Film Review – “The Post”

 

 

 

THE POST
Starring:  Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks and Bob Odenkirk
Directed by:  Steven Spielberg
Rated:  PG 13
Running time:  1 hr 56 mins
20th Century Fox

 

They were called The Pentagon Papers, an analysis of the almost 30-year history of the United States’ involvement in Vietnam which did not paint a rosy picture for a war that would eventually take the lives of nearly 60,000 Americans.  Their impact, not only on how the war was perceived but in how the press was regarded, is the story of Steven Spielberg’s latest film, “The Post.”

Passengers on a government jet observe a young man chatting with current Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood). “Who’s that,” someone asks, unaware that the subject of his question will one day set in motion a series of events that, in today’s cycle of “fake news,” will open eyes to the power of the press.  The young man in question is Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys).  Unhappy with what he has observed and been told, the military analyst leaks a series of reports commissioned by the Rand Corporation to the New York Times, which in 1971 begins to publish excerpts.  Outraged by this, President Nixon orders government attorneys to file a suit forcing the paper to stop publishing the papers in the interest of national security.

In Washington D.C., Ben Bradlee (Hanks), editor of The Washington Post, is upset.  Once again, the Times has scooped him.  This is such a common occurrence that Bradlee brandishes a copy of the Times and asks his reporters “anyone else tired of reading the news?”  The Post is owned by Katherine Graham (Streep), a D.C. socialite whose grandfather had owned the Post and who inherited the publisher’s mantle when her husband, Phillip, committed suicide.  She is wary of Bradlee’s plans.  Not only is there a chance that publishing the information will put her in jail – “Wouldn’t you go to prison to stop this war,” Bradlee asks – but she also risks alienating some of her closest friends, including Bob McNamara.  Decisions, decisions.

A film that packs a powerful punch, “The Post” joins “All the President’s Men” and “Spotlight” as films that show the true power of the press in the face of adversity.  Hanks has fun as the tough but compassionate Bradlee and Streep adds another outstanding performance to her already amazing resume’.  The supporting cast is just as strong, with fine turns by Odenkirk, Carrie Coon, Sarah Paulson, Jesse Plemons and Tracy Letts.  Even Richard Milhouse Nixon gets raves as the evil Wizard who thinks he can rule the Emerald City, and this country, anyway he deems fit.  Rather than employ an actor to portray our 37th President, Spielberg uses Nixon’s actual words and voice, through taped telephone conversations, to show what a devious and paranoid man the President was.

Spielberg keeps the story moving and, as with all of his films, the technical aspects are first rate.  And add another magnificent John Williams score to perfectly accompany the story.

Film Review – “Molly’s Game”

 

 

MOLLY’S GAME

Starring:  Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba and Kevin Costner

Directed by:  Aaron Sorkin

Rated:  R

Running time:  2 hrs 20 mins

STX Entertainment

 

 

Did you ever have friends over to your house for a night of poker?  This was a regular thing in my life from the mid-1980s through 1995.  Those of us who worked until midnight would get together after work a spend hours eating pizza, drinking Coke out of the little bottles (none of that NEW Coke for us) and playing games like Follow the Queen or Sh*t or Get Off the Pot.  Our highest bet allowed was $5.00.  I mention this only because Molly Bloom did the same thing we did, only her stakes were much higher.

 

Molly (Chastain) was a one time Olympic hopeful whose injuries took her from the ski slopes to a would-be journey to law school.  However, before she can crack the books she takes a job with real estate agent Dean Keith (Jeremy Strong), a bossy type who runs her ragged as his assistant.  One day she is given the phone numbers of (9) people and told to invite them to a high stakes poker game he is hosting.  Molly is put in charge of the buy in money and at the end of the night ends up with $3,000 in tips.  A fast learner, she soon begins to run her own game, rubbing shoulders with some of the most renowned actors, athletes and politicians in California.  When she moves to New York she again hosts games.  Things go well until she is arrested by the FBI for her actions.  What are the odds Molly beats the rap?

 

The first film to be directed by Academy Award winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (he also adapted the script from the real Molly Bloom’s book), “Molly’s Game” is a smart tale about how even the slightest mistake can come back to haunt you.  The cast is first-rate, with both Chastain and Elba, who plays Bloom’s attorney, Charles Jaffe, giving award-worthy performances.  The supporting cast is equally strong, including Michael Cera, identified simply as Player X, and Costner, who plays Molly’s hard-pushing father.  The film even serves as a “Dances With Wolves” reunion, with Graham Greene playing the judge who hears Molly’s case.

