is one of the essentially movies to watch of the 80’s. I have seen it MANY times and even on 3D Blu-ray, which is an incredible way to view it. So here we are 36 years later and we have “Top Gun: Maverick”. You got to be a little nervous revisiting such an important film as this but this sequel stands up on its on and even surpasses the first film in some areas. “Top Gun: Maverick” also packs a punch of nostalgia and is surprising funny…I mean like belly laughing funny. This was a pleasant surprise as well. The most shocking factor of this sequel is the fact that Tom Cruise hasn’t aged in the last 36 years and delivers one of his best performances. I see this film having a very healthy run at the box office. A must see for sure this summer season!

Before we get too deep into the movie, I need to provide y’all with three important reasons to experience this film in IMAX!!! The first reason is an easy one…with IMAX you get to experience 26% more picture that in standard theaters. A lot of films these days are shooting with these specific IMAX cameras and it’s no joke you get to see more of the movie, so it’s a no brainer. Second, is that you literally fear the roar with IMAX sound. The sound easily rumbled the entire theater. The last one I didn’t know till after I saw the film, which is that there was six IMAX cameras located in each of the cockpits. This was why the aerial shots were so stunning and heart-pounding for sure.

Official Premise: After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. When he finds himself training a detachment of TOPGUN graduates for a specialized mission the likes of which no living pilot has ever seen, Maverick encounters Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), call sign: “Rooster,” the son of Maverick’s late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka “Goose”. Facing an uncertain future and confronting the ghosts of his past, Maverick is drawn into a confrontation with his own deepest fears, culminating in a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those who will be chosen to fly it.

I have to give Jennifer Connelly props for nearly taking my breath away…she looks stunning in this movie (and she is another one that doesn’t age). Her and Cruise have great chemistry and I loved their love storyline that they had together. It was cool getting to see Val Kilmer show up again as Ice Man. The aerial scenes were absolutely stunning, like I mentioned above about the sound, the seats were literally shaking in the theater. I don’t know how Tom Cruise continues to out due himself with these films but the guy is a legend and literally wins you over even if your not a fan. Looking forward to a second viewing of this film because I feel like there is so much happening that you could benefit from multiple viewings.

Film Review: “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” – REVIEW 2


  • Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olson
  • Directed by: Sam Raimi
  • Ratied: PG-13
  • Running Time: 2 hrs 6 mins
  • Walt Disney Studios
Second only to the Oscar-nominated “Black Panther” of 2018, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is the best Marvel film to be released to date. Having made over $230 million domestically in its first seven days of release (Box Office Mojo), the Sam Raimi-helmed story about everyone’s favorite doctor of mystical arts is a visual spectacular with plenty of excitement, great acting, and a complicated story that demands your full attention. It is nothing short of marvelous and easily the finest since “Avengers: End Game.”
(For those who have yet to see the newest “Doctor Strange” don’t worry, you won’t find any spoilers here.) We are instantly thrust to a weird place in between universes where a pony-tailed version of Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and a teenager named America Chavez (Xochitil Gomez) are chased by a demon as they try to reach a powerful spell book. The incredible situation goes from bad to worse before America, who has the ability to travel across the multiverse, ends up in “our” universe where she is saved by Strange and Sorcerer Supreme Wong (Benedict Wong).
After realizing there were witchcraft runes on the demon that chased America, Stephen finds Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olson) to request her help. He soon discovers, though, that what transpired during the events of “WandaVision” have left Wanda psychologically imbalanced. In fact, she reveals her full embracement of her dark alter ego – The Scarlet Witch. She demands Stephen turn America over to her so she can be with her children in an alternate universe. This leads to an epic magical showdown at Kamar-Taj from which Stephen and America flee across the multiverse to another Earth that is governed by a powerful group named the Illuminati.
Stephen does not receive a warm welcome from the Illuminati council despite his grave warnings about the impending arrival of the Scarlet Witch. Ultimately, he must rely upon his ex-romantic partner Dr. Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams), who on this version of Earth is an expert on the multi-verse, to help him and America defeat the increasingly unhinged Scarlet Witch.
Cumberbatch gets to explore many more facets of a character who when first introduced to us was an egotistical narcissist on the same level as Tony Stark. However, Stephen grows significantly in this newest story and becomes a hero that can be fully embraced and understood. (A stark contrast to Peter Parker who never seems to mature past be a mistake prone, bumbling stumbling man child.) Stephen Strange may still have elements of over-confidence, but with Cumberbatch’s undeniable skill and some solid writing, he becomes fully developed hero in this second film devoted to the Master of Mystic Arts.
“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” easily has some of the best eye candy of the entire Marvel collection with dazzling special effects and colorful imagery. It is also has some moments of brutal violence, hence the PG-13 rating, as it alternates between dark moments of despair and flashes of levity that we have come to expect in all of the Marvel flicks. The assembled cast is nothing less than fantastic with particularly stand-out supporting performances from Olson and McAdams.
In the end, “Doctor Strange and Multiverse of Madness” is the best entertainment you will find currently at any cinema.

