I STILL BELIEVE.
S.P. – Based on a true story of musician, Jeremy Camp, comes this romance tale exploring love, faith and music.
I Still Believe is the tragic love story of the Grammy-nominated music artist and his first wife, Melissa Henning.
In the movie, K.J. Apa plays Jeremy, an aspiring musician attending California’s Calvary Chapel Bible College in 1999. There, he encounters and impresses his idol, Jean-Luc (Nathan Parsons), a popular Christian music artist who invites the young man to his band’s campus concert.
While glancing at the audience from backstage, Jeremy spots Melissa (Britt Robertson) singing along to the music. Feeling awkward at first, Jeremy eventually manages to introduce himself to the young woman, who has rendered him love-struck at first sight.
Their friendship blossoms into romance. But tragedy soon strikes in their lives when Melissa is diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer, setting in motion a poignant story of faith and love in the process.
Cast: KJ Apa, Britt Robertson, Melissa Roxburgh, Nathan Dean, Shania Twain, and Gary Sinise.
S.P. – Clever written movie with a lot of action very entertaining in a macabre way.
The Hunt revolves around a group of twelve strangers who wake up in a clearing, no idea where they are or how they got there. But just as they’ve barely unlocked their mouth gags and stumbled upon a crate full of weapons, bullets and arrows start raining down on the unwitting victims, who quickly realize they’re being hunted for sport. As fate would have it, the hunters get more than they bargained for when one of the hunted, a woman named Crystal (Betty Gilpin), turns out to be a highly-skilled and intelligent survivalist. One by one, Crystal starts killing her attackers, gradually working her way up to Athena (Hilary Swank), the mysterious individual who organized “The Hunt” to begin with.
Cast: Ike Barinholtz, Betty Gilpin, Emma Roberts and Hilary Swank
THE WAY BACK
S.P. – Ben Affleck stuns in powerful dramatic drama.
Jack Cunningham (Ben Affleck) is an alcoholic. A steel worker in Southern California, he drinks continuously throughout his day. Whether it’s hiding vodka in his coffee mug, getting plastered at his local bar, or plowing through beers in his apartment. Jack lives in a constant state of inebriation. He has isolated himself from friends and family. Jack’s sister (Michaela Watkins), and separated wife (Janina Gavankar), are extremely worried.
A chance meeting at the liquor store with a high school classmate sheds light on Jack’s history. He was a star player in the Catholic schools league. Jack is shocked when his former priest offers him the varsity coaching position. His first instinct is to decline politely. He decides to take a risk. The team is much worse than expected. But the players and game awaken a part of his soul he thought could never be healed. Jack is forced to face the tragedy that led to his downward spiral.
Starring: Ben Affleck, Al Madrigal, Michaela Watkins, Janina Gavankar.
GO BACK TO CHINA
S.P. – A fun enjoyable movie with a simple script but effective.
Sasha Li (Anna Akana) is a 20-something second generation Chinese immigrant who graduated from Fashion School a year ago. While looking for a job, she’s been supported by her estranged father (Richard Ng), the owner of a toy factory in Shenzhen, China. Her dad wants her to work at the family factory, going through the extreme length of cutting off Sasha and her mother to coerce her. Evicted and with no income, Sasha goes to Shenzhen to confront her father, her half siblings, and her father’s new young girlfriend against her own desire.
Starring: Akemi Look, Anna Akana, Aviva Wang, Brittany Renee Finamore, Christina Thomas, Kelly Hu, Kendy Cheung, Lynn Chen, Richard Ng, Tiger Ting.
S.P. – A fun adventure movie, bringing two brothers closer together.
Directed and partially written by Monsters University helmer Dan Scanlon, Onward tells the story of two brothers in a fantastical world that has over time devolved into something more closely resembling ours. Ian (voiced by Tom Holland) and Barley Lightfoot (Chris Pratt) are pointy-eared blue elves. Their teenage years in suburbia are not especially magical or exotic. We feel with the socially awkward Ian as he stumbles through inviting some semi-familiar classmates to his 16th birthday party he cancels in the same breath. Barley, meanwhile, has been stretching his “gap year” by mainly sitting around the house and playing an equivalent of Dungeons & Dragons. Barley is uniquely fascinated by the rich and whimsical history of the family’s town, where wizards, quests, and magic once were all real forces, not just fodder for themed family restaurants.
For Ian’s 16th, his mom (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) gives the boys something their late father left for them. It’s a staff with a gem and instructions to bring back Mr. Lightfoot for one full day. Early on, the film has already tactfully established the void left behind by Dad’s passing. Ian has no memories of his father and Barley only has three or four, yet Dad’s shadow hangs over them, with Ian even editing an answering machine message to be able to simulate talking with him. So, the prospect of getting to spend 24 hours with the man who contributed half of their DNA is more than a little exciting for the brothers. Alas, in the tradition of Pixar complications, the spell doesn’t work completely and Mr. Lightfoot has materialized as simply a pair of legs, dressed in loafers, pants, and his signature purple socks.
Naturally, Ian, Barley, and Dad’s legs embark on an adventure to get the rare stone needed to bring back the rest of Mr. Lightfoot temporarily. They’re racing against the clock; the spell only lasts until the following day’s sunset. But with Barley relying upon his knowledge of fantasy role-playing games and Ian utilizing common sense, the two hop into Barley’s trusty, rusty van Guinevere and set their sights on the mountain believed to hold the uncommon gem they’ll need to complete the spell, braving peril and biker pixies in the process.
Directed by Dan Scanlon.
Featuring the voice talents of Chris Pratt, Tom Holland, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Mel Rodriguez, Ali Wong, Lena Waithe, and John Ratzenberger.
THE CALL OF THE WILD
S.P. – The Call of the Wild is a mix of live action and CGI adventure put well together
he film is based of the famous 1903 novel by Jack London and, like Little Women, it has had numerous adaptations through the years. The director is Chris Sanders who is best known for writing and directing Lilo and Stitch.
We first meet Buck as the rambunctious pet of a wealthy judge (Bradley Whitford) in 1890s Santa Clara, California. A gargantuan Saint Bernard and Scotch Collie mix, the lovable Buck creates chaos in the household. Buck’s size and strength makes him a valuable target. Sled dogs are in high demand for those who dare to brave the frozen Canadian Yukon for gold. Buck is lured away on a stormy night by an unscrupulous thief. The spirited dog is cruelly beaten into submission on the trip north. His will is broken by “the law of the club.”
Buck’s intelligence, stamina, and loyalty are noticed quickly upon his arrival. He first meets the grieving John Thornton (Harrison Ford), then the intrepid French-Canadian mail runners Perrault (Omar Sy) and François (Cara Gee); who train him to become a sled dog. Buck learns the ways of the pack through the jaws of its alpha, the ferocious Spitz. As Buck becomes acclimated to life in the Yukon, he senses an ancestral spirit calling him from the woods. An inner awakening draws him further into the distant land, where an old friend documents his remarkable transformation.
Starring: Harrison Ford, Omar Sy, Dan Stevens, Karen Gillan, Bradley Whitford, Cara Gee, Michael Horse, Jean Louisa Kelly, Colin Woodell, Adam Fergus and Abraham Benrubi.
S.P. – Slow moving Romance Movie
The film follows the interlocking story lines of Mae Morton (Issa Rae), a curator at Queens Museum with a great wardrobe and a bonkers-level beautiful apartment, and Michael Block (LaKeith Stanfield), a journalist with a penchant for getting in his own way romantically. They’re both fresh from previous entanglements. Their paths cross as Michael works on an article about the oil spill along the Gulf Coast, bringing him to interview the Louisiana-based oil worker Isaac Jefferson (Rob Morgan) and come across the photographs of Christina Eames (Chanté Adams), who just so happens to be Mae’s mother. Christina recently died, leaving behind a storied career and a daughter who questions if she was ever really loved. In the flashbacks to Christina’s life we see her tender beginnings as a photographer and her lovely albeit complicated relationship with a younger Isaac (Y’lan Noel). The film is populated by side characters that are immediately eye-catching, particularly Lil Rel Howery as Michael’s brother Kyle, delivering a steady stream of jokes whenever he’s onscreen.
