Keith
Keith
3:00pm - 6:00pm
Classics with the Classic

Extra Butter with Bart Wilson presented by Tiffin Drive-In Theater

Civil War

A small group of media members work their way through a dystopian America to the White House in Alex Garland’s Civil War.

 

In this film, we follow war photographer Lee (Kirsten Dunst) with journalists Joel (Wagner Moura) and Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson). Jessie (Cailee Spaeny), a young and inspired photographer, joins Lee as her inspiration for entering the media industry. The group’s goal is to make it to Washington D.C. to interview the President of the United States (Nick Offerman) before the Western Forces attack the White House and remove the third term President. As they make their way to the capital, you only get bits and pieces of why states have succeeded from the United States and started a civil war. You learn that the Western Forces are a military group that resulted from a Texas and California alliance. As the characters travel to the capital, you witness the horrors of war between American citizens. Lee tutors Jessie about the ins and outs of war photography along the way to prepare her for the insanity that will ensue once they reach Washington D.C.

 

Words really can’t describe how disappointed I am after watching this film. From start to finish, I just wanted the film to be over. The story was extremely vague, the acting was stale, and the only thing that made it somewhat interesting was the action. I’m not sure what Garland was going for with this film, but I feel like he completely missed the mark. He could have made something that was impactful and meaningful, but it was just mindless cinema. I mean Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire had a more impactful message than Civil War, and that is saying something. I don’t know why some people are saying this is one of Garland’s best films to date. He directed 28 Days Later and Ex Machina, and they were both far superior to this film.

 

Overall, I don’t recommend seeing this film in theaters. I’m not sure I would even want to spend money on renting it once it hits streaming services. Wait until it is completely free if you want to watch it. If you think you’re missing out on some phenomenon by not seeing it, don’t worry – you’re not. Trust me.

 

Rating: 2 out 5

Monkey Man

Making his directorial debut is Dev Patel with a gruesome story about revenge, real world issues in India, and Indian religion with Monkey Man

 

We find Patel's character, Kid, fighting at an underground club where he is known as Monkey Man. The name originates from a religious figure called Hanuman, which he learned about from his mother as a child. By taking on this persona, Kid plans to exact his revenge on the people who murdered his mother and burned his village to the ground. To execute his plan, he must first gain access to the building where the people responsible meet. He does this by getting a job as a servant and then gradually works his way up the ladder to come face to face with his enemies. To see their downfall, he will need to learn about the ways of the Monkey Man.

 

I really enjoyed this film on many levels - the story, the cinematography, and the acting. It made you feel a wide variety of emotions which in my opinion is very important when watching any film. It pulls at all the heartstrings when it needs to, but then increases your blood pressure when the all-out brawl breaks out. Each scene felt necessary to the narrative of the film making it an enjoyable viewing experience. The cinematography was well done for the fight sequences giving them a very realistic feel. The camera was shaky throughout, but that brought a sense of realness to the fights. Now, if you have a history of motion sickness, I do not recommend you seeing this film (I'm not kidding). Other than that, I really enjoyed Patel's all out performance and his ability to embody the Monkey Man.

 

The supporting cast did a good job too. The villains in this film were unredeemable and you wanted to see them get taken down. An issue I had with the film was at times the dialogue between actors was difficult to hear. This took me out of the viewing experience sometimes. I felt the same way during some of the action sequences. You didn't really feel the effect of how hard some of the hits were when Patel went on a complete rampage. When I see films that rely on hand-to-hand combat, I need to feel the impact of the punches and hits to keep me invested. 

 

With that being said, I really enjoyed my time watching this film. I think Patel has a bright future directing more feature films, and I will be looking forward to seeing what he does next. If you want to add some excitement to your weekend, I highly suggest seeing this in theaters at least once. The story is great, and the fight sequences are worth the cost of admission. 

 

Rating 4 out of 5

 

  

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

Prepare yourself for destruction and monster mayhem with Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. Bringing these two characters back to the big screen is Adam Wingard who directed Godzilla vs. Kong back in 2021.

 

The film takes place a couple of years after the matchup between Godzilla, Kong, and Mecha Godzilla. We find Kong living out his days in Hollow Earth searching for his own species and really a sense of belonging. While Kong continues his search, we find Godzilla traveling around the world defeating various Titans and building up his power level for some odd reason. We are re-introduced to returning human characters from the last film with Ilene Andrews (Rebecca Hall) who oversees Kong for Monarch, Bernie Hayes (Brian Tyree Henry) a conspiracy theorist podcaster, and Jia (Kaylee Hottle) who is the last descendant of the Iwi tribe that worships Kong on Skull Island. The newest addition is Trapper (Dan Stevens) who plays the veterinarian for Kong. These four characters will team up to learn about a new threat in Hollow Earth called the Skar King. Skar King leads a group of species like Kong to find one of the portals that leads to the surface and rule over all of Earth. To prevent this outcome Kong will need to team up with Godzilla to prevent the end of Hollow Earth and humanity.

 

This film from start to finish is straightforward. You don’t need to do a lot of thinking or be emotionally invested. It’s just one big monster fighting another big monster with a sprinkled in plot that really doesn’t mean a whole lot. On top of that, the newest character, Trapper, seemed to have all the answers to help move the plot forward, but didn’t. The same goes for the overall storyline the humans deal with when helping Godzilla and Kong with the fight against Skar King. Speaking of Scar King, I had some high hopes but in the end that character just flopped. I wanted to be fearful of him but really, he was just there to be a punching bag for Godzilla and Kong. There wasn’t any real threat except the destruction of a lot of cities with massive casualties. I just find it difficult to watch these types of films and be invested when I know it’s going to be a slugfest with no real storyline that is worthwhile. In my opinion, Godzilla Minus One is a far superior film and has a human storyline that pulls at your heartstrings.

 

Overall, this film had some good action sequences, but the story and villain are very bland to say the least. You might want to see it once in a theater to experience it on the large screen with theater sound. If you have a good sound system and large TV at home, then watch it there when it’s available to rent.