 

The script is pure Sorkin, which is always a good thing.  His work behind the camera is equally well done.  All in all, “Molly’s Game” is a fine inaugural effort from a budding new filmmaker.

Film Review: “All the Money in the World”

 

ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD

Starring:  Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg and Christopher Plummer

Directed by:  Ridley Scott

Rated:  PG 13

Running time:  2 hrs 12 mins

Sony Pictures

 

 

J. Paul Getty was a son of a bitch.

 

The first person in the WORLD to accumulate a fortune worth one BILLION dollars, he was a hard-driven man who had no time for family.  So when his assistant announces that the police are on the phone because his grandson has been kidnapped, it’s no surprise when he instructs her to tell them that he is “not available.”  Thanks grandpa!

 

Based on a true story (one I clearly remember from my youth), “All the Money in the World” is a tale that lives up to the old saying that “money can’t buy everything.”  We meet 16 year-old Paul Getty (Charlie Plummer, no relationship to Christopher) as he prowls around the red light area of Rome.  Clearly under-age he is scolded by the women he approaches and walks along the road.  Suddenly a van pulls up and Paul is swept inside and quickly blindfolded.  He is secluded out in the country and his mother Gail (an always great Michelle Williams) is contacted.  The kidnappers want $17 million for Paul’s return.  They are unaware that, like the majority of the Getty heirs, she has no money.  She turns to the boy’s grandfather (Christopher Plummer) for help.  He gives her his answer when he is asked by a reporter how much he would pay to rescue his grandson – “Nothing.”

 

This film has gained some extra notoriety due to the fact that Kevin Spacey had originally been hired to play J. Paul Getty and that, in fact, the film was finished when news of Spacey’s alleged misdeeds was made public.  In an unprecedented move, director Ridley Scott chose to replace Spacey with Christopher Plummer and reshoot every scene that had once featured Spacey.  In six weeks’ time he managed to gather the entire cast and crew and pulled off a cinematic miracle by meeting the film’s original release date.  And what an amazing cast.

 

Williams, who was heartbreaking in last year’s “Manchester by the Sea,” is the tough, no nonsense mother who puts her son first in every decision.  She is cool and collected even when we, the audience, would be inconsolable.  Wahlberg is a former CIA operative who now runs Getty’s personal security.  He does his best, at Getty’s request, to negotiate with the kidnappers but finds little luck.  But the film rightly belongs to Christopher Plummer.  You can still watch the original trailer for “All the Money in the World” on YouTube, and you’ll come away with the feeling that Spacey would have given a strong performance.  But here Plummer is more than strong.  He’s brilliant.  He’s taken a character that the audience should hate and somehow makes his actions seem sensible, no matter how little.  Also, J. Paul Getty was 80 years old when Paul was kidnapped.  Spacey is 58 and required a lot of make-up.  Christopher Plummer is 88 and every year is ingrained on his still handsome face.  He recently received a Golden Globe Award nomination for his performance here and I wouldn’t be surprised if that is soon followed by his third Academy Award nod (he won an Oscar in 2012).

 

Director Scott keeps the story moving and the technical aspects, from art direction to photography, are well deserving of praise.  This is an amazing piece of filmmaking, made more so by the quirky back story, and is easily one of the best films of the year!

GET OUT and CALL ME BY YOUR NAME Dominate the Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards

 

