Captain Marvel

CaptainMarvel

Directed By: Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Clark Gregg, Gemma Chan, Annette Bening, Djimon Hounsou, Ben Mendelsohn, Lee Pace, Lashana Lynch, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B+

When Kree Starforce officer Vers is taken by Skrull operatives and has her memories searched, she is shown events she can’t recall living through. After escaping, she crash lands on Earth, where she meets Agent Nick Fury. Coming to a truce of sorts, Fury agrees to help her get information about Dr. Wendy Lawson, one of the people in the memories that were searched, who was working on an experimental engine that the Skrulls were looking for. As she spends more time on Earth, she eventually learns that her name is actually Captain Carol Danvers, an Air Force pilot who went missing after the experimental craft she was test piloting crashed and killed Dr. Lawson. No longer certain of who she can and can’t trust, Carol joins forces with Fury in an effort to unravel the mystery behind her missing memories and the source of the extraordinary powers she possesses.

Captain Marvel is the 21st movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and is the first one to center on a female superhero. The introduction of Captain Marvel was long-awaited, and planned as far back as the first Avengers movie in 2012. The movie itself is very good, but falls a little short of amazing. Many fans have been critical of Marvel for ensuring they had a profitable idea before venturing into diversifying their leads, but wait was mostly worth it. It was interesting to see a couple of fan-favorite characters before the “official” start of the MCU, though the CGI de-aging was a bit disconcerting at times. The new characters introduced all fit into the established universe well, and Marvel continues to stock their roster of A-List actors in their movies. The storyline itself is fairly easy to follow, and while the twist near the end may not be jaw-dropping, it’s nice to see that they’re still trying to keep fans on their toes after 10+ years.

The special effects are all very well done, as is the case with nearly every Marvel movie, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Fans of the MCU, as well as anyone looking for a movie starring a kick-ass heroine, should enjoy this movie. Since it’s an origin story, you don’t necessarily need to be familiar with the rest of the MCU movies in order to understand what’s going on. Young girls in particular will probably like a movie with a strong female lead, which, while there are more movies with them being made, there’s still a serious lack positive role models and women carrying movies.

Captain Marvel is not currently available free to stream anywhere, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

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The Martian

Martian

Directed By: Ridley Scott
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B+

After a storm forces an evacuation of a Mars-based research station, Mark Watney, who was believed to have been killed in the storm, wakes up to realized that he has been stranded on the barren planet. Realizing he needs to survive, he relies on his skills as a botanist to grow food, and also attempts to signal Earth that he is still alive. After several months of believing him to be dead, a low-level engineer manages to discover that base-camp for the research crew has been disturbed in a way that storms wouldn’t be able to, and soon finds proof that Watney survived the storm. After alerting Watney that they know he is alive, he and NASA scientists, come up with a crude means of communication. As time passes, Watney and NASA try to figure out a way to get him off the planet using a shuttle meant to supply an upcoming mission.

A different take on a sci-fi/survival story, The Martian is an interesting what-if story that has the potential to actually happen at some point in the future. From what I can tell, the science is fairly accurate, though I can’t say for certain. Matt Damon does well with his scenes, especially considering he spends most of the movie talking to himself while doing video journal entries. The other actors all work well together, and it was interesting to see some comedy-based actors take on more dramatic roles.

The special effects are all well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

This is an interesting movie that should appeal to most people. The drama isn’t too heavy-handed, and there’s enough comedy and action sequences interspersed throughout to hold the attention of people who don’t generally enjoy science fiction, even if it is on the lighter side of the sci-fi spectrum. It may be a little too dense to watch repeatedly, but I think an occasional viewing wouldn’t drive anyone too nuts.

The Martian is not currently available free to stream anywhere, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Cairo Time

CairoTime2

Directed By: Ruba Nadda
Starring: Patricia Clarkson, Alexander Siddig, Elena Ayana, Amina Annabi, Tom McCamus, Mona Hala, Fadia Nadda, et.al.
Rating: PG
Grade: A-

When Juliette goes to Cairo to meet with her husband, Mark, who is a UN official working with the refugee camps, she finds that he is delayed by rising tensions, and that she has been left to fend for herself, with only Tareq, her husband’s former head of security for company. Weary of exploring the city on her own, Juliette begins to seek out Tareq’s company, both as a form of protection and also so that she has someone to share the experience with. However, as more time passes, Juliette and Tareq begin to realize that their easy friendship has developed into something more.