 

Rating: 3 out of 5

Five Nights at Freddy's

This loveable and terrifying video game finally hit the big screen over the weekend with Five Nights at Freddy’s.

The main protagonist of the film is Mike (Josh Hutcherson) has been trying to stay above water by supporting his younger sister Abbey (Piper Rubio) as her guardian. It’s been somewhat difficult for him to keep a job due to unresolved trauma from when his younger brother was kidnapped on a camping trip. While dealing with that his unflattering aunt has been trying to take custody of Abbey. With all this pent-up stress and aggression Mike loses another job forcing him to head to a career service center. Career Counselor, Steve Raglan (Matthew Lillard), offers Mike the opportunity to be the night security guard at a once popular kids pizza place, which turns out to be Freddy Fazzbears Pizzeria. The store closed back in the 80’s due to the disappearances of several children and since then new security guards have been hired to keep the public out. To help Mike make sure the public is safe from Freddy’s is police officer Vanessa (Elizabeth Lail). The only question Mike has is “Why are they trying to keep the public out?” Well, that answer might lie within the ominous animatronic characters that have never been removed from the establishment. While Mike gets to learn more about Freddy, Foxy, Bonnie, and Chica he’ll also get closer to the truth about what happened to his younger brother all those years ago. The only thing he’ll have to do is survive the night.

Talk about an interesting premise for a film that deals with killer animatronics. I thought that the story was going to delve deeper into the pizzeria lore, but instead it was solely focused on Mike. I didn’t think it was a bad idea to go in that direction but by doing so it took a lot of air out of the horror aspect of the film. Never once was I on the edge of my seat, had an increased heart rate, or had to shield my eyes due to the suspense factor of the film. This was more about dealing with trauma and how to get past it while dealing with killer animatronics in the background. Now, the animatronics were cool looking, but not scary. I think the producers for this film had many different ideas about what they wanted and kind of blended it all together and got this film. I thought the acting was fine and the production value was fantastic, but I just needed more horror for such an extremely popular horror video game.

If you want to see this film do not waste your hard-earned cash on it. Try to watch it on Peacock if you have that streaming service or wait until it is free to watch. Plus, if you are looking for a good scare this is not the film to watch.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Killers of the Flower Moon

Director Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon hit theaters over the weekend shining light on a story that many people might have not known about.

The story is set on a Native American reserve, in Oklahoma, occupied by the Osage tribe who discovered oil on the land back in the late 1800’s. We are then introduced to Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), a soldier returning from World War I, to meet up with his Uncle William Hale (Robert De Niro). Hale is a popular figure on the reserve where many natives trust him based on his ability to speak their language and be very hospitable to everyone’s needs. What the Osage doesn’t know is that he is plotting against them to take their land all out of greed. So, when Burkhart wants to start his life on the reserve, his uncle wants him to marry an Osage woman to claim the money she makes off the oil. This is why many white men moved to the area - to marry Osage women. Burkhart meets Mollie (Lily Gladstone) while running his taxi service and truly falls in love with her. They end up getting married, but this is when everything begins to take a dark turn. One by one Mollie’s sisters begin to be mysteriously murdered making her paranoid that she could be next. It doesn’t help either that she has been severely ill while taking insulin to deal with her diabetes. To figure out who is committing the murders the Osage make their way to Washington D.C. to plea with President Coolidge to send help. That’s when a federal investigator, Tom White (Jesse Plemons), is sent by J. Edgar Hoover to the reserve. Can they figure out what is really happening at the reserve? Or will these murders go unsolved?

I think this might be one of Scorsese’s best pieces of cinema to date. From the cinematography to the story, it is a spectacle. It is truly a heartbreaking story in American history that few people know about. Scorsese did a great job building the whole story and providing a sense of satisfaction in the end. I thought the acting was a force of triumph that helped with the story. DiCaprio, in my opinion, might have had his best performance since The Revenant. De Niro did an amazing job bringing real life villain, William Hale, to life. Gladstone might be a candidate for best actress in a motion picture this year, because her presence on screen was so enthralling. The rest of the cast was also great because they made it feel like you were in Oklahoma in the 1920’s when this was all happening. My only quarrel with the film was the run time which clocks in at three and a half hours. I could sense that Scorsese really put his all into this film, but the run time did wear me down a bit.

All in all, Killers of the Flower Moon is must see cinema. I highly recommend seeing this at least once in theaters to get that big screen experience. This will be nominated for many awards this year and it should be. This is one of the best movies of the year.

Rating: 4 out 5

The Exorcist: Believer

Blumhouse Productions resurrects one of the most iconic horror films of all time by adding a sequel to it with The Exorcist: Believer. Directed by David Gordon Green who is best known for the recent Halloween trilogy.

This sequel follows a photographer, Victor Fielding (Leslie Odom Jr.), as he tries to work and be a single parent to his 13-year-old daughter Angela (Lidya Jewett). Victor’s daughter is somewhat of a miracle child. Her mother passed away during childbirth due to a natural disaster that happened when the couple was on vacation. We are then introduced to Lydia’s friend from school Katherine (Olivia O’Neill). As the two meet at school, they come up with a plan to go into the woods next to the school and attempt to reach out to the other side to see if Lydia can connect with her mother. Instead, something far more sinister answers and possesses both of them. Now, Victor must team up with multiple religious figures and Katherine’s parents to save the children. Victor also receives help from Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) who dealt with the same kind of issue back in the 1970s when her daughter, Regan, became possessed. Can Victor save his daughter? Or will it be too late?

Let me start off by saying this film is not worth your time. It hurts to say that, but it is the complete truth. There was nothing in this film that made me jump out of my seat form pure terror. It felt uninspired from start to finish and when everything was done, I just sat in my seat and thought, “That was it?”. The acting was subpar to say the least and sometimes very comical when it wasn’t trying to be. I didn’t feel any emotional connections to the characters because they all felt like they were playing one specific note. There was no range in emotions that made me feel what they were feeling. Now, let’s talk about the story. It was a very simplistic plot that really didn’t focus on the exorcist part of the film. That doesn’t happen until the very end. When you have the name “exorcist” in the title I feel like that should be the whole plot of the movie. Don’t just throw it in at the end and call it good. Then you add in the special effects that were mostly all CGI and felt like you were watching a video game.