GET OUT, writer/director Jordan Peele’s darkly funny horror film and CALL ME BY YOUR NAME, the story of a young boy who meets a visiting American while on vacation with his family, took home the lion’s share of prizes as the Kansas City Film Critics Circle handed out their 52nd Annual James Loutzenhizer Awards for the best in film for 2017.  Media Mikes writers Mike Smith and Jeremy Werner are members of the group.
GET OUT took home the prize as the Best Film of 2017.  In addition, Jordan Peele won for his Original Screenplay and the film was also named the winner of the Vince Koehler Award as the year’s best Science Fiction/Horror/Fantasy film.
CALL ME BY YOUR NAME earned recognition for Timothée Chalamet, who was named Best Actor as well as for it’s Adapted Screenplay, written by James Ivory (based on the novel by Andre Aciman).  The film also received the groups Dr. Tom Poe Award as the year’s best LBGT film.  The film shared the Adapted Screenplay award with LOGAN, written by Scott Frank, Michael Green and James Mangold, based on the popular Marvel Comics character.
Guillermo del Toro was named winner of the Robert Altman Award as the year’s Best Director for THE SHAPE OF WATER,  which also won the Best Actress award for Sally Hawkins.
The Kansas City Film Critics Circle is the second oldest film critics group in the country, founded in 1967 by Dr. James Loutzenhizer.  The group’s annual awards were named for Dr. Loutzenhizer after his passing in November 2001.
Here is a complete list of winners:
BEST FILM –  GET OUT
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR – Guillermo det Toro, THE SHAPE OF WATER
BEST ACTOR –    Timothée Chalamet – CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR –  Willem Dafoe – THE FLORIDA PROJECT
BEST ACTRESS –  Sally Hawkins – THE SHAPE OF WATER
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Laurie Metcalf – LADY BIRD
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY –  Jordan Peele – GET OUT
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY –  James Ivory – CALL ME BY YOUR NAME/Scott Frank, Michael Green and James Mangold – LOGAN
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE –  COCO
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM –  IN THE FADE (Germany)
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE –  JANE
VINCE KOEHLER AWARD –  GET OUT
DR. TOM POE AWARD –  CALL ME BY YOUR NAME

Film Review – “Star Wars – Episode VIII: The Last Jedi”

 

STAR WARS – EPISODE VIII: THE LAST JEDI

Starring:  Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley and Carrie Fisher

Directed by:  Rian Johnson

Rated:  PG 13

Running time:  2 hrs  32 mins

Walt Disney Pictures

Has it really been 40 years since the world was first introduced to the young dreamer Luke Skywalker?  It has.  Heck, if you don’t count the brief appearances in Episodes III (as a newborn baby) and VII (the last moment of the film), it’s been 34 years since Luke has been on the big screen.  But those numbers are in the past as the Jedi master finally returns in the eighth chapter of the original saga, “The Last Jedi.”

The film begins where “The Force Awakens” left off.  We are there as the galaxy’s newest hero, Rey (Ridley) finally tracks down Skywalker (Hamill) and hands him his old lightsaber.  His reaction is not what she expects.  Meanwhile, the first order, led by General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), both of who are under the power of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) have closed in on the Resistance, led by General Leia Organa (Fisher, in her final screen role).  As things begin to go from bad to worse, Leia reluctantly begins to trust in the leadership and ideals of ace pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) who in turn butts heads with Vice-Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern).  Can everyone agree on the right path to take or will evil finally win?

With a script by director Johnson, “The Last Jedi” is a mash-up of many different stories, but all with the same main plot line; good versus evil.  As Rey tries her best to convince Luke to return with her to help the Resistance, he gives her many reasons why he should not.  Among them is the guilt he feels over how his one time student, Ben Solo – his nephew – has transformed himself into the evil Kylo Ren.  In another part of the galaxy, we discover Finn (John Boyega) on an adventure of his own, one in which he meets the funny and resourceful Rose (a much welcome Kelly Marie Tran).  Rose is one of the many new faces that dot the screen, along with Dern and a wiley Benicio Del Toro.  But don’t despair, there are a few old faces that pop us as well.

The cast here is strong, with Hamill’s performance quite powerful.  He’s lived with this character for four decades and it’s obvious he’s invested heavily into it emotionally.  Driver, who came off as a little whiny in “The Force Awakens,” is much stronger here, a sign he has gotten comfortable with the character and its place in the story.  Sadly, this is Carrie Fisher’s last performance as Leia Organa, and the film is dedicated to her.  It’s apparent to me that Princess Leia would have been an integral part of Episode IX and I’m curious as to how they will handle her absence.  And if you’re looking for “cute,” not only is fan favorite droid BB-8 back but we also meet a creature known as a Porg, a puffin-like creature that makes the Ewoks from “Return of the Jedi” look like slugs!

To share anymore would necessitate the use of the words SPOILER ALERT and I would rather share less than more.  And with a 2 ½ hour run time, there is plenty I could spill.  But I would rather be dropped into a Sarlac pit then ruin your journey back to the galaxy far, far away.  May the Force be with you!