Every now and then I watch something that seems completely off-kilter with my usual tastes in movies and television. This was one of the few times I was pleasantly surprised. A slow-burning, ultimately chaste romance story about what equates to an emotional affair between a married woman and a close friend of her husband’s. The Egyptian backdrop is beautiful to look at and adds to the romantic setting. Clarkson and Siddig have amazing chemistry, and it’s nice to have an acknowledgment that people in their 40s and 50s still have desires.

There aren’t any obvious special effects, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Anyone who doesn’t mind a slow-burn romantic drama will enjoy this movie, and I would definitely recommend putting in the effort to find it somewhere (the only places that carry the movie digitally that I could find were iTunes and Google Play). While it may not be something you would want to watch all the time, it’s definitely something I can see people wanting to watch every now and then when they need a dose of something made by a hopeless romantic.

Cairo Time is not currently available free to stream anywhere, but can be rented through Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Assassin’s Creed

AssassinsCreed

Directed By: Justin Kurzel
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendon Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Kenneth Williams, Dennis Ménochet, Ariane Labed, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B-

As a child, Cal Lynch watched his father murder his mother only moments before their home is invaded by unknown assailants. In the years that followed, Cal himself turned to a life of crime, eventually being executed for killing several people. When he wakes up after his execution, Cal is told by Dr. Sophia Rikkin that he is legally dead, she and her fellow scientists have brought him to their facility for an experiment. Cal eventually learns that he the last in a line of ‘Assassins’, and ancient order that has vowed to protect the Apple of Eden, and that Sophia and the other Abstergo people are descended from the Knights Templar, who have been searching for the Apple for centuries.

I’m going to start by saying I never played the video games this movie is adapted from, though I was vaguely aware of them. From my outsider’s perspective, the movie isn’t that bad. I’m sure there were some nods to the game that went over my head, but since I didn’t know to be looking for them, I can’t say whether they added to of detracted from the experience. The actors all do well with the material, though I probably could have gone the rest of my life without hearing Fassbender’s attempt at a southern accent (it’s not terrible, it’s just generally off-putting when someone considers his natural Irish one). Marion Cotillard seems a bit out of place in the movie, considering the kinds of movies she usually appears in, though she does well with the material, and her chemistry with Fassbender is spot-on. The story itself is easy to follow (a little research tells me it’s very close to the story of the original video game), and doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

The special effects are all well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

While die-hard fans of the video game series may not enjoy this movie, anyone else who likes action and/or fantasy probably will. As stated before, the storyline is easy to follow, and while it may take a minute to get used to the way the flashbacks are handled, the movie itself is easily rewatchable and probably worth the couple of bucks it would cost to rent.

Assassin’s Creed is not currently available free to stream anywhere, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Bring It On: Worldwide Cheersmack

BringItOn6

Directed By: Robert Adetuyi
Starring: Cristine Prosperi, Sophie Vavasseur, Jason Rodrigues, Gia Re, Natalie Walsh, Sven Ruygrok, Vivica A. Fox, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: C

After being publicly humiliated, cheer captain Destiny is issued a challenge by a mysterious group of cheerleaders calling themselves The Truth. In order to prove that her team’s titles are deserved, Destiny and her squad must perform in a global cheer competition against not only The Truth, but also squads from countries across the world. When she is betrayed by someone she thought was a friend, Destiny recruits a group of street dancers to help her and her squad prove once and for all that they’re the best cheerleaders in the world.

The sixth installment of Universal’s Bring It On franchise should probably (hopefully?) be the last. They’re clearly grasping at plots to try and keep the movies from being too repetitive, and while there is an original element to it, it’s sadly not enough to save the movie from feeling like a repeat of the previous five installments. There’s only so many ways to show that growth and seeking out new ideas is a good thing to stay on top of your game, so to speak. Not even Vivica A. Fox’s presence can keep you from feeling like you’ve seen the story before.

There aren’t any obvious special effects, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

If you liked the previous five Bring It On movies, then you’ll probably want to watch this one (like I did). It doesn’t require much attention, so it could probably be used as background noise when working on things around the house.