Starring: Issa Rae, LaKeith Stanfield, Chanté Adams, Y’lan Noel, Rob Morgan, Lil Rel Howery and Courtney B. Vance.
S.P. – Downhill lives up to it’s name, it lacks chemistry a far cry from the original.
Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus star in a remake of the 2014 American spin on Ruben Ostlund’s 2014 Swedish film, ‘Force Majeure.’
Pete (Will Ferrell) and Billie (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) are on vacation in the Austrian Alps with their two kids. One day, as they eat lunch with others on the terrace of a restaurant, they see a controlled avalanche approaching from a good distance away. At first, it’s an interesting little sight. Then, chaos briefly reigns as the rolling, thundering cloud of white approaches and engulfs the entire terrace. Pete quickly grabs his phone and bails, leaving Billie and the two kids to sit there and get blasted by whatever that terrifying thing coming down the mountain was. It turns out to be not much. Just a bit of snow flying through the air. It clears up quickly, and everybody takes their seats and proceeds as if nothing has happened; even the little menu stands on the tables don’t seem to have tipped over. Pete orders soup. But Billie is frozen with fear, visibly shaken. The visual strategy of the film changes, and suddenly the two leads are separated in discomfiting head-on shots that make them look like they’re talking directly to the audience.
The repercussions of this seeming nonevent, with its seismic emotional consequences, play out over the rest of their trip. They file a complaint with the resort’s safety office, where they’re informed that the incident was “handled perfectly.” Billie’s rage at her husband’s nonchalance, and his defensive posture first casual, then increasingly pathetic starts to consume every interaction. They have a falling out in front of friends. They take time off from each other. It’s hard for either to put into words what they’re actually feeling, which lends a hesitancy to every scene.
Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Will Ferrell, Zach Woods, Zoe Chao, Miranda Otto, and directed by Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
By S.P. – A clever script and superb acting by an A-list cast.
The Gentlemen is a crime action-comedy directed by Guy Ritchie and stars Matthew McConaughey as Mickey Pearson, an American drug lord in London who wears three-piece tweed suits and speaks with a distinctive Southern twang. Looking to cash out his lucrative marijuana empire and retire with wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery), he finds a prospective buyer in countryman Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong).
But when the word gets out that Pearson is looking to cash out, it triggers plots, schemes, bribery and coercion. Among those making a play is a ruthless young Asian tyro, Dry Eye (Henry Golding). The fine detail plays out as low-life Fletcher (Hugh Grant) tries to blackmail Pearson’s right-hand man, Ray (Charlie Hunnam).
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan, Colin Farrell, and Hugh Grant.
BAD BOYS FOR LIFE
By S.P. – Hilarious. Action-packed Fun.
The nineties buddy cop duo returns for a third time of melodrama, and bullets. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence continue to be likeable in Bad Boys for Life. The film treads much more seriously than previous installments. Their mantra of “ride together, die together” hits harder than the Michael Bay directed prequels.
Bad Boys for Life picks up with Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) celebrating two milestones. Twenty-five years together on the police force, and the birth of Marcus’ grandson. The joyous events bring the police family, led by Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano) and a new crew of detectives (Paola Núñez, Vanessa Hudgens), together to celebrate. The night is shattered by tragedy. A long simmering enemy is back for vengeance.
A diabolical villainess (Kate del Castillo) has escaped from prison in Mexico. She dispatches her ruthless son (Jacob Scipio) on a deadly mission. Take back their cartel, and make an example out of Mike Lowrey. As the Miami Police Department reels from the savage attacks, Mike and Marcus must face a new truth. Marcus wants to retire. He’s through with the danger and violence. Mike is out for blood. The longtime partners are tested like never before, but will always have each others back.
Starring: Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Directed by Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah.
Jumanji: The Next Level
By S.P. – A new twist adds unexpected fun to the game.
The film begins with Spencer (Alex Wolff) having a difficult freshman year at college in New York City. He struggles while Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain), Bethany (Madison Iseman), and ex-girlfriend Martha (Morgan Turner) have eagerly adapted to post high school life. When Bethany arranges a reunion dinner over winter break, Spencer ignores the group’s texts. But his misery increases at home. Spencer’s grumpy Grandpa Eddie (Danny DeVito) is recovering from hip surgery, in his room.
The gang gets worried when Spencer doesn’t show up. They go to his house, where Eddie is having an argument with his old business partner, the long-winded Milo (Danny Glover). They race to the basement when they hear Jumanji’s ominous drums. Spencer kept the pieces of the game and haphazardly reassembled it. They decide to return to Jumanji and rescue Spencer. But the game whisks away Eddie and Milo as well.
When they’re transported to Jumanji, Eddie is Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson). Milo is now Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart). And Fridge, much to his annoyance, has become Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black). Only Martha has remained as Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). Left alone in the basement, Bethany races to the only person (Colin Hanks) who can help. In the game, the others embark on a new, more dangerous adventure to find Spencer.
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Awkwafina, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Morgan Turner, Alex Wolff with Danny Glover and Danny DeVito.
ANGEL HAS FALLEN
S.P. – Non-Stop Action
ANGEL HAS FALLEN is the third installment of the FALLEN series of films following 2013’s OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN and 2016’s LONDON HAS FALLEN. The films follow United States Secret Service agent Mike Banning played by Gerard Butler saving the President played by Morgan Freeman from any harm as his personal bodyguard/agent.
The plot involves Mike Banning who must race against time to clear his name after being framed for an attack on the US President, Allan Trumbull. Pursued by his own agency and the FBI, Banning turns to unlikely allies to clear his name and uncover the real terrorist threat.
CAST: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lance Reddick, Tim Blake Nelson, Piper Perabo, with Nick Nolte, and Danny Huston.
Ready or Not
S.P. – Family Tradtion turns into hellish Nightmare
Ready or Not is a macabre black comedy about a wealthy family’s wedding night tradition. It swings from devilishly funny to stomach churning violence in a breathlessly paced ninety-six minutes.
The movie starts of with Grace (Samara Weaving) a nervous bride before her wedding to the fabulously wealthy Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien). A poor young woman raised in foster homes, she worries about her acceptance into the gilded Le Domas clan. Her future mother-in-law (Andie MacDowell) thanks her for bringing their wayward son back home. The groom’s disdainful father (Henry Czerny), stern aunt (Nicky Guadagni), and haughty relatives aren’t as accepting. Only his brother (Adam Brody) expresses concern about Grace’s feelings, and pointedly reminds she can still walk away.
After an intimate ceremony at the stately Le Domas manor, Alex informs Grace of a family ritual. Anyone marrying into the family must participate in a game on their wedding night. The family made their fortune long ago selling simple cards. Grace must choose a card from a special container that will dictate the game they play. The only rule is that she must play successfully until sunrise the next day. Grace’s initial laughter turns to screams as she realizes the true extent of the game and so the Hunt is on.
Starring Samara Weaving, Adam Brody, Mark O’ Brien, with Henry Czerny, and Andie MacDowell
S.P. – Hilarious coming of age comedy but not suitable for Children.
The story centers on three young, foul-mouthed, but sweet kids named Max (Jacob Tremblay), Thor (Brady Noon) and Lucas (Keith L. Williams), who ride around town on their bikes and go by the name the Beanbag Boys because, well, they each have beanbags to hang out on. Soon they have a chance to do some real grown-up stuff and attend their first kissing party, but in an attempt to learn how to kiss they lose Max’s dad’s expensive drone, setting them on a wild chase to get a new one so he doesn’t get grounded, and thus forever losing his chance to kiss the girl he loves.
S.P – Unfortunately the movie falls flat could have been more upbeat especially with a great cast like that!