How Bad the Weinstein Scandal Is for the Film Industry

This year’s most resounding scandal was surely the one involving movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and his misconduct and inappropriate behavior (and we’ve been mild) that went on for years after years. Since the Weinstein scandal first broke out, numerous other filmmakers, actors, directors, and producers were accused of similar behavior. It is laudable for the victims of all this abuse to finally find the courage and strength to speak up and unveil the practices that have been going on for far too long in the film industry. Unfortunately, though, films – and viewers – are also hurt by the fallout of these scandals. The effects are already felt – fans have bashed Warner Bros. for not reshooting Johnny Depp’s scenes in “Fantastic Beasts 2”, for example. And it will likely also hurt some of the 10 movies to look out for in 2018.

One of the movies that have already felt the effects of the Weinstein scandal is “The Current War”, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon. Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, this Weinstein Company production has been delayed – it was originally set to be released this November but thanks to the scandal, its worldwide release date was postponed for an unspecified date in 2018. “Hotel Mumbai”, starring Dev Patel and Armie Hammer, has been presented this year to the audiences at the Berlinale and was also set to be released this year. Now it is also delayed until next year – the date has not been revealed just yet. Other Weinstein productions, like “The Man With the Iron Heart”, “Mary Magdalene”, “The Upside”, and “Paddington 2” might also feel the effects of the scandal.

Actors – and, indirectly, the movies they play in – are also affected by the Weinstein ripple effect. Among them, we find stars like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, the above-mentioned Johnny Depp, comedian Louis C.K, whose movie “I Love You Daddy” was canceled, and the list will likely grow further as time passes. At the same time, disturbing news about many more celebrities have seen the light of day. Pixar head John Lasseter has taken a leave of absence as a result of his past “missteps” and “painful” conversations. TV host Ryan Seacrest has been accused of misconduct. Actor/director Sylvester Stallone, One Tree Hill creator and showrunner Mark Schwahn, actors Tom Sizemore and Richard Dreyfuss, actor George Takei, producer Andrew Kreisberg, producer Gary Goddard, actors Steven Seagal, Jeffrey Tambor, Dustin Hoffman, producer and director Brett Ratner, and a whole list of other personalities from film, TV, radio, politics, and business have been accused of behaving in an inappropriate way at various times. And how all these will affect the film industry – and the others – is yet to be seen.

Film Review “Happy Death Day”

Directed by: Christopher B. Landon
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews, Charles Aitken
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 96 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I was simply sold on “Happy Death Day” from the moment I heard it pitched as “Groundhog Dog” but horror film. Sign me up! So instead of meeting ole Punxsutawney Phil and seeing if he sees his shadow every day. Our heroine, Tree (Jessica Rothe), as she wakes up to birthday only to gets killed and wakes up and repeats the same day over and over.

While she is trying to find out who the killer is the film looses so steam as the false alarms because a little predictable but overall. It was still fun to see how each day would be different. Even though not horror, this reminded me of the action-comedy “Edge of Tomorrow”, which also had that “Groundhog Day” feel. “Happy Death Day” even though rated PG-13 packs pretty creative kills during each repeated day.

2017 has been the year of Woman power with breakout films like, “Wonder Woman” and this film fit the mold nicely, it features a strong lead female character that can kick some serious ass. This film is a fun blend of horror with some great comedic moments mixed in. Definitely a lot of fun and got some great laughs in the audience, so it was definitely pleasing everyone.

If you are not familiar with the lead actress, Jessica Rothe, it is not surprising because she is only just getting started after a very small role in last year’s “La La Land”. What interesting is that out of all the anxilary extra characters in that film she honestly stood out to me, so I am excited that hopefully this film will be her big break.

Based on the audience reaction in the theater, I have a feeling that this film will end up connecting with an audience. If so, I can see this being a new franchise of sorts, definitely a lot of fun options. So those looking for some mindless fun and not excited for yet another “Saw” entry, I would definitely give “Happy Death Day” a shot!

Film Review: “IT”

Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Sophia Lillis and Bill Skarsgard
Directed by: Andy Muschietti
Rated: R
Running time: 2 hrs 15 mins
New Line Cinema

Why do I hate clowns?