Bring It On: Worldwide Cheersmack is currently available free to stream through Netflix, and can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Serenity (2019)

Serenity(2019)

Directed By: Steven Knight
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jason Clarke, Diane Lane, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Strong, Charlotte Butler, Rafael Sayegh, et.al.
Rating: R
Grade: C

Baker Dill, a charter boat captain on idyllic Plymouth Island, lives a quiet life taking tourists on fishing trips and wiling away his free time doing odd jobs for other residents on the island. One night, however, Baker’s life is thrown for a loop when his ex-wife appears and offers him $10 million to kill her current husband, who she claims is abusing both her and the child she shares with Baker. As Baker contemplates the tempting offer, he finds himself being lured back into day-to-day life by the residents of the island, as well as the promise of catching the one fish that has eluded him for years, which he has named Justice. After Baker has made up his mind about his course of action, he discovers a surprising secret about his life and home.

Despite very much wanting to be a high-quality noir thriller, Serenity falls short in many respects. The initial story of a man being approached by a woman asking him to kill her husband, while hardly original, is presented well enough to be interesting, and if the filmmakers had simply stuck to that, they might have turned out a decent B-quality movie. However, the unnecessary addition of a slight sci-fi element manages to take away any importance and impact that the main plot may have had. McConaughey and Hathaway have decent chemistry, and Clarke seems to be making a career out of playing assholes. For some reason, Hathaway made the choice to spend the majority of her screen time purring all of her lines in an attempt to sound like a 50s femme fatale, which takes some of the emotion out of her performance.

The special effects vary throughout the movie, but for the most part they’re fairly decent, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Unless you’re a die-hard fan of one of the actors in the movie, then you probably won’t want to spend money to watch this movie. It’s not completely terrible, but it’s also not very good, and requires a little more attention than most people would probably be willing to devote to it after the first hour or so.

Serenity is currently available free to stream through Amazon Prime, and can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

The Kid Who Would Be King

KidWhoWouldBeKing

Directed By: Joe Cornish
Starring: Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Denise Gough, Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris, Rebecca Ferguson, Angus Imrie, Patrick Stewart, et.al.
Rating: PG
Grade: B-

Twelve-year-old Alex and his best friend Bedders spend most of their days trying to escape their bullies, Lance and Kaye. However, one day, they stumble upon an abandon construction site and finds what appears to be a sword sticking out of a piece of stone. Believing a weapon would better his chances, Alex pulls out the sword. The next day, a new student at Alex’s school approaches him and tells him that Alex is a descendant of King Arthur, and that by taking Excalibur from the stone, the evil sorceress Morgana has awakened to wreak her revenge on Arthur’s line and the people of England. Using the story of ‘The Once and Future King’ as a guide, Alex recruits Bedders, Lance, and Kaye to be his knights as they attempt to defeat Morgana before the pending solar eclipse when she will reach full power and destroy them all.

When undertaking an update of a classic tale, there is always a problem of balance, and finding a way to modernize the story without losing its heart. Surprisingly, this adaptation manages to avoid those issues and delivers a surprisingly charming and enjoyable movie. Despite the fantasy elements, the story itself is relatable to more than just children, and, while the idea of a child finding out they’re actually more special than they were led to believe, if it’s well approached like this movie is, then it’s not as bothersome as some attempts tend to be. The kids all work well together and the actors playing the children show promise with their talents.

The special effects are all pretty good for a mid-budget children’s movie, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

This movie should appeal to almost everyone. The story is light-hearted and doesn’t take itself too seriously, and everyone involved appears to be having fun. Those who don’t enjoy fantasy may not want to watch it over and over again, but they probably won’t regret watching it at least once.

The Kid Who Would Be King is currently unavailable free to stream anywhere at the moment, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Mortal Engines

MortalEngines

Directed By: Christian Rivers
Starring: Hera Hilmar, Robert Sheehan, Hugo Weaving, Jihae Kim, Ronan Rafferty, Leila George, Patrick Malahide, Steven Lang, Colin Salmon, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B-

In a distant, post-apocalyptic dystopia, humans have abandon stationary dwellings, and have rebuilt their cities to move on wheels. As resources continue to dwindle, only the biggest and fiercest cities can survive and often overtake the smaller cities and towns which roam the countryside. After Hester Shaw sets herself on a city about to be overtaken by London, one of the most fearsome cities in Europe, she sets out her plan to assassinate Thaddeus Valentine, the man who murdered her mother years earlier and left Hester horribly disfigured. When her plan fails, she flees into the bowels of the city in an attempt to escape, where she is followed by Tom Natsworthy, a man who works with Valentine’s daughter in the museum. Before jumping from the city, she gives Tom a message, which he relays to Valentine when he arrives moments later. Realizing Tom knows too much, Valentine pitches Tom overboard in an attempt to silence him, which was witnessed by an acquaintance of Tom’s, unknown to Valentine. Having survived their falls from London, Tom and Hester enter into an uneasy alliance to get back to the city. Their journey, however is hampered by the dangers of Outlands, the mysterious figure in pursuit of Hester, and the terrible weapon that Valentine is crafting which threatens to destroy anyone who might stand in his way.

