Archive for category Reviews

Movie Mayhem – Incredibles 2

Incredibles 2

Incredibles 2 — 2018; Directed by Brad Bird; Starring the voices of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell, Huck Milner, Catherine Keener, Bob Odenkirk, Sophia Bush and Samuel L. Jackson

When The Incredibles first made their way to the big screen in 2004, I really enjoyed it, as I do all Pixar movies, but I didn’t seem to appreciate it the same way I did  films like Toy Story and Finding Nemo. I’m not sure what it was, but there was something about it that didn’t quite click. Over the years, though, after several repeat viewings, the film has grown on me more, and I can appreciate what writer/director Brad Bird was able to accomplish. Fourteen years later, Bird returns with Incredibles 2, the long-awaited sequel to his superhero love song. Can it live up to what many fans of the original have been clamoring for? Or has the magic worn off due to the length of time it took to finally get this film off the ground? In many ways, it may be a little of both. Read Full Review

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Movie Mayhem – Hotel Artemis

HotelArtemis

Hotel Artemis — 2018; Directed by Drew Pearce; Starring Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Charlie Day, Sofia Boutella, Dave Bautista and Jeff Goldblum

Don’t be fooled by high-caliber casts. When the advertising for a film focuses heavily on the well-known, and in some cases, incredibly talented actors, it doesn’t necessarily equate to a particularly good film. Case in point — Movie 43. This 2013 film boasted about its extremely big names that all came together to have a good laugh. The end result, though, was a disgusting mess of a film that had almost zero laughs, took their premises way too far, and didn’t know what to do with their all-star talent. I can’t say that Hotel Artemis is near as bad as Movie 43, but it spends so much time lamenting over the caliber of its cast, that it completely forgets to give any of the characters or the plot any meaningful substance. Read Full Review

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Movie Mayhem – Beast

Beast

Beast — 2018; Directed by Michael Pearce; Starring Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, Geraldine James, Shannon Tarbet, and Trystan Gravelle

Occasionally, it’s good to cleanse the blockbuster palette with a smaller movie that you’ve never heard of before, never saw a trailer for, and don’t know any of the actors involved. Sometimes, these types of movies can be brilliant pieces of thought-provoking art; other times, they’re mind-numbing snooze-fests. Beast, a British import filmed in and around the UK and distributed across the pond in 2017 (and originally titled Jersey Affair), falls somewhere between these two extremes. It has some very quiet, eloquent moments that keep you invested in the mystery that surrounds the plight of the characters, and yet, because its pace can be a bit on the slow side, and its message so subtle as to become confusing, it’s far more frustrating than exhilarating. Read Full Review

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Movie Mayhem – Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo

Solo: A Star Wars Story — 2018; Directed by Ron Howard; Starring Alden Ehrenreich, Jonnas Suotamo, Paul Bettany, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Donald Glover

From the initial announcement that Han Solo was going to be given the standalone treatment, the film has been plagued with problems, both small (common, routine re-shoots) and large (replacing original directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord with iconic filmmaker Ron Howard). This news spurred the fires that the production was troubled and that the final product would be a complete mess. I never believed that; Ron Howard is too smart a filmmaker to let things fall apart under his watch. It’s said that Lord and Miller believed they were making a comedy, and though I respect their vision, I don’t think Han Solo is the right character for that. Yes, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) is a sarcastic smart-ass who doesn’t take a whole lot seriously, but to put him at the center of a comedy, I believe, would have turned Han into a joke and diluted the essence of the universe as a whole. Read Full Review

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Movie Mayhem – Life of the Party

Life of the Party

Life of the Party — 2018; Directed by Ben Falcone; Starring Melissa McCarthy, Molly Gordon, Gillian Jacons, Debby Ryan, Adria Arjona, Maya Rudolph, Julie Bowen and Stephen Root

I’ll say it – I’m not the biggest fan of Melissa McCarthy. Though I like her physicality and fearlessness, for me, she can come off as stubbornly obnoxious and loud, which can become grating, especially when she forces her brand to extreme heights. What helps keep everything balanced is a good supporting cast. When everyone around her is just like her, things can go off the rails real quick; when they are the complete opposite, or more subtle and subdued, it allows the audience a chance to breathe every once in a while. It’s sometimes easy to see which category the cast will fall based on the trailer, but other times, it’s not so clear, so I always keep my hopes on the lower end of the spectrum whenever going into one of her films. Luckily, McCarthy chose to tone everything around her down in Life of the Party, her newest team-up with director/husband Ben Falcone, making what could have been an insufferable noise fest into a sweet, funny slice-of-life comedy. Read Full Review

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Movie Mayhem – The Miracle Season

One player does not a team make.