Could it be because one Saturday night, while eating dinner alone at a Pizza Hut, the evening entertainment was a clown? Asking if there was “anything else” she could do for me, I told the waitress to “keep the clown away from me.” She must have said something to Bozo because, before I could finish my salad, this red-nosed freak stood next to my table and announced, very loudly, “Hey everybody….this guy doesn’t like clowns.” He then led the kids in the restaurant in booing me. Hell, who am I kidding, he got the parents to boo me too. When I left I told the waitress that I had left her a nice tip but that I had seen the clown take it off the table!

Could it be that quiet afternoon in 1991 when I was visited at the theatre I managed by three clowns, all in full regalia, who warned me that if I played the movie “Shakes the Clown” there “could be trouble?” I told them I could handle trouble, I just didn’t want any “drive by pie-ings.” They stared blankly at me.

Or it’s possible it’s because a woman I dated and gave almost five years of my life to liked clowns immensely and then ripped my heart out. Works for me. This hatred (read “fear”) of clowns led me to completely ignore the 1990 television production of “IT.” However, I did watch it recently to prepare me for the movie, thinking if I know what’s going to happen I won’t react to the new film. Wrong!

As summer begins in the town of Derry, Maine school ends. The town is dotted with all kinds of kids, but not enough that no one notices when one turns up missing. We quickly meet Bill Denbrough (Lieberher) and his little brother, Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott). Bill has made Georgie a paper boat to sail in the rain-swollen gutters outside. In order to make sure the boat will not sink, Bill sends Georgie to the cellar to get some wax to seal it. The cellar is a dark, foreboding place and Georgie hurries down and back in a flash. Pleased with himself, he soon finds himself chasing the boat down along the curb and watching it slide down into a storm drain. The boat is lost. Or is it? Georgie is surprised to be stared at by a pair of blood-shot eyes, attached to the white face of a friendly clown. Well, more like a non-friendly clown. One that likes to eat children!

Based on the popular novel by the master of horror himself, Stephen King, “IT” is a terrifying journey through childhood, one that doesn’t let the occasional “lost kid” go by unnoticed! A group of kids that calls themselves the Losers Club notice a lot. They are led by Bill, a slight boy with a stutter. The other members include Ben (Jeremy Ray Taylor), the fat kid; Beverly Marsh (Lillis), the girl with the bad reputation; Richie (Finn Wolfhard), the smart aleck; Mike (Chosen Jacobs), whose only apparent malady in this town is that he is black; Stanley (Wyatt Oleff), the Jewish kid and Eddie (Jack Dylan Grazer), the sickly one. Together these youngsters battle their childhood fears, a couple of JD thugs and a horrifying clown named Pennywise (Skarsgard) as they investigate the morbid history of Derry.

Why is this movie so damn scary? The cast. The filmmakers have assembled an amazing cast of young actors that perfectly fit each role. Each is pitch-perfect in his/her portrayal and you can’t help but see the film (and the horror in if) through their eyes. And Skarsgard is a revelation! With minimal dialogue and eyes that dart wildly, his Pennywise is up there with Hannibal Lecter and Heath Ledger’s Joker in the movie villain Hall of Fame. A warning to those who only remember the television production: this is a violent film. Very dark for a King adaptation, though I’ve been warned that the novel, which I may or may not attempt to read, is even darker. And that’s no joke!

Giveaway Opp: “9/11” Film Charlie Sheen Autographed Poster and Gift Pack


Media Mikes would like to introduce you to an awe-inspiring film starring Charlie Sheen and Whoopi Goldberg titled 9/11, based on the original play, The Elevator, that centers on the events of September 11, 2001.

No matter who you are or where you were, that moment and the aftermath is indelibly etched in everyone’s mind. The film 9/11 is based on a true story and chronicles the lives of five average, everyday people who find themselves trapped in an elevator during the events of 9/11 in the World Trade Center.

Media Mikes would like to give our fans a chance to win an autographed poster by Charlie Sheen and a #Remember911 Gift Pack. Please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your 9/11 story. This giveaway will remain open until September 18th. This is open to our readers in Florida only unless you want to travel. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

The Prize Pack Contains:
1 – 9/11 poster Hand Signed Autographed by star Charlie Sheen
1 – “Hope” Pendant with necklace
1 – Guide to Talking To Your Children About 9/11 thanks to Tuesday’s Children

9/11 opens in theaters on September 8 and features an all star cast including Luis Guzman (The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3), Gina Gershon (Showgirls), Wood Harris (Justified), Jacqueline Bisset (Dancing on the Edge (BBC), Welcome to New York), Olga Fonda (The Vampire Diaries) and Bruce Davison (X-Men).