Panic Fest Film Review: “Watcher”

Starring: Maika Monroe, Karl Glusman and Burn Gorman
Directed by: Chloe Okuno
Rated: R
Running Time: 91 minutes

During “Watcher,” I was reminded of a scene from the first season of “Master of None.” It shows the carefree nature of a man walking home from a night of drinking, as he giggles and dances sloppily on his way home. The flipside, which we see, is a woman, walking home, after that same night of drinking with the man, petrified because she can hear footsteps behind her. Instead of a joyous walk home, she speed walks without revealing to her potential captor that she knows she’s being followed. “Watcher” doesn’t take place in one night nor is the fear immediate, it creeps in over an hour and a half as we watch Julia (Monroe) sense and fight back against someone who may or may not be watching her from afar.

Julia, an American, starts out of her element. She’s in Romania’s capital, supporting her boyfriend who’s so busy at work, he hardly has time to see her, much less show up for dinner on time. Julia spends her days walking about town, having trouble communicating since she doesn’t speak Romanian, and wondering what is happening across the street. At night, she stares out her window and sees the lives of others, whether they’re at the dinner table, in front of a TV, or staring right back at her. She knows he’s there, even when she can’t see him. Her boyfriend shrugs it off, becoming more concerned about her mental health and damn near everyone around her seems content on brushing things off even as a serial killer stalks the streets as evident by his murders being details on the news.

The “Watcher” is a slow-burn, as it lets Julia and the audience settle into Eastern Europe, without ever making us feel fully comfortable with some affective jump scares and lingering shots that have us holding our breath. The influences are clear for this film as director/writer Okuno utilizes elements from films, like “Rear Window,” but I’m a little disappointed she never twisted any of those elements in an attempt to modernize or fool the audience. While “Watcher” is a great thriller homage that taps deeply into paranoia, it never quite does anything unique that makes it stand out as an instant classic, even though it’s shot and feels like it should be one.

Panic Fest Film Review: “The Chamber of Terror”

Starring: Timothy Paul McCarthy, Jessica Vano and Ry Barrett
Directed by: Michael Pereira
Rated: NR
Running Time: 93 minutes

In the opening moments of “The Chamber of Terror” we meet Nash Caruthers (McCarthy), a deep-voiced renegade. He’s sealing up a member of the Ackerman crime family alive in a coffin, making short grandiose statements about his personal revenge. The audience knows nothing about any of this and yet the movie continues to chug along. We flash forward a month later where Caruthers finds himself in the Ackerman family’s underground torture dungeon where revenge meets revenge, as well as the paranormal.

Any more info would ruin “The Chamber of Terror” even though I’ll admit the first 10 minutes of the film had me wondering if I had made a mistake hitting the play button, but thankfully this is all a part of writer/director Pereira’s plan. I would implore you not to turn it off even though that opening feels like a film school student who watched “Boondock Saints” way too much. Thank God I don’t rely on my gut instincts that much or else I would have missed out on the best low budget gorefest I’ve seen in years. And by low-budget, I mean that they probably spent the majority of their budget on every exploding head, blood geyser and chunky internal organs littered across this film.

As the movie progresses, the plot gets sillier and more intricate, with characters gradually breaking the fourth wall as if they realize they’re in some kind of film worthy of an 80s Saturday night on a UHF channel. Caruthers delivers most of the silliness, fighting back against his captors in bizarre ways and delivering phony lines that even Bruce Campbell would struggle saying with a straight face. It’s a difficult film to describe because its only inherent purpose is to introduce outlandish characters and watch them interact in a blood-soaked sandbox.

“WolfCop,” another Panic Fest film that has made the rounds for its comedic approach to insane ideas, is referenced early on in the film. If you’ve seen “WolfCop,” then you know what kind of film you’re in for and if not, don’t take your love of horror too seriously, or even “Chamber of Terror” for that matter. While “The Chamber of Terror” sounds like a bad haunted house attraction in a shopping mall, the film itself is a confidently directed horror comedy that gets more ridiculous and bloody as the film goes on. By the end, you hope that Caruthers winds up in another misadventure.

Film Review: “The Northman”


Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Anna Taylor-Joy
Directed by: Robert Eggers
Rated: R
Running Time: 2 hrs 17 mins
Focus Features

If you have not seen the Viking action/drama “The Northman” yet, then you are missing out on a classic work of historical fiction by director Robert Eggers (“The Lighthouse,” “The Witch”). Headlined by a superb performance from Alexander Skarsgard, “The Northman” is based upon a Scandinavian folktale written by Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus (c. 1150-c. 1220), which served to later influence William Shakespeare’s writing of “Hamlet.” Eggers’s glorious cinematic take on the ancient story of Amleth is violent to the core with an emphasis on historical detail and Viking mythology.