So, what is my final verdict? I think you get the picture but to make it clearer do not see this film. It was a let down for anyone that enjoys the horror genre and a let down for anybody that enjoys the original Exorcist. If you want a quality horror film to watch about exorcisms, then just rent the original. Do not waste your money on this film.

 

Rating: 1 out of 5

The Creator

A world where humans and robots with artificial intelligence co-exist makes for an interesting plot in The Creator. Directed by Gareth Edwards, best known for Rogue Ones a Star Wars Story, The Creator brings a fresh take in the Sci-Fi genre.

 

In the year 2055 artificial intelligence destroys Los Angeles with a nuclear bomb. Now, the U.S. government is trying to erase its creation from existence to keep the world safe. There plan is to send someone undercover to assassinate the person still creating AI in New Asia, Nirmata. Enter Sergeant Joshua Taylor (John David Washington) who goes undercover to find Nirmata by marrying his daughter Maya (Gemma Chan). Taylor’s cover is blown when the army shows up exposing him and ending his marriage by killing his wife. Years after the traumatic experience Colonel Howell (Allison Janney) asks for Taylor’s help to find a weapon that can take down the space station NOMAD (North American Orbital Mobile Aerospace Defense) because of its ability to execute fatal aerial strikes. Taylor decides to help when learning that his wife may possibly be alive after seeing video footage from the government. While breaching the facility to get the weapon, he learns that the threat is just a child. He later names her Alphie (Madeleine Yuna Voyles). Now, he must make the choice of taking out the threat or protecting the weapon and use it to find his wife. The only problem is that the whole U.S. government is coming after him.

 

We have gone through many years where originality has been hard to come by when it comes to movies. A lot of films are either superhero stories, reboots, or knock off films of other films. This film feeds off different ideas of other popular movies, but it still has its own identity which differentiates it from other Sci-Fi films. The story wasn’t anything new, but the world is what makes the story unique. I felt like the Colonel Howell character was unnecessary, but her character did represent the government doing whatever it takes to take this weapon. The relationship between Washington and Voyles was sensational and will pull at your heart strings until the very end. If that chemistry between those two didn’t work the film would suffer. The CGI in this film may be some of the best I have seen in a while. The robots felt so real especially with the design of New Asia. You really feel like this type of society could exist in the next 50 years or so. It was done so well.

 

The overall verdict is that we now have a new Sci-Fi film that is our modern 2001 Space Odyssey. I think Gareth Edwards has a unique take on this genre and I hope we see more movies like this moving forward. I highly recommend seeing this in theaters and buying this on Blu Ray or 4K.

 

Rating: 4 out 5

A Haunting in Venice

The world-renowned detective Hercule Poirot is back in A Haunting in Venice. Directed by and starring in the lead role as the detective is Kenneth Branagh. This is the third installment of the series based on the Agatha Christie novels.

 

In this new installment, Detective Poirot is living quietly in Venice while enjoying retirement from detective work. That’s until an old friend, Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey), who is a mystery novel writer finds Poirot and asks him to join her in a seance. The séance takes place on Halloween at an orphanage turned into a home where a grieving mother, Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly), wants to reconnect with her deceased daughter who jumped out of a window due to being haunted by the spirits of orphans that once lived in that house. Running the séance is Mrs. Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh) who is attempting to connect with Rowena’s daughter. Joining the late-night event is Rowena’s daughter’s doctor Leslie Ferrier (Jamie Dorna), the maid Olga Seminoff (Camille Cottin), the doctor’s son Leopold Ferrier (Jude Hill), and Poirot’s security guard Vitale Portfoglio (Riccardo Samarcio). As the séance is happening Poirot can piece together the fake spiritual occurrences until something unexplained happens. This then makes Poirot question if the afterlife exists. While reflecting on this, a murder is committed. Poirot must now shut down the house to figure out who the murderer is, but was the murder committed by someone at the séance or was it one of the deceased orphans?

 

Right off the bat this film is a lot better than the past two films. The other films felt very flat and predictable. In this film the first murder happens, and you really have no idea who did it. The whole reason why you just don’t know is because of the spiritual aspect to the story. The film makes you believe that maybe one of the spirits did commit the murder because of what happens during the séance. I think that was done very well. I did like the environment they were in with all the darkened hallways, and everything was lit by candlelight. It makes the home feel like a haunted house and the architecture of the home adds more creepiness to the story. Now, is this a horror film? No, this is not a horror film but there are jump scares throughout. So, if you did bring someone that’s 13 years old you don’t need to worry about possibly traumatizing them at the theater. I think the acting in this was well done by everyone, but I wasn’t a big fan with how fast the movie went by. I felt like the movie needed thirty more minutes to really expand on the mystery of the murder, but the reveal at the end was shocking.

 

I did find myself having a good time watching this film, especially at the theater. I think you should see this at least once in theaters to really get the full experience of what the film offers. Especially with Halloween right around the corner, this would be a good movie to start the spooky season off with.

 

Rating: 3.5 out 5

The Nun II

Valak returns to wreak havoc on an all-girl boarding school in France with The Nun II. Directed by Michael Chaves best known for The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It and The Curse of La Llorona.

 

The film takes us back to 1956 France when a priest is murdered through a heinous act that serves as a warning to the Vatican of Valak’s return. Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) is tasked with finding this demon once more and defeating it for good. Joining her along the way is Sister Debra (Storm Reid) who watches out for Irene in case she is in trouble. Popping back up from the first film is Maurice (Jonas Bloquet) who helped Irene defeat Valak in the first film. The only issue is Maurice is possessed by the demon and he is torturing an all-girl boarding school without realizing it. Irene will eventually learn about why Valak is at this school and what the demon intends to do.

 

We are once again sent back to The Conjuring universe in The Nun II. I had a way better time watching this film compared to the first one. I think that the story had a lot more beef compared to its counterpart that relied on jump scares the whole time. The jump scares in the new film were done a lot better than the first one. They really packed a punch, and the gore and intensity were brought up a notch showing how powerful Valak really is. The acting was a lot better as well.