In the World Trade Center, a billionaire sits in his attorney’s office awaiting a divorce hearing against his wife. In a west side apartment, a bike messenger kisses his 5-year old daughter and sings her “Happy Birthday” before leaving for work. A maintenance man gets dispatched to help a tenant with his lock. In an upper east side apartment, a young model musters the courage to break up with her sugar daddy. As random as random can be, these individuals step into a crowded World Trade Center elevator.

Wrapped up in their own world, they all ride silently hearing only the sound of the elevator giving notice of each floor. When the elevator stops on the 34th floor, it empties leaving only these five behind. Moments later … their world changes as the collision of a jet into the North Tower incapacitates the elevator.

With no understanding of what has happened and is happening around them, these fives are forced to band together and fight against all odds to escape from the impending horrific collapse. During these critical minutes, a story of courage, faith, and the will to live unfolds.

Film Review “A Ghost Story”

Starring: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara
Director: David Lowery
Distributed by: A24
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 92 minutes

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

A24 has been releasing some very interesting films recently including this year alone with “Free Fire” and “It Comes At Night”. With a title like “A Ghost Story”, it definitely grabbed my interested…unfortunately not for long. Don’t get me wrong this is definitely a film that will stay with you for a bit. I can’t say that I hated it overall but damn was I bored at some points. I have a feeling this might be a film to benefit from multiple viewings but I don’t think that I could make it through a second time here. I mean there is a pie eating scene that lasts five minutes and I understand why its there but it is painful to get through….pretty much like the whole film.

Official Premise: Recently deceased, a white-sheeted ghost (Casey Affleck) returns to his suburban home to console his bereft wife (Rooney Mara), only to find that in his spectral state he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as the life he knew and the woman he loves slowly slip away. Increasingly unmoored, the ghost embarks on a cosmic journey through memory and history, confronting life’s ineffable questions and the enormity of existence. [A24]

The cast for “A Ghost Story” includes recent Oscar Winner Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. Funnily enough reuniting together again along with the director of this film after all working together on 2013’s “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”. Performances are good from Mara and the loss is definitely depicted well, almost too well. Please make sure you realize though, this is not a scary horror film at all. I see the aspect of horror but it is not the same. Deep is a word, I would use to describe the message in this film, much deeper than I usually like. So if you are interested in a different kind of ghost movie that has few words, very long scenes with sometimes little happening but leaves you thinking a bit afterwards you might then be interested in this.

Film Review “Atomic Blonde”

Directed by: David Leitch
Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy
Distributed by: Focus Features
Running time: 115 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

When I first heard about “Atomic Blonde”, I read the quote describing it as “John Wick” with a girl! And I said, “Sure, kickass!” Charlize Theron is nothing short of amazing and extremely bad-ass, continuing from her roles in “The Fate of the Furious” and “Mad Max: Fury Road”. She is just incredible. I did quite enjoy the 80’s music and the Germany setting during the fall of the Berlin Wall. Unfortunately this film doesn’t succeed like “John Wick” and has some great moments of action, but never goes all-in.

The film follows undercover MI6 agent, Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) as she is sent on a mission to Berlin to dig into a murder of a fellow agent while also trying to retrieve a highly wanted after list of double agents. Teaming up with a local agent in David Percival (James McAvoy) in Berlin as they struggle to find out who to trust and who is who they really say they are.

There was something about “John Wick” to me that just had that “their are no rules” feeling and this one felt much more by the book. I did read that Charlize Theron did most of the action herself and trained very hard for the role, so I really give her credit and I would love to be able to say that I liked it more.

There were some great standout scenes, one feeling like it was a one-shot room to room shootout. Very cool scene. Ending had some cool twists and turns, which is expected with a CIA/spy movie. Could this be a new franchise? It’s possible, I’m sure…I will hold out for a Atomic Blonde/John Wick crossover!