The movie is an adaption of the Vertigo comic book series of the same name by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle. It kicks off in 1978 introducing Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy), Ruby O’Carroll (Tiffany Haddish), and Claire Walsh (Elisabeth Moss); women who are frequently disrespected and undervalued by their husbands who work for the Irish mob. When their husbands are caught robbing a store and sentenced to three years in prison, the ladies are inspired to stand up for themselves, take matters into their own hands and build a mob of their own.
THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN
S.P. – A heartwarming story both funny and sad!
Based on the best-selling novel by Garth Stein, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN is a heartfelt tale narrated by a witty and philosophical dog named Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner). Through his bond with his owner, Denny Swift (Milo Ventimiglia), an aspiring Formula One race car driver, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition and understands that the techniques needed on the racetrack can also be used to successfully navigate the journey of life. The film follows Denny and the loves of his life his wife, Eve (Amanda Seyfried), their young daughter Zoe (Ryan Kiera Armstrong), and ultimately, his true best friend, Enzo.
Starring: Amanda SeyfriedKevin CostnerMilo VentimigliaGary ColeKathy BakerMartin Donovan
S.P. – An interesting take on different customs around the world.
The film is a fictionalized take of Wang’s own personal experiences as a Chinese-American, and centers on her proxy Billi (Awkwafina) – to whom we are introduced as a young struggling writer living in New York. She is a very family-oriented woman, regularly visiting her parents (Tzi Ma and Diana Lin) who live locally, and calling her grandmother, Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhou), who still lives in China. It’s this closeness that makes it particularly devastating when she learns that Nai Nai has end stage lung cancer and only a few months to live.
The grief strikes immediately, but is made complicated by a discovered catch. While Billi’s entire family knows about Nai Nai’s condition, the one person who doesn’t is Nai Nai – and there are no plans to inform her. Billi discovers that it is customary in China to keep the elderly entirely in the dark about terminal condition, allowing them to live the rest of their lives without the anxiety of knowing about their impending death. Doctors instead inform someone close to them about the situation, and the necessary steps are taken without their knowledge.
A plan is orchestrated to have Nai Nai’s relatives travel to China to celebrate a wedding, but the wedding is actually fake, and the real idea is for everyone to have an opportunity to say goodbye without giving away the truth. Despite her rather dire financial situation, Billi decides that she needs to go on the trip to see her grandmother, all the while wrestling with the complicated ethical dilemma presented by Chinese customs.
Starring: Aoi Mizuhara, Awkwafina, Becca Khalil, Diana Lin, Gil Perez-Abraham, Han Chen, Hong Lu, Ines Laimins, Jim Liu, Shuzhen Zhou, Tzi Ma, X Mayo, Yongbo Jiang, Zhao Shuzhen
LION KING 2019
S.P. – Amazing CGI Impressions!
The movie’s premise is pretty much the same. You have Simba, the son of Mufasa that wants to go on his father’s footsteps. But Scar, Simba’s uncle wants to betray Mufasa and take over the Pride Lands. Simba has to go in an exile and he will then meet with Timon and Pumbaa. In order for Simba to survive he needs to make an alliance. And then he will use that in order to take what’s rightfully his back.
When it comes to stories, The Lion King was very creative and it did bring in front some really impressive features. But the thing that really matters the most here is the unique attention to detail and how accurate the visuals are here. There are a few returning voiceover professionals here, but we also have some new stars too, so there’s pretty much something for everyone here.
Cast: Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, John Oliver, Florence Kasumba, Eric André, Keegan-Michael Key, JD McCrary, Shahadi Wright Joseph, with Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and James Earl Jones.
S.P. – Jolly Good Old Fun!
Stuber follows detective Vic Manning (Dave Bautista), who’s relentlessly chasing drug kingpin Oka Teijo (Iwo Uwais), the man responsible for killing his former partner. However, with a major drop going down on the same day Vic had LASIK surgery, he’s unable to drive himself so he calls an Uber. By day, Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) works at a sporting goods store where he’s constantly made fun of by his boss Richie (Jimmy Tatro), and at night Stu drives an Uber – prompting Richie to give him the nickname Stuber. But when Stu accepts Vic’s request for a ride desperate to get a five-star rating so he can earn enough money to open a spin gym with the woman he’s in love with, Becca (Betty Gilpin) Stu is reluctantly dragged into Vic’s hunt for Teijo. The ride takes the duo all over L.A., including to the art show of Vic’s daughter Nicole (Natalie Morales), but it’s unclear if they’ll survive the night, let alone catch Teijo.
Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan.
SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME
S.P. – Super Fun, lots of Action best Spiderman Movie by far.
After helping to save the world in Avengers: Endgame, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is looking to relax as a normal teenager on a science trip to Europe with his classmates, including best friend Ned (Jacob Batalon). Though he has an elaborate seven-step plan to confess his love to MJ (Zendaya), fate intervenes in the form of gigantic elemental monsters with the power of fire and air that must be stopped. With the help of Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a mysterious superpowered soldier from another world, Peter must decide if he’s ready to be more than just a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is a worthwhile summer blockbuster that will leave fans satisfied and eager for the next Marvel film.
Stars: Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, J. B. Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, Marisa Tomei, and Jake Gyllenhaal.
S.P. – Slow burn Movie, with some disturbing scenes!
Midsommar centers on a couple whose relationship is in trouble. This is exacerbated in the wake of an unexpected tragedy. In the aftermath, the couple travels, along with some friends from college, to a Swedish midsummer festival, on the invitation of a friend who grew up there. It’s, at first, a seemingly utopian paradise. But as the days roll on, it quickly evolves into a complete and utter nightmare as the locals who inhabit this commune are not who they seem to be on the surface.
Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper, Vilhelm Blomgren, Archie Madekwe, Ellora Torchia, and Will Poulter.
Men in Black: International
S.P. – A New Refreshing take on MIB
It’s been almost 22 years since the original “Men in Black” movie hit, which is roughly the amount of time a young woman named Molly has spent wanting to be part of the super-secret alien-wrangling agency that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones have so ably represented until now. Molly was just a child when she had her first close encounter of the third kind, and though the black-suited, sunglasses-at-night G-men who showed up may have erased her parents’ memories, they didn’t wipe Molly’s brain, which has left room to ask: Where can she sign up? And what role is there for a woman among the Men in Black?
Turns out the second question was answered in 2012’s “MIB3,” when Emma Thompson took over for Rip Torn as the crypto-cratic org’s no-nonsense overseer. And now, rising star Tessa Thompson sets out to address the first, donning the signature uniform snug Paul Smith suit, white shirt, skinny black tie and waltzing through the front door of the off-the-grid agency to volunteer her services. More reboot than sequel, and less coherent or polished than the sci-fi trilogy that preceded it, “Men in Black: International” doesn’t make a big deal of the fact that its new recruit isn’t a man.
Cast: Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson
S.P. – Hilarious Action Drama
Shaft isn’t so much a reboot as it is a revival, bringing together all three generations of the Shaft family including original John Shaft played by Richard Roundtree, his nephew played by Samuel L. Jackson and Shaft’s son JJ played by Jesse T.
JJ, aka John Shaft Jr., may be a cyber security expert with a degree from MIT, but to uncover the truth behind his best friend’s untimely death, he needs an education only his dad can provide. Absent throughout JJ’s youth, the legendary John Shaft (Jackson) agrees to help his son to navigate the Harlem underworld to solve the crime.
And while JJ’s own FBI analyst’s badge may clash with his dad’s trademark leather duster, there’s no denying family. Besides, Shaft’s got an agenda of his own, and a score to settle that’s professional and personal.
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Jessie T. Usher, Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, and Richard Roundtree.
S.P. – Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson make ‘Late Night’ a great night again.