The last film felt very mellow dramatic and not realistic. I felt the anguish of the characters when dealing with this psychotic demon. Now, the story was a tad predictable at times which took me out of the film sometimes. There was less CGI done in this film than the first, but I still don’t like seeing CGI in horror films. It must be done well for me to stay interested. I also felt like the detective aspect of the story was done way too fast to just fast forward the movie to the final act.

 

So, what is the final verdict on this film? Well, I would say if you’re an avid horror movie fan that you should see this in theaters at least once. If you want to just scare your friend that hates horror movies wait until it comes out on digital and do it, then. This is also perfect timing for Halloween. It’s a good sub average film that can give all the scares of a typical horror film with a little uniqueness to it.

 

Rating: 3 out 5

Strays

A rag tag group of dogs embark on a journey of revenge and comedic mischief in Strays which is an R rated version of Homeward Bound.

 

The film follows a dog named Reggie (Will Ferrell) as plans to get revenge on his owner, Doug (Will Forte), for abandoning him because he doesn’t really love him. Reggie teams up with Bug (Jamie Foxx), Maggie (Isla Fisher), and Hunter (Randall Parker) who all agree to help him. While making the journey back to his owner’s home Reggie will learn about what it’s like to be a stray dog with the help of fellow stray Bug. He’ll also learn about the importance of friendship and knowing his worth. While learning all this the group will find themselves in some sticky situations that are action packed to disturbing.

 

What can I say about this film? This is not a film that you would want to bring your kids to. From the very beginning to the very end, it has extremely raunchy from jokes in certain scenes that take place. The story is very straight forward, and a lot of the comedy seemed somewhat familiar from other R rated films I have seen over the years. There were some moments where I laughed out loud, but most of the time I wasn’t that engaged. I think the selling point of the film is the adorable dogs that have famous people voicing them as they just act completely immature. Sometimes that works for certain films, but this was a film that didn’t do that in a clever way.

 

I wouldn’t waste your money on this film by either seeing it in theater, renting it digitally, or buying it on DVD. This is one of those films you could wait two years to find it on a streaming service for free and then watch it. Just make sure you don’t let any children watch it.

 

Rating 2 out of 5

 

Gran Turismo

Sony’s new film Gran Turismo directed by Neil Blomkamp is based on a true story that puts a racing gamer in a car on the actual racetrack.

 

The film follows Jann Mardenborough (Archie Madekwe) who is an avid gamer addicted to the game Gran Turismo. His father finds his interest in gaming an issue because he won’t be able to make a living off that lifestyle. Well, Mardenborough’s luck changes when the marketing director of Nissan, Danny Moore (Orlando Bloom), offers him the chance to compete with other Gran Turismo gamers to become a real race car driver. Mardenborough beats out the other gamers and becomes the face of Nissan racing. We then follow Mardenborough through his first couple of races as he is coached by former driver Jack Slater (David Harbour). Will Mardenborough succeed and make his way to the podium? Or will he crash and burn in the end?

 

I had a somewhat enjoyable time watching this film. I say somewhat, because the thing that really sold the movie for me were the race sequences with Madekwe and Harbour’s acting. Outside of that the film had some generic storytelling where the father disapproves Jann’s lifestyle and then there’s a love interest that felt unnecessary to the story. The whole plot with his family felt pointless because we see his family at the beginning of the film and then they show back up at the very end. So, when it got to an emotional part between Jann and his dad, I felt nothing because this is basically the first time we see him since the beginning of the movie. Other than those issues I think the racing sequences were well done from the cinematography to the dialogue between Jann and Jack. I think Blomkamp did a great job making the viewer feel like they’re a part of the race too.

 

Aside from the romantic interest and family storyline the racing part of the story was well done. The video effects, cinematography, dialogue, and the racing sequences were engaging and felt like a video game. Do I recommend seeing this in theaters? No, I think you can wait for this to come out on streaming and check it out then. I do recommend watching it at least once.

 

Rating: 3 out of 5

 

Blue Beetle

The DC Universe is back again with the new superhero movie Blue Beetle directed by Angel Manuel Soto.

 

In the film, Jaime Reyes (Xolo Mariduena), a recent college graduate, receives a device called the Scarab from Jenny Kord (Bruna Maquezine), the daughter of Ted Kord and former head of Kord Industries. Jaime is tasked to keep this hidden from Jenny’s aunt, Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon), who seeks to use this device to create super soldiers. Even though Jenny tells Jaime not to mess with the Scarab, he does anyway. In doing so, the device activates and fuses to Jamie’s body, turning him into the Blue Beetle. Victoria sends mercenary Carapax, also known as The Indestructible Man, from Kord Industries to hunt Jamie down. He will need the help of his family and especially his tech savvy uncle, Rudy Reyes (Mario Lopez), to take down Kord Industries.

 

I really enjoyed watching this movie over the weekend. The action sequences were a lot of fun and the comedy was great. It felt like I was watching a phase one Marvel movie set in the DC Universe. This is very weird to say because a lot of DC films are a little darker and grittier than Marvel. I think Mariduena did an excellent job as Jaime and the Blue Beetle. I thought he was the perfect choice to play this character and hopefully we will see more of him in the future. The other big takeaway for me was how the Reyes family is the focal point of the film. I think Soto did a great job of showing this family that is struggling on all ends of the spectrum, but they never give up. You also feel you’re a part of the family throughout the movie. So, when something emotional happens, you’ll feel the same way the family feels. I think the story and characters were written exceptionally well to portray the family aspect, which is a big testament of the movie. Other than that, the film seems a tad generic for the superhero storyline, and that the villains were uninspired. It seemed like they really wanted this to be about the family and then have the villains sprinkled in to create some tension.

 

Overall, this is a movie that families should see in theaters. Not because it’s a superhero film, but because it is a movie about a family that must deal with adversity. A lot of families go through similar situations (minus the superhero part) that can be relatable. I think you’ll have a fun time with a lot of laughs and some moments that will leave you in “awe.” Check this film out at least once in theaters.