Film Review “Dunkirk”

Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Damien Bonnard and Mark Rylance
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hr 46 mins
Warner Bros

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Even though it was one of the most important events of World War II, the story has rarely been told. 400,000 soldiers trapped on a French beach in the early days of the war. That tale is now front and center in the latest film by Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk.”

June 1940. As the battle in France intensifies we happen upon a group of English soldiers. They walk quietly through the deserted streets, trying to avoid detection. Suddenly a shot rings out. Then many. They run for cover but to no avail. One manages to escape and joins others on the beach.

In England, the British Navy is requisitioning civilian watercraft to travel across the channel to help evacuate the troops. One of the boat owners, Mr. Dawson (Rylance) is readying his yacht with his son, Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) and Peter’s friend, George (Barry Keoghan). However, rather than turn his boat over, Mr. Dawson decides to push off and make the journey himself.

High above the Channel, a pilot (Tom Hardy) gathers with his squadron mates to begin a sortie to give cover to the evacuation. It’s a high risk game of distance, altitude and available fuel. The slightest miscalculation of any or all three can spell certain death.

Told as three separate stories (Mole, Sea and Air) in three different time narratives (from a week out to a day to an hour before) “Dunkirk” is more of a thriller than a full out war film. Director Nolan, who also wrote the script, weaves the three stories together seamlessly, giving each story ample time to develop. He also has filled the cast with young actors who do a good job in projecting the fear and anticipation that war can bring. Besides misters Whitehead, Bonnard, Glynn-Carney and Keoghan, I must add pop star Harry Styles to the list. Though not a large or showy role, it is an important one, and if he ever decides to give up music he has found another profession in which he can succeed. If I have one complaint about the acting it’s that Nolan has attracted such talents as Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and Tom Hardy but has put them in roles that don’t require a lot of acting. Both Rylance and Branagh have been recognized alongside a small group of actors as the best Britain has EVER produced and Hardy is always a treat to watch on screen. Would have loved to have seen them seriously chew some scenery.

The film is beautifully shot, and the musical score by Hans Zimmer accompanies the on-screen action perfectly. That being said, I expected a lot more action in what was being sold in the trailers as a “war film.” Why have 400,000 troops, a couple destroyers and a few squadrons of airplanes if you’re only going to use them sparingly? Anyone?

Film Review #2 “Despicable Me 3”

Directed by: Pierre Coffin, Kyle Balda
Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker
Distributed by Universal Pictures[2]
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 90 minutes

Mike G’s Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Illumination Entertainment really has a gold mine here with the “Despicable Me” franchise. It literally just prints its own money…but so far after three films and an even better spin-off, they are still great. Pixar’s movies cost near or above $200 million per film and don’t get me wrong they are good, at least they used to be, while Illumination knocks out films like this and “The Secret Lives of Pets” for just $80 million. These are quality films that are very entertaining, pack great voice casts and overall great movies. “Despicable Me 3” is a great addition to the series and is a step up from the second film.

Official Premise: The mischievous Minions hope that Gru will return to a life of crime after the new boss of the Anti-Villain League fires him. Instead, Gru decides to remain retired and travel to Freedonia to meet his long-lost twin brother for the first time. The reunited siblings soon find themselves in an uneasy alliance to take down the elusive Balthazar Bratt, a former 1980s child star who seeks revenge against the world.

Pharrell Williams steps up again and some great new songs for this film. I don’t think he replicated another “Happy” on this soundtrack but very fun music. In addition the film has a flood of 80’s theme of music that is very fun in this film ranging from a-ha to Madonna to Michael Jackson. Trey Parker, co-creator of “South Park” is a new addition to this cast and voices the role of villain Balthazar Bratt, a former child star who’s grown up to become obsessed with the character he played in the 80’s, Evil Bratt. Trey knocks it out of the park and steals the movie, no question. Also we get to meet Gru’s twin brother, Dru and he is another great addition to this sequel.

What I love most about this film is that it is has a nice balance. A nice balance of Gru, Lucy and the girls as well as the a fun backstory for Bratt and of course we get a good amount of those lovable Minions. If Illumination is reading, I am ready for a “Minions 2” BTW for sure next. Just love those guys (or whatever they are). I saw this with my five year old daughter and she simply had a blast. She was laughing throughout and even though some of the 80’s theme was obviously lost on her she enjoyed the balance of the characters and just had a great time watching this film. I really hope that Illumination continues down this trend and continues to deliver great animated films for the whole family!

