Film Reviews

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM.

By S.P. – Non-Stop Bloody Action

4/5

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  

The Hustle

By S.P. – Fun Weekend Movie

2/5

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

TOLKIEN

In Theaters May 10

3/5

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.

UglyDolls

In Theaters May 3rd

3/5

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

THE INTRUDER

In Theaters May 3rd

3/5

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

5/5

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.

Cast:

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.

Little

In Theaters April 12

4/5

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.

CAST: Regina Hall, Issa Rae, and introducing Marsai Martin.
Directed by:Tina Gordon
Story by: Tracy Oliver
Screenplay by: Tracy Oliver and Tina Gordon
Produced by:Will Packer, Kenya Barris, James Lopez
Executive Producers: Marsai Martin, Josh Martin, Regina Hall, Preston Holmes

PET SEMATARY

In Theaters April 5

5/5

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.

SHAZAM!

In Theaters April 4

3/5

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.

DUMBO

In Theaters March 29

By S.P. – Disney Classic Returns to the Big Screen

5/5

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.

Cast: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Finley Hobbins, Nico Parker, Roshan Seth, Deobia Oparei, Joseph Gatt, Sharon Rooney

Directed by:Tim Burton

US

In Theaters March 22

By S.P. – Lupita Nyong’o keeps the show running

4/5

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

GLORIA BELL

In Theaters March 22

By S.P. – Stellar Performance by Julianne Moore

5/5

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

By S.P.

5/5

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.

MAPPLETHORPE

Expands to More Cities on 3/15 and 3/22

By S.P.

3/5

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

By S.P.

5/5

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.

CAST: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Craig Ferguson, Kit Harington, and F. Murray Abraham

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

By S.P.

3.5/5

Hilarious Sequel

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

By S.P.

5/5

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.

GLASS

In Theaters on Friday, January 18

By S.P.

3/5

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

BUMBLEBEE

In Theaters on December 21

By S.P.

5/5

‘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

AQUAMAN

In Theaters December 21

By S.P.

4/5

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

SECOND ACT

In Theaters on December 21

By S.P.

3/5

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

By S.P.

5/5

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

By S.P.

5/5

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?

Cast: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, introducing Joel Dawson with Colin Firth and Meryl Streep.

MORTAL ENGINES

In Theaters December 14

By S.P.

3/5

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

ROMA is Now Available Globally in Theaters and on Netflix

By S.P.

4.5/5

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.