The film centres on American talk-show host, British born Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson), a pioneer in her field. The only woman ever to have a long-running program on late night, she keeps her writers’ room on a short leash and all male, and all white male. But when her ratings plummet and she finally realizes that she but not her show is going to be axed, she starts taking notice and action, and oddly enough, inappropriate action. She is accused of being a “woman who hates women,” Katherine puts gender equality on her to-do list and impulsively hires Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling herself), a chemical plant efficiency expert from suburban Pennsylvania, as the first and only female on her writing staff.
Starring: Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow.
The Secret Life of Pets 2
S.P. – Furry Fun, loaded with Pet Adventures.
Picking up where the original 2016 film left off, this sequel centers on a terrier named Max (Patton Oswalt). Max is still living happily in New York City with his owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper), and his best friend Duke (Eric Stonestreet). But then suddenly, in a brief montage, we see everything change: Katie meets a guy, gets married and has a baby, none of which Max likes.
Eventually the baby becomes a toddler, and he and the dogs begin to get along so well that Max feels he must protect the child from everything. The best way to do that is to not let him do anything.
Meanwhile, in another apartment, Snowball the rabbit (Kevin Hart) has come to think of himself as a superhero, thanks to the costume that his owner dresses him in. Gidget (Jenny Slate), a pampered puffball of a Pomeranian, still has a crush on Max.
The main story begins when Max’s family takes a vacation to a relative’s farm. He entrusts his favorite toy to the Pomeranian, Gidget (Jenny Slate), for safekeeping; who instantly loses it in spectacular fashion. Snowball’s heroics are put to the test when he’s recruited to rescue an abused circus tiger from his evil owner (Nick Kroll) by a bossy Shih Tzu (Tiffany Haddish). On the farm, Max and Duke are mightily impressed by the fearless herding dog, Rooster (Harrison Ford). He isn’t putting up with their soft, city dog antics. The three adventures wind back together in an action-packed ending that’s absolutely hilarious.
Cast: Lake Bell, Hannibal Buress, Dana Carvey, Harrison Ford, Tiffany Haddish, Kevin Hart, Pete Holmes, Garth Jennings, Ellie Kemper, Nick Kroll, Bobby Moynihan, Patton Oswald, Jenny Slate, Eric Stonestreet.
S.P. – Doesn’t leave up to the hype!
This continuation of the X-Men franchise and sequel to ‘X-Men Apocalypse’ focuses on Jean Grey’s powers and becoming Dark Phoenix.
During a rescue mission in space, Jean Grey is hit by a mysterious cosmic energy that heightens her powers. This transformation makes her unstable and extremely dangerous. Now she doesn’t merely pose a threat to her X-Men family, but to the whole world. The X-Men need to choose between saving her and saving the rest of humanity. Although ‘Dark Phoenix’ didn’t live up to expectations, it managed to show us how powerful Jean Grey can be. Action wise, there are a few fun moments, but nothing memorable.
Stars: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, and Jessica Chastain.
DARK PHOENIX is scored by composer Hans Zimmer.
By S.P. – Taron Egerton is truly remarkable in his portrayal of Elton John.
We first meet Elton John (Taron Egerton) in full costumed regalia, high on drugs, and desperate for help. He sings, dances, and plops down in a therapy circle. The other patients are surprised and amused. Then the tone becomes serious. Elton begins his story as young Reginald Dwight (Matthew Illesley), a painfully shy boy with a cold, unloving father (Steven Mackintosh), and firebrand mother (Bryce Dallas Howard). His only childhood escape was the piano, an instrument in which he naturally excelled. He was so skilled, young Reggie received a scholarship to the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London.
Reggie Dwight spent his teenage years playing local pubs, then as a stage pianist for touring soul singers. He saw first hand what was needed to command the audience. You had to have flashy clothes and a catchy name. The newly minted Elton John is introduced to a young songwriter, Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), by the short tempered record producer, Dick James (Stephen Graham). Elton and Bernie were a match made in songwriting heaven. Their music began to storm the UK charts. But when the United States came calling, Elton John had to defeat his long seeded self hatred. He overcame the hurdle by succumbing to a drugs, sex, and rock and roll lifestyle. Depravity masked his pain through many years and millions of albums sold. But eventually every rocket comes crashing down in the end.
By S.P. – Killer Performance by Octavia Spencer
MA is the latest film from director Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up), co-written by Taylor and Scotty Landes (Comedy Central’s Workaholics), which centers on a lonely woman who begins to dangerously spiral after she befriends a group of teenagers. The film stars Oscar winner Octavia Spencer (The Help), Diana Silvers (Glass), Juliette Lewis (August: Osage County), Luke Evans (Beauty and the Beast), Missi Pyle (Gone Girl), McKaley Miller (TV’s Hart of Dixie), Corey Fogelmanis (TV’s Girl Meets World), Gianni Paolo (TV’s Power) and Dante Brown (Lethal Weapon).
Based on the official synopsis, Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer) is a loner who keeps to herself in her quiet Ohio town. One day, she is asked by Maggie (Diana Silvers), a new teenager in town, to buy some booze for her and her friends, and Sue Ann sees the chance to make some unsuspecting, if younger, friends of her own. She offers the kids the chance to avoid drinking and driving by hanging out in the basement of her home. But there are some house rules: One of the kids has to stay sober. Don’t curse. Never go upstairs. And call her “Ma.” But as Ma’s hospitality starts to curdle into obsession, what began as a teenage dream turns into a terrorizing nightmare, and Ma’s place goes from the best place in town to the worst place on earth.
By S.P. – Will Smith delivers a fun, loving Genie.
Disney’s latest live-action remake of one of its classic animated movies, Aladdin is directed by Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes, Snatch), and features Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Naomi Scott as Jasmine, and Will Smith as the Genie in a role that mixes CG and live-action shots.
The film follows the same basic story of the acclaimed 1992 film where Aladdin recovers a lamp containing the Genie who grants him wishes. The new movie features a number of songs from the original, including classics like “A Whole New World” and “Prince Ali.”
Aladdin is a big extravagant musical production that’s filled with fun performances, bright colors, and some exciting moments. It’s a refreshing remake that stands on its own and is, in many ways, an improvement on the original.
JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM.
By S.P. – Non-Stop Bloody Action
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum: John Wick (Keanu Reeves) becomes the target of assasins around the globe after a bounty of $14 million is placed on his head.
In the third installment of the ‘John Wick’ series, the famed assassin is declared ‘excommunicado’ after breaking the code of the High Table in the Continental Hotel. Now on the run with a price tag of 14 million dollars, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) must fend for himself yet again, as all the assassins men and women in the world are gunning for him. The ‘John Wick’ series continues to expand on the universe it established in the previous two films by introducing a whole new set of characters along with some returning vital players.
Ian McShane & Lance Reddick reprise their roles as Winston & Charon respectively, with the latter doing a lot more than merely serving guests at the concierge. Watch out for Silat masters Cecep Arif Rahman & Yayan Ruhian in arguably one of the most stunning pieces of fight choreography seen in this series so far, and that’s an extremely high bar to meet. Mark Dacascos is more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the best martial artists. He lends so much charisma to Zero that he often ends up being a scene-stealer while gracing the film with yet another breathless and nail-biting sequence. Asia Kate Dillon is menacing as the Adjudicator of the High Table and makes her presence felt. But the real MVP amongst all the new characters is Halle Berry as Sofia, a dog-loving assassin and John’s old friend. It’s safe to say her hounds redeem the death of the puppy which started this whole series, much to the delight of canine-lovers.
Driven by the notion of rules and consequences, the plot is standard and straightforward, so don’t expect anything more profound than what you see. But ‘Parabellum’ more than makes up for what it lacks in depth, with stunning visuals and captivating action. There’s little sense to the proceedings, and yet, you’ll be so utterly gobsmacked by the beauty in destruction, that logic won’t matter. Keanu Reeves puts in the hard work to allow for long takes and steady camerawork to make each dynamic movement register with impact.