Film Review “Cars 3”

Directed by: Brian Fee
Starring: Owen Wilson, Cristela Alonzo, Armie Hammer, Larry the Cable Guy, Nathan Fillion, Kerry Washington, Lea DeLaria, Cheech Marin, Michael Wallis, Paul Dooley
Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 109 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

After the second disaster of a film, the “Cars” franchise should have come to an end. The thing is that the “Cars” brand brings in billions in merchandise alone, so Disney is stupid not to keep the brand in people’s heads. Personally, I have never been a fan of either of the two previous films. The first was good, don’t get me wrong but it’s not a favorite when I think of great Pixar films. “Cars 3”, luckily, was better than the second that’s for sure. The film has more heart like the first but unfortunately doesn’t deliver much till the end. Newcomer character, Cruz Ramierz definitely steals the show.

Official Premise: Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage!

Before I saw this I was quick to say at least Mater looks like he is not even in this film but what’s funny after seeing it is his scenes I actually enjoyed and added the only real comedic relief. He still was only in the film for a very short time. I took my five year old to see this and honestly, she was bored out of her mind and gave it a big thumbs down. I liked it a little more because of the heart that the film tried to replicate from the first film. I appreciated that and I know others will as well.

Keeping in line with the previous films, Pixar didn’t disappoint. The visuals were impressive and the colors were beautiful, no question. The 3D, I felt was rather useless. I don’t recall being wowed by anything. Obviously, I doubt we have seen the end of this franchise. I did like the way it was ended in particular and could lead it down an interesting path, but overall I just left the theatre like my kid feeling kinda blah, didn’t hate it just didn’t really love it.

Film Review “The Mummy (2017)”

Directed by: Alex Kurtzman
Starring: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, Russell Crowe
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Rated: PG-13
Running time: 107 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

After seeing the first trailer to “The Mummy” starring Tom Cruise, I have to admit, I rolled my eyes a little and said “Oh boy” and I wasn’t sold on a female mummy plays by Sofia Boutella. So going into the movie, my expectations were kinda low but I was hoping to really dig it. Let me tell you from the moment this movie started I was HOOKED, till the moment it ended! I loved it. I thought that it was a perfect start to Universal’s new planned “Dark Universe”, which will feature all the classic monsters. I love the old monster films and they are just begging for an actually good big screen revival. “The Mummy” is a non-stop action packed, scary as hell must see Summer flick! Do not miss this film!

Official Premise: Nick Morton (Cruise) is a soldier of fortune who plunders ancient sites for timeless artifacts and sells them to the highest bidder. When Nick and his partner come under attack in the Middle East, the ensuing battle accidentally unearths Ahmanet (Boutella), a betrayed Egyptian princess who was entombed under the desert for thousands of years. With her powers constantly evolving, Morton must now stop the resurrected monster as she embarks on a furious rampage through the streets of London.

From the trailers, I wasn’t sure if this movie was going to be more action than horror but let me tell you it packed some great scares and was creepy as hell. I was honestly shocked cause it was freaking scary in parts…yet still packed some amazing action scenes. I am sure that till film will be compared to “The Mummy” film series with Brendan Fraser but it is completely different. That series was more like an Indiana Jones copy. This series feels much darker and surprisingly more fun as well.

Big surprises in the cast were Jake Johnson (known better as Nick Miller from TV’s “New Girl” and “Jurassic World”). He steals the show and gives the film a real ode to “An American Werewolf in London”, which I dug a lot! Great addition. Also Russell Crowe, yet again, surprised us all showing up as Dr. Henry Jekyll, which adds so much to the film and plans for future development. He nails the role perfectly and I can’t wait to see more of him in future films in this new “Dark Universe”.

I am sure “real critics” are going to tear this apart but if you are a true genre fan, this is a fantastic kick off to this new shared universe that Universal is creating and real fun/scary film to enjoy this Summer. It also delivered a great lead-in/back story that adds some great mythology to the film as well…and the best part about this film is that the trailer doesn’t give it all away like in other recent films this Summer (talking about you “Alien: Covenant”). So be sure to head to the theaters and have a blast with this one and let’s ensure that Universal has the opportunity to continue their “Dark Universe” but I am dying to see what they come up with next for “Bride of Frankenstein” in 2019.