 

Rating: 3.7 out 5

The Last Voyage of the Demeter

Bram Stoker’s Dracula chapter “The Captain’s Log” comes to the big screen with The Last Voyage of the Demeter directed by André Øvredal.

 

The main protagonist is Clemens (Corey Hawkins) who is seeking help to get back to London because he could not get a job as a doctor due to the color of his skin. While Clemens seeks a ride back to London the story also follows Captain Elliot (Liam Cunningham) as he lets his first mate, Wojeck (David Dastmalchian), know that this will be his last voyage. This will be a voyage the captain will want to forget. The voyage will take the crew from Romania to London with multiple unmarked crates. As the ship sails, the crew’s livestock is slaughtered, and an unidentified woman is found inside one of the crates with bite marks all over her. You soon learn that the woman is Anna (Aisling Franciosi), and she lets the crew know that a being called “Dracula” is on the boat with them. As the four-week voyage continues the crew will have to work together to kill Dracula before they take port in London. The only question is will they be able to survive the last voyage of the Demeter?

 

I found myself really liking this film even though I was hesitant before seeing it. This movie easily could have been the typical scary movie where you anticipate all the scares and even the outcome of the film. Instead, I found myself on the edge of my seat in fear of what would happen to the crew next. I thought the cast did a really good job with their performances. The design of Dracula was great and some of it seemed practical while most of it was CGI. The film also did a great job of making you think you could see Dracula in the background. Sometimes he was, but then there were moments when the effect just played on your imagination. The only quarrels I had with the film were with the character of Anna because it felt like she served one purpose and that was it. It also plays off some movies I am familiar with like Alien for example. This takes away from the movie because it’s just the same story in a different time.

 

The film wasn’t 100% perfect, but I did find myself having a great time. I would watch this again when October rolls around because this has Halloween vibes to it. You can go see this in theater, but I think it would also be okay to wait for it to come out on streaming services.

 

Rating: 3.7 out 5

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

It's time to venture down into the sewers below New York City for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.” Bringing the turtles back to the big screen are directors Jeff Rowe and Kyler Spears.

 

The film follows the adventures of the four teenage turtles Leonardo (Nicolas Cantu), Raphael (Brady Noon), Michaelangelo (Shamon Brown Jr.), and Donatello (Micah Abbey). They live with their father Splinter (Jackie Chan) who is a rat. He taught the turtles to be ninjas to defend themselves from humans. The story deals with the turtles trying to be accepted by society. Along the way the turtles become friends with student news reporter April O'Neil (Ayo Edebiri) who helps them do just that. As luck would have it, a mutant named Superfly (Ice Cube) has teamed up with other mutants to build a device to turn every animal into a mutant and take over the world from the humans. All the turtles need to do is take down Superfly, get it on tape and then humans will love them. That should be easy right?

 

I just want to say right off the bat that the animation in this film is spectacular. It looks like someone decided to draw a picture with crayons and then put it in motion. It makes the movie different than any other animated feature I've ever seen. To add to that, the four actors that play the turtles were a pleasant surprise. I thought each actor gave a different performance that made the characters unique. They flowed well with each other, and they really made you feel like these turtles are brothers. The action was spectacular and the comedy that was written in was great. I would think Seth Rogen would take some credit on that because he helped write and produce the film. I did enjoy the story, but it is a story I have seen many times in other movies. .

 

Overall, this film is a funny, action packed, heartfelt ride that families with children from 4 and on should see. I found myself acting like I was a little kid again while watching, remembering the old cartoon series and live action films. It was a satisfying experience that left me wanting to see more.

 

Rating: 4.5 out 5

 

Barbie

The plastic world of a popular toy comes to life with the first live-action film Barbie. Director Greta Gerwig (known for Little Women and Lady Bird) brings to life a popular toy that has been played with by children for generations.

 

The film follows Barbie (Margot Robbie) as she lives her daily life in Barbie Land with different versions of Barbies and Kens. Her world begins to fall apart when a series of odd events occur that force her to leave her world and go to the real world. Joining her to see what the real world is like is Ken (Ryan Gosling) who is also in love with Barbie. This trip changes Ken’s outlook on what its like to be a man living in Barbie Land. For Barbie, the trip helps her realize she must come to terms with the importance of loving oneself for what they are and not what they think they need to be.

 

This was a unique experience to say the least from start to finish. I do want to say that this film isn’t for everybody, but I still found it enjoyable with a powerful message. I thoroughly enjoyed Margot Robbie’s performance in this. She does a great job in comedic roles but when she must be a dramatic actor, she always brings her A-game. On top of that, Ryna Gossling as Ken was fantastic from when he first appeared on screen to his last appearance. The other various Barbies and Kens that appear are also well done even though they don’t have a lot of screen time. The story was okay as the film was more focused on the message than the actual story. This did make some of the movie a tad bit slow to me.

 

All in all, I think this film does a great job bringing Barbie to life in a way that conveys a larger message than the story itself. There are great moments in the movie but sometimes you are left wanting a little bit more of what the film could offer. I think the production design is great and you really do get lost in Barbie Land. That immersion wasn’t quite enough for me to really feel invested in the film, but it was entertaining.

 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Oppenheimer

Director Christopher Nolan (director of The Dark Knight trilogy, Dunkirk, and Inception) is back with his new biopic, Oppenheimer, that follows the scientist who created the atomic bomb. Many of the events portrayed in the film are well-known by the public, so I really want to focus on the story conveyed, acting, special effects, and editing.

 

The story that Nolan tries to tell can best be compared to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I say that because J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) is excited to create something completely new with various parts that will be used to end the war against Japan. He feels a sense of purpose when he is approached by Leslie Groves (Matt Damon), the head of the Manhattan Project, when being tasked to create this bomb. It isn’t until we get to the moment when Oppenheimer tests the bomb that he comes to the realization that his creation will kill thousands of people. This is relatable to the building of Frankenstein which entailed piecing together a monster and bringing it to life only to find out how dangerous the creature really was.