Directed by Chad Stahelski again after ‘John Wick 2’, ‘Parabellum’ plays to the actor’s strengths, allowing him to do what he does best. If the makers maintain this level of masterful execution, Keanu Reeves can continue to play this violent & virtually indestructible killing machine, and action lovers will gladly eat it up till the end of time. ‘Parabellum’ is an essential entry to this series and one that cannot be missed.
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Saïd Taghmaoui, Jerome Flynn, Jason Mantzoukas, Tobias Segal, Boban Marjanovic, with Anjelica Huston, and Ian McShane
By S.P. – Fun Weekend Movie
Penny has been a small-time con artist catfishing men into giving her money for a fake sister’s breast job. However, she stumbles upon Josephine, a more sophisticated grifter, and decides she wants to up her game a bit. Problem is, Josephine only has employees, not partners, so Penny has to decide on an internship or get lost. She decides to learn from Josephine instead, but there comes a point when the student wants to prove she is on the level, if not better, than the master. They find their mark named ‘Thomas’ to prove their methods are better than the other. However, neither Penny nor Josephine are truly prepped for what Thomas has up his sleeves.
Starring : Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson
In Theaters May 10
By S.P. – A Universal Story of Friendship and Love and Loss.
Tolkien opens in theaters this week. The film stars Nicholas Hoult as Tolkien and Lily Collins as Edith Bratt in a story that covers the events of Tolkien’s formative years, including his time at school and the fellowship of friends he found there, as well as his serving in World War I and his personal and romantic relationship with Edith.
The movie covers Tolkien’s major life events that inspired his acclaimed fantasy novels including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Starring Nicholas Hoult and Lily Collins.
In Theaters May 3rd
By S.P. – There’s a place for everyone.
In the adorably different town of Uglyville, weird is celebrated, strange is special and beauty is embraced as more than simply meets the eye. Here, the free-spirited Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) and her UglyDoll friends live every day in a whirlwind of bliss, letting their freak flags fly in a celebration of life and its endless possibilities. The endearingly unique residents of Uglyville occasionally look to the sky above the town, where a new UglyDoll will appear and be embraced by the community. Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) loves her square-peg life in this round-hole town, but her curiosity about all things leads her to wonder if there’s something – anything – on the other side of the mountain which nestles Uglyville.
Moxy gathers a group of her closest friends and sets off to find what’s on the other side. They discover another world – Perfection – a town where more conventional dolls are trained in protocols before they graduate and are sent to the “real” world to find the love of a child. In Perfection, Moxy and her crew are subject to the manipulations of Lou (Nick Jonas), the perfect doll in charge of training recruits. Here, the UglyDolls will confront what it means to be different, struggle with their desire to be loved, and ultimately discover that you don’t have to be perfect to be amazing because who you truly are is what matters most.
UglyDolls Voice Cast:
Kelly Clarkson as Moxy, she is the leader of the group and she has an insatiable curiosity, limitless confidence. Moxy has the ability to make other people feel great about who they are. In the movie, she is also looking for something more.
Nick Jonas as Lou, He is a tough-talking and a buff leader from Perfection. Lou is a perfect doll that trains recruits for perfection. He has contempt for the UglyDolls for falling short of his standards.
Pitbull as Ugly Dog, He is Moxy’s closet friend and also got a smart collar with every gadget you can imagine.
Janelle Monáe as Mandy. Mandy played the role of a lonely perfect doll who longs for a friend.
Blake Shelton as Ox, Ox is the Unofficial Mayor of Uglyville. Ox is also a mentor to all the other UglyDolls.
Emma Roberts as Wedgehead: the newest citizen of Uglyville.
Wanda Sykes as Wage, played the role of chef by trade
Bebe Rexha as Tuesday
Wang Leehom as Lucky Bat
Charli XCX as Kitty
Gabriel Iglesias as Babo
Lizzo as Lydia
In Theaters May 3rd
By S.P. – Dennis Quaid a Homeowner’s Nightmare
THE INTRUDER is a creepy thriller about a young couple, Scott and Annie (Michael Ealy and Meagan Good), who buy a beautiful countryside home in Napa Valley from Charlie, but learn that Charlie is having a hard time letting go of his home.
The movie begins with Scott getting a great new job taking him and his wife Annie to San Francisco. While looking at houses in Napa Valley, Annie falls in love with a beautiful old cottage home owned by Charlie Peck (Dennis Quaid). Charlie has lived in the home his entire life. With his wife now deceased, he’s put his entire heart and soul into the house. Charlie agrees to give Scott and Annie a really good deal, and the couple moves into the home.
Only a few days after the move, one morning Annie sees that Charlie is out mowing their lawn. They thought he had moved to Florida, but he says he has some unfinished business in the area. Annie is kind to Charlie, but Scott feels threatened. As Charlie stops by the house more and more, it becomes clear he’s not only obsessed with his home, but he’s become infatuated with Annie.
Starring Michael Ealy, Meagan Good and Dennis Quaid.
AVENGERS END GAME
In Theaters April 26
By S.P. – All good things come to an end. The 3-hour Marvel thrill ride tops Infinity War.
Avengers: Endgame is the final film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s current generation of movies, bringing together storylines and characters from 21 previous movies, starting with 2008’s Iron Man.
The film takes place after “Avengers: Infinity War” and follows the remaining Marvel superheroes’ quest to defeat the god-like villain Thanos, who now possesses all six infinity stones.
Picking up 23 days after the events of Infinity War, those superheroes that remain continue to hunt Thanos (Josh Brolin). However, their hopes for a quick resolution to undo his devastating snap are thwarted, and the heroes are forced to accept a world where half the population has been dusted. Then Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) reenters the picture and he has an idea “time travel”. The Quantum Realm, properly manipulated, allows those who enter it to travel through time. The scattered heroes reassemble and plan a “time heist” where they will retrieve the Infinity Stones before Thanos does, and use them to undo the damage. However, as their fragile plan begins to fracture, Thanos sees an opportunity to remain victorious.
Robert Downey, Jr. ,Chris Evans ,Chris Hemsworth ,Mark Ruffalo ,Scarlett,Johansson ,Brie Larson, Jeremy Renner , Don Cheadle , Paul Rudd , Karen Gillan , Danai Gurira , Bradley Cooper ,Josh Brolin, Winston Duke , Benedict Wong , Gwyneth Paltrow.
In Theaters April 12
By S.P. – A Fun & Heartfelt Age-Changing Comedy
Age-changing comedies are nothing new to Hollywood, with Big and 13 Going on 30 taking young preteens, aging them up to become adults and inevitably teaching them a lesson about not growing up too fast. In Universal Pictures’ latest comedy, Little, that particular formula is reversed, with an adult woman being turned back into her 13-year-old self again. Little successfully puts a funny new spin on age-changing comedy with a surprisingly heartfelt message about staying true to yourself when growing up.
Little introduces 13-year-old Jordan Sanders (Marsai Martin), who’s bullied in middle school for her interest in science and as a result of one particular incident, learns the wrong lesson about how to deal with bullies: she becomes a bully herself. Cut to grown up Jordan (Regina Hall), who’s become a tech mogul in charge of her own company is feared by all of her employees, including her overworked assistant April (Issa Rae). And when Jordan is mean to a young girl, that girl wishes Jordan was little again. And Jordan wakes up as her younger self the next morning. With an important work pitch looming and Jordan desperate to return to her adult self, she turns to April for help in finding the little girl that cursed her. However, Jordan will have to learn some hard lessons ones she didn’t learn the first time she was little before she returns to her adult self.
In Theaters April 5
By S.P. – A creepier and scarier version than the original book and movie.
“Pet Sematary” is Stephen King’s latest story to get adapted into a movie.
The remake of the 1989 movie follows Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) as he moves his family from Boston up to, what he expects to be, quiet Ludlow, Maine.
What he doesn’t know is that there’s an ancient Indian burial ground on his property, which has the ability to bring the dead back to life. When tragedy strikes his family, Creed seeks solace in the Micmac burial ground, although he’s warned against it. He and his family quickly discover that, as the book suggests, sometimes dead is better.