TheMiracleSeason

The Miracle Season — 2018; Directed by Sean McNamara; Starring Erin Moriarty, Helen Hunt, William Hurt, Burkley Duffield and Danika Yarosh

But one player can have a major effect on the moral of a team, and for the 2011 Iowa City West High School volleyball team, that person was Caroline “Line” Found. When I first saw the previews for the The Miracle Season, I couldn’t help but think back to We Are Marshall, another inspirational sports film that saw a team and a community rise up among a major tragedy. The difference is that with Marshall, almost the entire starting lineup of the school’s football team perished in a place crash, so it would seem it would take a lot more to find the strength to rebuild a successful team than it would had only one player died. However, according to director Sean McNamara, Line was a spark plug — someone who lived life with no regrets and no filter; a young girl that had an amazing life ahead of her only to be cut short because of one simple mistake. It doesn’t matter that she was a single person, her presence alone elevated everyone around her, so when an accident took her away from those who looked to her for light, for them that was all it took to slip into darkness. Read Full Review

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Movie Mayhem – Ready Player One

ReadyPlayerOne

Ready Player One — 2018; Directed by Steven Spielberg; Starring Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Rylance, Lena Waithe, and Simon Pegg

I’ve never read Ready Player One, the pop-culture-heavy book written by Ernest Cline (who shares credit on the screenplay with Zak Penn) for which the film is based, but when it was announced that Steven Spielberg would helm the big-budget adaptation, excitement hit 88 miles per hour. In most people’s minds (and hearts), Spielberg is the quintessential sc-fi/fantasy director of the eighties, so to have him direct a movie that would incorporate so many beloved references — a lot of which he himself had a hand in bringing to life — was a film lover’s dream come true. As time passed, though, and the anticipation wore off, some began to wonder: could Spielberg, who had grown more accustomed to heavy adult material in the past two decades (and failed to deliver on his fantasy adaptation of the beloved children’s story, The BFG) pull off the same magic he was able to deliver back in the heyday of what this respectable critic deems the best era of film, music and gaming? The answer to that question has been answered, and I’m happy to say it is a resounding — Yes he can. Read Full Review

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Movie Mayhem – Midnight Sun

MidnightSun

Midnight Sun — 2018; Directed by Scott Speer; Starring Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Rob Riggle and Quinn Shephard

When I initially heard about Midnight Sun, the first thing that came to mind was last year’s Everything, Everything, which also included a young teenage girl trapped in her house because of some rare disease. One major difference between the two films is that in the latter film, the main character couldn’t step outside at all due to a failed immune system, whereas in the former, Katie (Bella Thorne) can go outside, but only at night, since any contact with the sun will basically kill her. Both films dissect the idea of how much a life a person can actually have when they’re all but trapped in their home, and wrap that idea around a convenient love story, in which the girl falls in love with the cutest guy on the block, who just so happens to find them to be beautifully captivating. Read Full Review

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Movie Mayhem – I Can Only Imagine

ICanOnlyImagine

I Can Only Imagine — 2018; Directed by Andrew and Jon Erwin; Starring J. Michael Finley, Dennis Quaid, Trace Adkins and Madeline Carroll

Art in all of its forms has the ability to invoke emotion, transport you to a different time and of course inspire. But art is also subjective; not everything is going to affect the same audience in the same way, and not all artists will find an audience at all. Yet, no matter how many people tell someone to give up, a true artist — one who believes in their work and in the message they are trying to convey through their art — will never let anyone keep them from speaking their mind or pursuing their dreams. As an artist myself, I know my passion isn’t about fame, money or power; it’s about speaking a truth among a sea of voices reaching out to convey their own truths — their own souls. I also know that it only takes one moment, one song, one book, one movie to pull you from obscurity and into the public consciousness.

For Mercy Me, one of the most famous Christian rock bands of the 21st Century, that song was lead singer Bart Millard’s “I Can Only Imagine,” which took not only Christian radio by storm, but the world with its honest, inspiring lyrics, opening doors for the band that had all but been closed to them before. Read Full Review

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Movie Mayhem – A Wrinkle In Time

WrinkleInTime

A Wrinkle In Time — 2018; Directed by Ava DeVernay; Starring Storm Reid, Chris Pine, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Levi Miller and Daric McCabe

Sometimes I feel guilty when a movie comes out and I haven’t read the book it’s based on; sort of like a kid in school forgoing the book to watch the movie for a book report. Sometimes it can be better not to have read the book first, as the book is almost always  “better” than the movie. Not only do books allow for deeper exploration into why and how characters do what they do and the environments that surround them, but what’s produced on screen usually can’t compare to what you imagined on your own. At the same time, films can wind up being just as entertaining as their written counterparts, even as they alter or cut elements for time. In the case of A Wrinkle In Time, Disney’s new adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s fantastical book, having seen the movie without having read the book somehow makes me feel I’m missing something — as if there’s a secret in the book that didn’t transfer to the big screen. Read Full Review

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