 

Like Frankenstein, Oppenheimer begins to regret his choice to help the government, and this leads to conspiracy theories that he is a communist because of his prior engagements as a professor at Berkley. This involved Oppenheimer attending communist gatherings and having an on and off relationship with known communist Jean Tatlock (Florence Pugh). Also, his wife, Kitty Oppenheimer (Emily Blunt), was part of a communist group until she abandoned those ideologies later. It’s as though Nolan drew from the Frankenstein story. Instead of using pitchforks and fire to stop the creation of the monster, people levied accusations about Oppenheimer once he created the monster. I really find that fascinating but when you read about Oppenheimer’s history this is exactly what happened. Before these accusations occurred, Oppenheimer was a highly respected scientist serving on the Atomic Energy Council. That Council was led by Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr.) who shared information about the potential threat of Russia setting off a nuclear bomb. Strauss also offered Oppenheimer a job to be the director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

 

I know that is a lot of information but that’s how it felt the story was conveyed by Nolan. I do want to say that the acting in this movie is phenomenal. Cillian Murphy was meant to play J. Robert Oppenheimer and I couldn’t see anyone else taking on that role. The supporting cast did an amazing job as well by taking Murphy’s performance to the next level. The editing and special effects are something to be revered when watching this film knowing that no CGI was used. The sound design made you feel like you were there in Los Alamos when the bomb went off for the first time.

 

This film is why cinema exists to this day. We need to be able to be wowed once in a while when heading to the theater to remind ourselves that these experiences are possible when a film is put into the hands of an outstanding director. Nolan hit this way out of the ballpark and deserves his first ever Oscar win for Best Motion Picture. The same goes for Cillian Murphy to win the Oscar for Best Actor. If you have not seen this film, do yourself a favor and buy your ticket now.

Rating: 5 out of 5 

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1

The 8th installment of the spy action thriller Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1 hit theaters over the weekend. Directed by Christopher McQuarrie (Mission Impossible: Fallout and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) brings another gut-wrenching story that deals with the dangers of modern-day technology.

 

Once again, we find Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) accepting a mission that could either get him or his team killed. Hunt will need to team up with a thief, Grace (Haley Atwell), who is connected to a key that has access to an ultimate power. Every world power is in pursuit of this key, but the biggest threat for Ethan is that a person from his past, Gabriel (Esai Morales), is back to attain the same key. Gabriel receives help from hired assassin, Paris (Pom Klementieff), to take out the competition. Ethan will need to rely on his team, Luther Stickell (Vingh Rhames), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), and Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) to prevent a catastrophic technological takeover. How much will Ethan risk obtaining this key?

 

With so many previous installments of a franchise you start to think, “Will this get old for audiences?” I can say that no it does not get old. This film builds upon what came before it and makes it even better than some of the older entries. I really enjoyed the story this time around because it’s a lot darker and it feels like every action and reaction can have severe consequences. It keeps you on the edge of your seat while biting your fingernails. The action in this was well done from the high-speed car chases to the hand-to-hand combat sequences. Tom Cruise steals the show once again with his acting and stunt work throughout the film. He just continues to get better and better in these action films. It truly is amazing that he can still do insane stunts being over 60 years old. The rest of the cast were great, and their roles were equally important. Each person served a purpose throughout the film. The only problem I had was with some of the green screen work and CGI. You could tell they were on a sound stage and not on site. It wasn’t a big issue, but it was noticeable throughout some of the action sequences.

 

My final verdict on this film is that I like the story, action, and stunt work. I still believe Mission Impossible: Fallout is better by a smidge, which isn’t bad at all. Fallout is probably the best film out of the whole franchise. So, should you head to the theaters to see this? YES! You are crazy if don’t see this in theaters. Do yourself a favor and go see this with your family or friends. Of course, that’s if you choose to accept this mission.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Insidious: The Red Door

It’s time to enter the further once more in Insidious The Red Door. This is actor Patrick Wilson’s directorial debut while starring in the film. Let’s take a deep dive in the fifth installment of the Insidious franchise.

It’s been 10 years since josh (Patrick Wilson) and Dalton (Ty Simpkins) Lambert were hypnotized to forget the further. Now, we learn that Josh is divorced from Renai (Rose Byrne) and is also dealing with memory loss that started a couple years after being hypnotized. This has hindered his relationship with his family making Dalton resentful towards him. We then segway to Dalton attending college as an art major. During move in day, he meets Chris Winslow (Sinclair Daniel) who will eventually be someone he confides in while dealing with the resurgence of old memories. Those memories come back during art class because he is asked to dig deep into his past and remember a dark time as an inspiration to paint about. This technique though undoes the hypnotism. That results with him drawing the red door. As he continues developing his drawing, he adds more pieces to the puzzle of what really happened 10 years ago. The only problem is that while his memories are coming back an old entity also returns to reclaim what they believe is rightfully theirs. Can Dalton take on this old nemesis, or will his father need to remember the past to protect him?

As I watched this film over the weekend, I experienced a lot of well-timed jump scares. The ominous cinematography, well-done acting, and great visual effects pulled you into the movie. The only problem I had with the film was the story. I think the story dragged a bit too long to get to the climax. Once it got there, the writers seemed to fumble it a bit. I thought the final act would be somewhat longer and scarier but won’t say anymore to give it away. I was disappointed by that because the buildup was well done. It wasn’t as juicy as the previous films, and it pains me to say that. I loved the first two Insidious films and I felt like this one was kind of an afterthought.

Overall, I would say save your money and wait till this comes out on demand. Then you can do a binge watch of the first two films capping it off with this one. I enjoyed the jump scares, and the acting was well done, but the climax didn’t satisfy my horror fanatic’s heart.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Indian Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Grab your satchel and whip because it’s time to go on another adventure with Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. The film is directed by James Mangold who is best known for Logan.

In this last installment, the story begins with young Indy (Harrison Ford) and his friend Basil Shaw (Toby Shaw) stealing a piece of the Antikythera (built by mathematician Archimedes) from Nazi archaeologist Dr. Voller (Mads Mikkelsen). The Antikythera is believed to have the ability to manipulate time by allowing anyone to travel to the past. Fast forward years later, we see an old Indy dealing with retirement and a looming divorce. That’s until Shaw’s daughter, Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), discovers where Indy hid piece of the Antikythera. What Indy doesn’t know is that the U.S. government has been seeking her out for selling artifacts to the highest bidder. Now that the government is on their tail Voller reappears to continue his quest to repair the Antikythera and change the course of time. This leads to a chase around the globe to prevent the possible chance of history being rewritten.