STARRING: Jason Clarke Amy Seimetz Jeté Laurence Hugo & Lucas Lavoie John Lithgow.
In Theaters April 4
By S.P. – Shazam is the most kid-friendly DC movie so far.
What sets “Shazam!” apart is a teenage kid trapped in an adult’s body hero, and it knows no bounds when it comes of having fun.
The Story is: An ancient wizard has been looking for a pure-hearted human to take his powers and ensure that the seven deadly sins are kept from unleashing chaos. But time is running out as every human he has tested has failed. With his powers weakening and a villain that has harnessed the powers of the sins, the wizard desperately gives his powers to Billy Batson (Asher Angel), a foster kid who has his own demons to contend with. But becoming the all-powerful Shazam (Zachary Levi) has its perks and being a kid at heart, Billy does what any teen would do with superpowers to have fun with them. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly as the same villain, Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong) who got the seven deadly sins is out to get him.
Starring Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grzer, Djimon Hounsou, and directed by David F. Sandberg.
In Theaters March 29
By S.P. – Disney Classic Returns to the Big Screen
Originally based on the storyline written by Helen Aberson and Harold Pearl, 1941’s Dumbo was the fourth animated feature film made by Walt Disney Productions, following up Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Pinocchio (1940), and Fantasia (1940). Originally conceived as a short film, Dumbo was reworked as a low-budget feature to help recoup the financial losses of Pinocchio and Fantasia. Made for half the cost of Snow White, the 64-minute film turned a profit, earning $1.6 million during its initial release. In addition to box office success, the film garnered some critical acclaim as well, winning Best Original Score at the 14th Academy Awards. Now, 77 years later, Walt Disney Productions is re-introducing the iconic character to a new generation with a live-action remake directed by Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland, Frankenweenie).
The movie follows a failing circus run by Max Medici (Danny DeVito) that gets a lease of life when one of its elephants gives birth to a baby elephant with oversized ears (Dumbo). Dumbo with his ability to fly turns fortunes for the circus and the Farrier family (Colin Farrell, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins) who look after him. But, things take a turn when a rich entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere sets his greedy eyes on the flying elephant.
Plotwise, there is nothing new in it. In fact, it’s quite predictable but you can expect Tim Burton to weave his magic and that’s what he does for the most part. If you are familiar with Tim Burton’s cinema, you’d know the least you can expect from him is his films to be visually appealing and Dumbo is no different. The texture, the canvas, and the production design are a sight for sore eyes.
The biggest achievement that the makers have pulled is with the CGI baby elephant, Dumbo. Not once would you feel that the elephant isn’t real. There are a lot of moments in the film that will fill your heart with joy.
Directed by:Tim Burton
In Theaters March 22
By S.P. – Lupita Nyong’o keeps the show running
The film starts in 1986 with a young Adelaide Wilson (Madison Curry) and her parents walking along Santa Cruz boardwalk at night. She sees something that catches her attention, a house of mirrors with “come find yourself” as the marquee. Since her father isn’t paying attention, she wanders off to the house of mirrors to quench her curiosity and finds things aren’t what they seem. What she witnesses in her reflection changes her life forever.
Fast forward to present day California, and a grownup Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o) has a full nuclear family. Her husband Gabe (Wilson Duke), daughter Zora (Shahadi Wright), and son Jason (Evan Alex) are on vacation at their summer home. It’s apparent that she is still shaken by what happened to her as a child. Her peculiar behavior is on display, as Adelaide is seen picking the seeds off a strawberry as she eats it, or snapping her fingers off beat to Luniz’s “I got five on it.”
The flashbacks of the house of mirrors, the dissociation, and post-traumatic symptoms are further exacerbated when the family returns to that same Santa Cruz boardwalk. There is an ominous air of discord hovering over them, and she tries to warn her husband of her intuitions, but of course, her husband dismisses it as hysteria. Too bad she was right, as rabid doppelgängers end up in the driveway of their summer home and all hell breaks loose as the unraveling of American society begins.
CAST: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Elisabeth Moss, Tim Heidecker, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Anna Diop, Evan Alex, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Madison Curry, Cali Sheldon, Noelle Sheldon
Written and Directed by: Jordan Peele
In Theaters March 22
By S.P. – Stellar Performance by Julianne Moore
Gloria Bell is a remake of Gloria. If you have seen Gloria, every shot of this English language version will look familiar.
Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore) is 58 years old. She’s been divorced for 12 years and has spent most or all of that time living alone. She likes to go out dancing and it’s on one of her evenings out that she meets Arnold (John Turturro), a freshly divorced former Marine. The two hit it off and a relationship begins to form.
While the ups and downs of this newly formed couple may take up a large portion of the run time of Gloria Bell, it’s still somewhat difficult to say that is what the film is actually about. Ultimately, it’s simply about Gloria, and the life that she is living as a 58-year-old single woman.
It’s similar to a coming of age story. Most of those same elements are here, navigating life and love and trying to find one’s place in the world.
Of course, Gloria Bell is much older than that, which is part of what makes the film so fascinating. It’s clear that Gloria has had her coming of age moments already. She knows who she is, she’s comfortable in her own skin. She navigates the world mostly alone, but never does she seem without the confidence to do so. Arnold still isn’t sure how to handle being divorced, in many ways, we learn, that he really isn’t yet. Gloria has been there and done that.
Starring: Julianne Moore, John Turturro and Michael Cera.
Captain Marvel Takes a Trip to the 90s
In Theaters March 8
The movie starts of with “Vers” a.k.a. Captain Marvel (Larson) is a member of the Kree Starforce fighting against the shapeshifting Skrulls in an intergalactic war. A Skrull ambush leads to Vers getting separated from her fellow Kree fighters, led by her mentor Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), and eventually crash-landing on Earth in the year 1995. On the run from the Skrull, who are led by Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), Vers eventually teams up with a young Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and the two search for Dr. Wendy Lawson (Annette Bening), a scientist whose work may not only end the Kree-Skrull War, but hold the key to Vers’ past, which she can’t remember since waking up on the Kree planet Hala six years ago.
Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, Gemma Chan, Rune Temte, Algenis Perez Soto, Mckenna Grace, with Annette Bening, with Clark Gregg, and Jude Law.
Expands to More Cities on 3/15 and 3/22
Robert Mapplethorpe is arguably one of the most important artists of the 20th century. Mapplethorpe discovered himself both sexually and artistically in New York City throughout the 70’s and 80’s. The film depicts Mapplethorpe’s life from moments before he and Patti Smith moved into the famed Chelsea hotel, home to a world of bohemian chic. Here, he begins photographing its inhabitants and his new found circle of friends including artists and musicians, socialites, film stars, and members of the S&M underground. Mapplethorpe’s work displayed eroticism in a way that had never been examined nor displayed before to the public. Exploring the intersection of his art, his sexuality and his struggle for mainstream recognition, MAPPLETHORPE offers a nuanced portrait of an artist at the height of his craft and of the self-destructive impulses that threaten to undermine it all.
Directed by: Ondi Timoner
Cast: Matt Smith, Marianne Rendón, John Benjamin Hickey, Mark Moses, Carolyn McCormick, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Kerry Butler .
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
In Theaters February 22
Dreamworks’ new How to Train Your Dragon movie lives up to the franchise legacy with its third and final installment, The Hidden World. It’s a fun and moving story all about what love looks like, and that feels right.
In The Hidden World, Hiccup, his beloved dragon, Toothless, and his colorful crew send a group of powerful warlords reeling when they rescue a ship full of their dragon cargo. Determined to eliminate the threat, they turn to a famous dragon slayer, a ruthless tyrant named Grimmel. With such a cunning hunter at their doorstep, Hiccup must decide what’s best for his people even if that means risking everything and everyone.
On so many levels, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, just works. Visually, emotionally, this concluding film in Hiccup’s story entertains and enlightens. We watch Hiccup grow into the chief he was destined to become, overcoming enormous obstacles and his personal doubts.