The story, which is a tad slow occasionally, begins in the year AD 895 when King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke) returns to his island kingdom of Hrafnsey. A celebration, organized by his wife, Queen Gudrun (Nicole Kidman) is held to honor his triumphant return. However, King Aurvandil, who bears a terrible wound, refrains from too much revelry as he is focused on preparing young Amleth to be his successor. As such, they participate in an ancient ritual overseen by the king’s jester, Heimir the Fool (Willem Dafoe).

During the morning after the king’s return, he is betrayed by his brother, Fjolnir the Brotherless (Claes Bang, “The Square”) and Amleth must flee the island to stay alive, but not before he vows repeatedly to get his revenge. This fire within serves him well as he is taken in by Vikings who raise him as a berserker. During one of their forays into the lands of the Rus people, which encompasses parts of modern-day Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, Amleth (Skarsgard) learns that his uncle was overthrown by King Harald of Norway and lives in banishment in Iceland.

Seizing the opportunity to get his vengeance and rescue his mother, Amleth disguises himself as a slave before slipping onto a ship bound for Iceland. It is during the voyage that he meets a Slavic slave named Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy, “The Queen’s Gambit,” “The Witch”) who claims she is a sorceress, something she proves later. A connection develops between them as Amleth bides his time while continuing his ruse under his uncle’s nose.

Skarsgard, a native of Sweden who had long wanted to do a film about Vikings, is a powerful, physically imposing presence on the screen. He makes Thor the God of Thunder look weak and insignificant and could have possibly been a better choice for that role as he immerses himself into Amleth as seamlessly as Daniel Day Lewis on his best day. The one quibble with his performance is that sometimes it is a little difficult to understand his dialogue.

While Hawke is delightful in his role, his performance is all too brief, and it feels like he was underused. Kidman enjoys a little more screentime, but her presence is overshadowed by Taylor-Joy’s who is enchanting. While Olga may have some magical abilities, Taylor-Joy doesn’t let it be the defining characteristic of her pivotal role.

Eggers’s work is genuine homage to Viking culture and lore without losing itself in special effects-generated magic. Sure, you can sense a pinch of “Conan the Barbarian” and even “Lord of the Rings” in parts of “The Northman,” but in the end it remains true to itself and retains its own special identity.

Panic Fest Film Review: “CRABS!”

Starring: Kurt Carley, Robert Craighead and Bryce Durfee
Directed by: Pierce Berolzheimer
Rated: NR
Running Time: 80 minutes

Sometimes it’s difficult to type or relay articulate thoughts with intentionally silly movies. CRABS! is the kind of film that I could easily just type, “Turn your brain off, pop an edible or get some beers, and enjoy the schlocky magic.” However, I can’t because you’re expecting an actual critique. All I can say in my opening paragraph is if my simplistic line above about the movie isn’t something that is in your own wheelhouse of pop-culture entertainment, just go-ahead and know you won’t like this movie.

For the rest of us though…CRABS! is a melting pot of Ed Wood and Japanese Kaiju monsters, with sprinklings of Gremlins, Tremors and CGI that might break Asylum films budget. CRABS! let’s you know immediately what kind of film you’re in for as the opening sequences are as follows: a crab makes cutesie noises as a nuclear power plant explodes, a young couple is having sex vigorously on the beach in broad daylight, a crab (potentially the one that got a front row seat to radioactivity) comes up to the couple only to kill the horny lovers. Once again, if your funny bone isn’t tickled before the title credits, then you won’t like the rest of the film.

CRABS! has an eclectic cast, featuring a boy in a wheelchair looking to create robotic legs, his girlfriend and her thirsty mom who teaches at the high school in town (she acts equally flirty and airheaded with the men and students in town), a foreign exchange student who is given the most ludicrous dialogue to say with his ridiculous accent, and a Sheriff’s Department that’s only made up of two men; both who really enjoy smoking pot. The plot, which there actually is one, is nonsense and almost unnecessary. Even a hint of scrutiny would make the plot crumble like a house of cards in a windstorm. Yet again, it’s definitely the kind of film that fits the phrase, “leave your brain at the door.”

However, even though the film wears its influences on its sleeve like a soldier being pinned with badges of honor, CRABS! really doesn’t offer anything new or different to a genre that’s ever changing and evolving. While it is an enjoyable trip, it’s not a film that’ll stick with you for years or even be begging for a rewatch; I’m not even sure if an unnecessary sequel is in the future for this film. “CRABS!” is intentionally terrible, and as long you understand that you might have a lot of fun with it.


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