I had a lot of fun watching this film from the acting, storytelling, and action. Of course, the big standout is Harrison Ford who did not miss a beat when reprising his role as Indy. He still felt like the same Indy back when Raiders of the Lost Ark came out. The story was interesting and a lot better than the last film. Many of the action sequences did have CGI effects, but it wasn’t terrible. There are some moments that had plot holes which pulled me out a bit. I do find it difficult to give this movie an honest rating because this franchise is loved by everyone, especially me.

So, this film for me probably ranks second to last in the franchise, but that’s because the earlier movies (except Crystal Skull) were so well done. Dial of Destiny is a well-executed Indy movie that has all the characteristics of an old Indy movie. I do recommend seeing this at least once in theaters with your family and friends.

Rating: 3.8 out of 5

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

Get your history books out and archaeologist thinking caps on because it’s time to review Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Directed by the legendary film maker Stephen Spielberg (Jaws, E.T., Saving Private Ryan) comes a tail of exploration, education, action, and mystery.

 

The film follows history professor Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) as he races around the world to retrieve ancient artifacts for museums to prevent other explorers from finding them just to sell to the highest bidder. In this story, Jones is asked by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis discover it. Will he be able to find it in time? And what are the consequences of opening the Ark?

 

When you think about lists for classic blockbuster films this must be at the top of that list. What makes this a great film is the story, the acting, and the practical effects that were used in making the set pieces. Set pieces now a days have become CGI stages that don’t give you that “awe” factor anymore. When watching this movie, everything you see is a tangible thing that you could touch. It makes the viewing experience ten times better because you can feel the actual distress caused by the real traps or action sequences. This is the reason why the movie won 4 Oscars (Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Effects/Visual Effects). This film also has one of the best opening sequences in movie history as Indiana retrieves the golden idol. It’s so well shot and the set piece for it is outstanding. It really sets the tone of the movie and gets you acclimated to the titular character. On top of that, the acting by Harrison Ford and the other actors is phenomenal. To go from Star Wars to this was such a smart move by Ford. He’ll be forever remembered as Indiana Jones, Hans Solo and Jack Ryan (for all the Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games fans out there).

 

I really wish movies today kept this classic feel. Unfortunately, with the evolution of technology, we continue to move further away from the use of practical effects that made older movies so special. Those movies have a very special place in my heart as a cinema fan. This film is so memorable because it immediately draws you into the story and makes you want to support a character that you barely know. Plus, you get to watch him beat up Nazis and that is pretty satisfying to watch. This movie will always be a classic. If you haven’t watched it, do it now! Well, maybe not immediately, but set some time aside and watch it on a Friday night with the family. You won’t regret it.

 

Rating: 5 out of 5

The Flash

Zooming into theaters this past weekend was The Flash. The first ever feature film for the DC superhero is helmed by director Andy Muschietti (Directed IT and IT Chapter 2). So, let’s head into the speed force and talk about this ambitious fast paced film.

 

We follow Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) who is trying his best to make it through life by balancing his personal life and superhero persona. Barry is also trying to find evidence to exonerate his father for being falsely accused of murdering his mother. While dealing with these issues, Barry helps Batman (Ben Affleck) save civilians from a botched robbery. Once that is dealt with, Barry goes on a run that results in him going back in time. With this ability, Barry talks to Bruce Wayne about the possibility of going back in time to prevent his mother’s murder. Bruce highly recommends not to change the past, but Barry doesn’t listen. This results in Barry creating an alternative universe where his mom is alive, but he comes face to face with a teenage version of himself. He then finds out that there are no meta humans in existence and General Zod (Michael Shannon) has just invaded Earth to turn it into Krypton. To save Earth, Barry will need the help of Batman (Michael Keaton) who isn’t the one he knows in his universe and Supergirl (Sasha Calle) not Superman. A darker entity looms in the distance, and that is the one pulling all the strings to make these events happen.

 

This film was a lot of fun, heartfelt, and action packed. I think Ezra Miller did a great job portraying Barry once again, and he had to not only play one version of the character but two. Michael Keaton was amazing as Batman. That’s all I can really say because it was like he never left that role since he was in Batman Returns (1992). I really enjoyed Sasha Calle’s portrayal of Supergirl, and I hope she reprises the role again in future DC movies. Even though he’s in it for a bit, Ben Affleck was great as Batman and Bruce Wayne. Some of the dialogue they gave him was extremely powerful, and it is sad to see that this will be the last time he’ll be in the cape and cowl. Kiersey Clemons is also in this film as Iris West, but I felt like her role could have been taken out. Her character didn’t serve as much of a purpose to the story, and that made her less intriguing. Aside from the acting, the CGI in this is rough, but I feel like it didn’t take me completely out of the film. I think the story and dialogue helped a lot, making the CGI issues less notable. There are some cameos in this that are fun to see and some that are questionable, especially the very last scene of the movie. If you want to stay to the end of the credits for the post-credit scene, you can, but it was not worth it.

 

This was a movie that followed a lot of your typical superhero movie tropes, but I think there were some new and creative features that made it somewhat unique. I think that this should have come out before Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Because of the multiverse aspect, it’s hard not to compare the two. Would I see this again? Definitely, either in theaters or when it’s out on DVD. I think that this is a fun superhero flick that the whole family can watch.

 

Rating: 3.9 out 4

 

Transformers Rise of the Beasts

The Autobots are back in action teaming up with a new crew to take down a new big bad villain in Transformers:  Rise of the Beasts. Directed by Steven Caple who is known for directing Creed II.
 