It’s a movie that teaches us the importance of friends and family; the support they can give in trying times can be life-saving. Ultimately, The Hidden World illuminates what real love does.
Director: Dean DeBlois
Writer: Dean DeBlois, based on the books of Cressida Cowell
Producers: Brad Lewis, Bonnie Arnold
Happy Death Day 2U
In Theaters on Wednesday, February 13
Happy Death Day” staring Jessica Rothe as a stuck-up college student who relived the same day over and over again, because at the end of it she always got killed by a psycho in a baby mask before waking right back up at the beginning. The film ended with Rothe’s character, Tree, solving her own murder and waking up on Sept. 19, the day after her deadly time loop, with her new boyfriend Carter (Israel Broussard).
“Happy Death Day 2U” begins at the exact same time, a few blocks away, when Carter’s roommate Ryan (Phi Vu) wakes up, interrupts their pda, and then walks to the college science lab to continue his previously unseen experiments with the “Sisyphus Quantum Cooling Reactor,” or “Sissy” for short.
The invention, which sure has had a lot of unexpected activity lately and gets shut down by the school, and Ryan’s day only gets worse from there, because a killer in a baby mask murders him almost immediately afterward. Ryan wakes up once again on Sept. 19 and tries to tell Carter and Tree about his vivid sense of déjà vu, at which point Tree takes over as only Tree can, with endearing aggravation and a singular sense of humor, laying out the whole plot and grabbing a baseball bat to kick the babyface murderer’s butt.
But the solution to Ryan’s problem takes a very unusual turn, and it sends Tree rocketing back to Sept. 18, pissing her off to no end. But there’s something slightly different this time. Some of the familiar details from “Happy Death Day” have changed, and Carter is now the loving boyfriend of Tree’s sorority sister Danielle (Rachel Matthews), who no longer seems selfish and flaky. Tree is stuck in her old time loop, but now she’s in a parallel dimension, and that poses a whole bunch of brand new questions and problems.
Alita: Battle Angel
In Theaters on Friday, February 14
A project long in the making – visual stunning, astounding battle scenes
Alita: Battle Angel is a special effects marvel that raises the 3D bar. The long awaited film adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s hit Japanese manga is finallly here. The superstar pairing of producer/writer James Cameron and director Robert Rodriguez pushes cinema forward in a new direction. Alita takes place roughly 300 years from now, in the dusty streets of Iron City, a ramshackle junkyard metropolis huddled in the shadow of the flying citadel of Zalem. Ever since a vaguely explained apocalyptic war centuries before, traffic between the two cities is now highly restricted. A kindly doctor named Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz) who specializes in repairing half-human cyborgs using scavenged parts, stumbles across the battered shell of a former robot superweapon, nursing her back to life and naming her Alita (Rosa Salazar) after his late daughter. A born-again innocent initially unaware of her bloodthirsty past, Alita soon starts emoting like a normal human teenager, even developing a crush on handsome young robo junk dealer named Hugo (Keean Johnson). Of course, Alita’s innocence cannot survive her growing awareness of the harsh, violent and cruel world all around her. As she begins to piece together her warrior past, she implores Ido to let her join his shadowy band of cyborg bounty hunters. But Alita has little idea of the danger she faces from Ido’s ex-wife Chiron (Jennifer Connelly) and her Machiavellian new lover, Vector (Mahershala Ali), who control the brutal gladiatorial sports tournament Motorball, in which heavily modified robo-rivals smash each other to pieces on a fast-moving raceway. Both are working for a sinister puppet-master high up in Zalem, who has dark designs on Alita.
In Theaters on Friday, January 18
James McAvoy and the Horde Steal the Show
Glass, which is set several weeks after the conclusion of ‘Split,’ follows David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the protagonist of ‘Unbreakable,’ as he determinedly prowls the streets of Philadelphia. With the help of his son, Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark), who also appeared in the trilogy’s original film, David passionately searches for the man who’s responsible for the recent abductions and murders of local teenage girls.
Meanwhile, Kevin Wendell Crumb (James Mcavoy) and the multiple identities who reside within him do whatever it takes to stay under the radar and not get caught by the police. But after a chance encounter with Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) and officers, both Kevin and David are set to a local facility, the Raven Hill Memorial Psychiatric Research Hospital, which treats mental disorders. The facility also holds Elijah Price, who refers to himself as his alter-ego, Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), and holds secrets critical to both of his fellow patients.
Dr. Staple soon tells all three of her patients that she’s determined to treat them for what she insists is a false belief of being real-world superheros. As the three self-proclaimed superheros then begin to battle back against the people who are trying to repress them, Joseph, as well as Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), the only captive to survive an encounter with Kevin’s most dangerous alter-ego, The Beast, and Elijah’s mother (Charlayne Woodard) all set out to fight the injustices against the men they care about, as well as the evils that are plaguing them.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James Mcavoy, Bruce Willis, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sarah Paulson and Samuel L. Jackson
In Theaters on December 21
‘Bumblebee’ best ‘Transformers’ movie by a so far
Bumblebee kicks off during the war on Cybertron, where Bumblebee (briefly voiced by Dylan O’Brien) and his fellow rebels must flee from the Decepticons. Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) keeps the approaching Decepticon forces distracted so Bumblebee and the other Autobots can escape Cybertron and flee to safe havens around the galaxy. Bumblebee in particular is given the task of heading to Earth and protecting the planet from Decepticons so that the rebels may regroup and eventually regain their home of Cybertron. However, Bumblebee’s arrival on Earth is troubled when he runs across a group of U.S. soldiers led by Jack Burns (John Cena), who immediately orders the Autobot be hunted and destroyed. Then, things get worse when the humans and Bumblebee are attacked by a Decepticon, who destroys Bee’s voice box and damages his memory before being defeated.
After some time, Bumblebee is discovered in his hidden state as a Volkswagen Beetle by the young mechanic Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld). The girl convinces the owner of the garage where Bee is hiding to give her the car, but when she takes the Beetle home, she soon learns there’s more to it than meets the eye. A social outcast among her classmates and distanced from the rest of her family – her mother Sally (Pamela Adlon), step-father Ron (Stephen Schneider) and little brother Otis (Jason Drucker) – Charlie forms a fast friendship with the stranded Autobot, even giving him the name Bumblebee. However, when two Decepticons, Shatter (Angela Bassett) and Dropkick (Justin Theroux), track Bumblebee to Earth, Charlie must help protect Bee and the planet from those that would do them harm.
Directed by Travis Knight (Kubo and the Two Strings) from a script by Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey), Bumblebee returns the Transformers franchise to its grounded roots. The prequel nature of Bumblebee allows the film to ignore the continuity of the previous five movies, and it’s undoubtedly for the best. In a series that has continually rewritten its own history to insert Autobots in Arthurian legend and elsewhere across time, Bumblebee is a breath of fresh air as it focuses more on its core characters than on bigger and badder Transformers or attempting to expand the universe in inorganic ways. Bumblebee is a relatively simple story about a girl and her friend, who just so happens to be a rebel robot fleeing the oppressive faction of his alien race.
CAST: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, Pamela Adlon, Stephen Schneider
In Theaters December 21
Aquaman is a fun popcorn movie for everyone. There’s action, humor, love, loss, huge battles, and even quiet moments, all the things a great superhero film should have, and Aquaman delivers it.
Aquaman picks up shortly after the events of Justice League, with Arthur a reluctant hero who uses his abilities as half-human, half-Atlantean to save those in need of help. In flashback and voiceover, Arthur reveals he’s the son of Queen Atlanna (Nicole Kidman) and lighthouse keeper Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison), who fell in love despite the differences between their worlds. However, Atlanna returned to Atlantis when Arthur was young in order to protect her family, and she was executed by the king after bearing him a son, Arthur’s half-brother, Orm (Patrick Wilson). In the present day, Arthur saves a submarine full of humans from pirates lead by David Kane (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), but when one of the pirates becomes trapped and Arthur has the chance to save him, he refuses making an enemy of David.