The movie starts with a story about a race of Transformers (called the Maximals) who are protecting a key that can open portals to different universes. They want to keep this key away from the villain Unicron (Colman Domingo) because he is a Transformer who eats planets. The Maximals escape to Earth to protect the key and the story then picks up in 1994. We’re then introduced to Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos) who is a former soldier searching for jobs to support his family and brother, who is very ill. The other character we meet is Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback) who works at a museum on Ellis Island. We then go back to Diaz who ends up taking a job to steal a car that turns out to be Autobot Mirage (Pete Davidson). While that is happening, Elena begins to look at a new artifact the museum received. She then discovers that the key the Maximals had is hidden inside. Both Diaz and Elena will team up with the Autobots and Maximals to defend the key from the Terracons led by Skurge (Peter Dinklage). Who is Unicrons secondhand man when destroying planets. Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) also wants to use the key to get all the Autobots home to Cybertron, but will they be able to succeed against Skurge and Unicron?
 
I had a lot of fun watching this movie given the amazing action sequences, jokes, and great soundtrack. The CGI in the film was well done and pulled you into the movie. You felt like you were around real robots that could transform into different vehicles. Pete Davidson's performance as Mirage was remarkable and the rest of the cast did great too. I think what helped the actors was a well written script with original jokes that were much better than the not so original ones during the Michael Bay era. Unicron and Skurge were done well as the villains, and they were menacing and relentless throughout the story. Lastly, the music was awesome. It was all from the 90s and felt like a blast from the past. I think that the music also helped the film by adding more flavor to the viewing experience.
 
Overall, Transformers:  Rise of the Beasts is one of those summer blockbusters you need to head to the theater to see. I like the direction the Transformers franchise is heading, especially with the mid-credit scene that made my jaw hit the floor. I am very excited to see where they will take this story next.
 
Rating: 4 out 5

 

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Swinging from universe to universe comes the second installment of this animated saga with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Directed by Joaquim Dos Santos (Producer for Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra), Kemp Powers (Writer on Pixar’s Soul), and Justin K. Thompson (Production Designer for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs franchise).

 

The film throws you into this insane story by starting off with Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld) in her universe. You get to see certain events occur that lead her to meeting Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac) to join the Spider Society. We then jump to Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) dealing with a “villain of the week” called The Spot (Jason Schwartzman). What seems to be a harmless villain turns into somebody that could destroy the whole multiverse. Miles then teams up with Gwen and the Spider Society to stop the threat, but he must break one of the Society’s codes to save someone dear to him. The only problem is O’Hara will do anything to stop him from doing that.

 

This movie was a rollercoaster of emotions from start to finish dealing with loss, friendship, loneliness, and family. The story does a great job of sinking its teeth into you and never let's go until the credits hit. I was clinching my fists out of pure stress while sitting through this film. The devastating thing is that this is part one of a two-part story. I liked the fact that this isn’t just about Miles.  They make Gwen's story a big part of the main story as well. The acting by the entire cast was phenomenal and they did a great job portraying their respective characters. Also, the animation blew my mind by how amazing it looked. I know the animaters worked very hard to make the viewing experience unique.

 

It is a strong start for movies coming out in June and, if you have the time, head out to the theaters to see this movie. Like Uncle Ben says, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Little Mermaid

Disney continues its streak to turn their old, animated movies into live action adaptations with The Little Mermaid. The director, Robert Marshall, takes you back under the sea with more musical numbers and life like CGI.

 

The film follows Ariel (Halle Bailey) who is the daughter of King Trident (Javier Bardem). Ariel has an interest in the surface world and collects different knickknacks she finds in sunken ships. One day there is a shipwreck and Ariel saves a man who turns out to be Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King). After saving the Prince, Ariel gets into a fight with her father and turns to her Aunt Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) for help to get to the surface world. Once the deal is made, Ariel can live out her dream, but she doesn’t realize how big of a mistake she made making a deal with Ursula. To undo Ursula’s spell, she’ll need the help of her trusty friends, Flounder (Jacob Tremblay), Sebastian (Daveed Diggs), Scuttle (Awkwafina), and Prince Eric.

 

Out of all the new Disney live adaptations of old films I grew up with, this is probably the second best. I still think Beauty and the Beast has an edge over this film. That’s not bad though. I thought this film conveyed the story well by adding more depth to the characters, especially Prince Eric. They gave him more of a backstory and it also related to Ariel’s story. I really enjoyed Bailey, Hauer-King, and McCarthy’s performances throughout the film. The music was great, and the flow of the film was very smooth. The downside, I would say, is the CGI is not that great and the color grading was very bleak. Also, Bardem, Tremblay, Diggs, and Awkwafina’s performances were not the best of what the film offered.

 

Overall, this new live adaptation turned out to be a pleasant film with some faults to it. It didn’t blow me away, but I enjoyed myself with the story and musical numbers. So, if you have children, make a trip to the theaters. If you’re a 90s kid, you could probably wait until this is out on DVD or streaming.

 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Fast X Review


The “Family” is back for another high-speed adventure in Fast X. Directed by Louis Leterrier, this installment brings audiences the first part of the final Fast and Furious film.

 

The film follows Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) enjoying time with his wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) and son Little Brian (Leo Abelo Perry). That eventually gets interrupted when a bleeding out Cipher (Charlize Theron) shows up at his doorstep to warn him about a man seeking revenge on him. That man is Dante Reyes (Jason Momoa) who is the son of Hernan Reyes. Hernan was killed in Fast Five after Dom and Brian stole his money. His father’s death leads Dante to try and ruin Dom’s family setting them up in Rome during a heist and forcing them to go into hiding. Once that happens, it goes downhill from there for Dom and his family.

 

This was one wild ride and not in a good way. It’s hard to explain a story that leads to nothing in the end. I didn’t understand how a movie can set up multiple story lines and none of them had a resolution. The movie also abruptly ends with no warning at all. I thought we had maybe thirty more minutes to get through to finish one story, but that was not the case. The film also has its whacky action sequences where they break the law of physics, which can be fun sometimes. Other than that, the only thing I enjoyed about this film was Jason Momoa as the villain. I feel like he took his character in a fun direction for a film that really did nothing different from its predecessors.

 

This is really for people who are big into action sequences, or they really like cars. If you’re going for an actual thoughtful story, this movie might not be for you.

 

Rating: 2 out 5

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