Once Arthur returns home, he’s confronted by Princess Mera (Amber Heard), who pleads with him to venture to Atlantis and take his rightful place as its king, preventing Orm from waging war on the surface. Mera and royal vizier Vulko (Willem Dafoe) have found a clue that will lead Arthur to the lost trident of King Atlan, and if Arthur retrieves the weapon, he will wield the power of the seas and be able to take the throne from Orm. Arthur, however, is not enthused by the plan since he wants nothing to do with the kingdom that executed his mother. Meanwhile, Orm is trying to unite the remaining underwater kingdoms with the help of Nereus (Dolph Lundgren), in order to start a war with the surface dwellers. With so many enemies working against him, it’s unclear if Arthur will be able to find Atlan’s trident in time and whether he’ll be worthy to wield it in order to prevent a war.
Starring Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren,
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Ludi Lin, Temuera Morrison, and Nicole
In Theaters on December 21
Second Act is a fun movie with humor and heartwarming moments.
Second Act follows Maya Vargas, a Queens grocery store employee who is fighting for a promotion, right around her 43rd birthday. When she ends up disappointed, losing the position to a college-educated candidate, her godson takes matters into his own hands and uses his millennial smarts to apply Maya for high-ranking jobs in NYC with a fake resume. Maya nabs a position as a consultant with a cosmetics giant, based on her resume that claims she was a Harvard grad, member of the Peace Corp and Estée Lauder employee. So of course, she has to pretend to be all those things, while also proving that she is qualified with the experience we know she has. At her first day on the job, Maya butts heads with her new rival Zoe (Vanessa Hudgens), and the pair are challenged to see which lady can create a profitable, all-organic skin product in the next four months.
While things are looking up for Maya in the working world, she is struggling in her love life, as her near-perfect boyfriend Trey (Milo Ventimiglia), breaks up with her, as he is ready to get married and start a family, and she has her reasons for why she is not. It’s revealed that Maya was pregnant at 16 and gave up her daughter, Sarah, for adoption and has never been able to forgive herself, nor tell her longterm boyfriend about what happened. Her BFF, Joan, played by the hysterical Leah Remini, pushes Maya to tell Trey the truth as she visits Maya at her new Soho apartment, owned by the company. And instead, they go shopping at Barney’s on the business’s dime a cure for all things, especially heartbreak.
After a key development, Zoe and Maya join forces and work together, creating their separate products while supporting each other through it.Second Act explores not only the importance of female friendship and support, but also the love of self.
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Leah Remini and Milo Ventimiglia.
BEN IS BACK
In Theaters December 21
Written/Directed by Peter Hedges, Ben Is Back is a new drama about a son who returns home to his unsuspecting family on one fateful Christmas Eve.
From the moment Ben shows up on the front lawn with nothing but a hoodie and a vape pen, his family is on high alert. Even though the scruffy 19-year-old says that he’s doing great, and that his sponsor encouraged him to go home for the holidays, his sunken eyes tell a different story. Besides, it was only a few months ago that his mom, Holly, found him lying on the staircase with a needle on his arm. And that wasn’t the first time. In fact, as Holly is about to learn the hard way, Ben’s one of the more notorious addicts in town; it seems like there isn’t a junkie within 20 square miles who hasn’t run into him for one reason or another. His wary mother welcomes him but finds that she must do everything in her power to avoid the family’s downfall in the next twenty four hours, for her beloved son who is still very much in harm’s way.
Starring: Julia Roberts, Lucas Hedges, Courtney B. Vance and Kathryn Newton.
Mary Poppins Returns opens in U.S. theaters on December 19, 2018
MARY POPPINS RETURNS is a well-made, adorable, enjoyable, fun movie that the whole family will enjoy The movie has many moments and scenes that are nostalgic to the first movie.
MARY POPPINS RETURNS, set years after the original Disney movie musical, finds Michael Banks and his sister Jane all grown up, and Michael has his own children who are in desperate need of a Nanny. MARY POPPINS RETURNS has a strong moral worldview, with more imagination and less magical thinking, about supporting each other as a family.
After a great song about blessing from above, the movie cuts to Michael and his sister Jane Banks, who are working hard to stay afloat. This has been an especially hard year for Michael and his children, because of the passing of his wife. When the bank shows up to tell Michael he hasn’t paid his loan on the house in several months, he says he’ll pay it off. They tell him that this isn’t acceptable, and the bank needs the entirety of the loan paid off because he was so far behind. Michael is distraught and doesn’t know how he will accomplish this, but Jane reminds him that their father had stock in the Bank, they just must find the missing certificate saying they have the stock.
Shortly after this, when Michael’s children, Anabel, Georgie, and John are walking in the park, Georgie sees a kite that Michael had thrown away and runs after it. Just at that moment, Mary Poppins floats down from the sky with the kite. Mary Poppins tells Michael she will help with the children, while he searches for the bank certificate.
Will Michael be able to find the certificate with the help of Jane? Will the children learn how to use their imagination, instead of being defeated because of the loss of their mother?
In Theaters December 14
Mortal Engines is the film adaptation of Philip Reeve’s popular steampunk young adult novel. It is visually impressive, a huge film loaded with tons of special effects.
Set during the post-apocalyptic future where cities are operated on wheels, the movie follows a partially-disfigured young woman named Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar) and her quest to kill Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaving), the man who responsible for the death of her mother Pandora (Caren Pistorius). But her personal vendetta is unexpectedly sidelined when she got entangled in a bigger scheme involving Thaddeus’ plot to destroy the world with a weaponised machine using centuries-old technology. Soon, Hester joins forces with an aspiring aviator Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan) and the leader of the rebellious Anti-Traction League, Anna Fang (South Korean singer-turned-actress Jihae) to stop Thaddeus at all cost.
Starring: Stephen Lang, Robert Sheehan, Hera Hilmar, Ronan Raftery.
ROMA is Now Available Globally in Theaters and on Netflix
Alfonso Cuarón digs deep into his Mexican childhood with his tribute to the women who raised him.
ROMA is a beautiful portrait of a young woman of Mixteco heritage set in Mexico City during the 1970s. Shot entirely in black and white, and with subtitles in Spanish and Mixtec, the film follows Cleo as she works as a live-in nanny and maid for an upper-middle-class family in the wealthy Colonial Roma district. Throughout the film, Cleo straddles the line between employee and family member, inching closer to the latter as the household unravels when the father abandons the family.
The domestic helper is the heart of the story, who works for the affectionate but occasionally livid Sofia and the rest of her family. Through transfixing long takes that capture the monotony of Cleo’s chores, Cuarón dotingly honors Cleo’s unsung rituals: cleaning, looking after Sofia’s lively four children whom she loves like her own, interacting with her best friend and co-worker Adela, going on movie dates with her self-absorbed, martial-arts-loving boyfriend, and so on.
At first, the lives of Cleo and Sofia run on parallel yet detached lines, save for regular household interactions and cozy evenings jointly spent in front of the TV, where Cleo is treated as part of the family. But when a marital separation and an unwanted pregnancy upset the lives of the two women from different ranks of the social order, their fates cross paths in a real sense for the first time. And, as the world around their newfound female camaraderie slowly crumbles with earthquakes, wildfires, violent political demonstrations and one especially traumatic episode of unimaginable grief, filmed with unwavering empathy Roma’s physical and emotional scope grows and deepens. The movie touches on the political issues of the time, like land disputes and class wars, but without ever losing focus on Cleo, who is played by first-time actor Yalitza Aparicio. In the end, she’s the heart of ROMA.
Cast: Yalitza Aparicio, Marina De Tavira, Jorge Antonio Guerrero Martinez, Diego Cortina Autrey, Carlos Peralta, Daniela Demesa, Marco Graf, Nancy Garcia, Veronica, Garcia, Andy Cortes, Fernando Grediaga.