One of the latest YA dystopian movies, this is hindered both by having much of the material excised to make a palatable movie length, as well as being released at the end of the dystopian YA craze. Though neither one of those really has an impact on the quality of this surprisingly not awful movie. I always feel that these sprawling fantasy series would be better served by a television series so that less information is lost in translating them from book to screen. That said, the movie itself isn’t all that bad. It manages to escape many of the tired tropes that audiences have come to expect from YA movies (the ‘special’ girl who isn’t traditionally pretty; a love triangle between two vastly different boys, one of whom rarely/never takes an interest in girls; etc.) Robert Sheehan and Hera Hilmar have a decent chemistry, and Hugo Weaving always seems to be having fun when he plays a villain.

The special effects are all fairly well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

This should appeal to most people who enjoy sci-fi/fantasy movies. The storyline is interesting enough that the underlying fact of it mainly being a teen movie shouldn’t hamper one’s enjoyment of it. Most of the scenery is beautiful and makes it worth the watch. The movie is also good enough that it probably won’t grate on anyone’s nerves upon rewatching it.

Mortal Engines is currently unavailable free to stream anywhere at the moment, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Happy Death Day 2U

HappyDeathDay2U

Directed By: Christopher Landon
Starring: Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Phi Vu, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin, Rachel Matthews, Ruby Modine, Steve Zissis, Charles Aitken, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B+

After surviving the events of a time loop which made her repeat her birthday over and over again until she’s murdered by a mysterious figure in a baby mask, Tree Gelbman is ready to start living her best life with her boyfriend, Carter. However, her happiness is short-lived when Carter’s dorm mate, Ryan, shows up in their shared room freaking out and talking about how he thinks he may have already lived through the day. Intrigued, Tree asks Ryan to walk her and Carter through the events that happened the previous ‘day,’ and discovers not only why Ryan reset, but why she was affected in a similar manner the day before, however, when a school official interrupts a test of the machine responsible for the time loops, Tree is thrown into a parallel universe where most things are the same, but a few, small, important details have changed. Tasked with trying to figure out what went wrong, Tree soon has to decide whether she wants to go back to her own universe, or stay in the one she landed in.

While marketed as a horror movie, this sequel to 2017’s surprisingly enjoyable slasher flick is more science fiction than horror. While there are still people being murdered, it’s no longer Tree’s life that’s in constant danger, though she does go through a sequence of increasingly outlandish ways to commit suicide, and the main plot is trying to fix the device that sent her into a parallel universe. That aside, this movie is also quite enjoyable. The small changes between the two universes Tree experiences helps her gain further closure with plot points from the first movie, and lets her have experiences she wouldn’t have been able to have.

A couple of the effects used are noticeable, but most aren’t, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

If you enjoyed the first movie, then you’ll probably like this one as well, and with the lack of gore, anyone who’s not a fan of horror movies should also like it. There’s a small recap at the beginning of the movie, which means people new to the franchise don’t necessarily need to watch the first installment. It’s also enjoyable enough that one should be able to rewatch it without getting bored too easily.

Happy Death Day 2U is currently unavailable free to stream anywhere at the moment, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Crazy Rich Asians

CrazyRichAsians

Directed By: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Lisa Lu, Awkwafina, Harry Shum, Jr., Ken Jeong, Sonoya Mizuno, Chris Pang, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: A

When NYU professor Rachel Chu agrees to accompany her boyfriend, Nick Young, to China to attend his best friend’s wedding, and meet Nick’s family in the process, she has no idea what to expect. However, even in her wildest fantasies she couldn’t have imagined that her boyfriend comes from one of the wealthiest and oldest families in China, or that Nick himself is Asia’s most eligible bachelor. Upon arriving, Rachel has to not only contend with Nick’s extremely disapproving mother, but also the scheming socialites who believe that he would be better off with ‘one of his own’. With some help from a friend from college and one of Nick’s outcast cousins, Rachel does her best to outshine the glittering jewels of Singapore high society and show them that wealth doesn’t always equal worth.

I rarely see Romantic Comedies in theaters since they all seem to be better off viewed from the comfort of one’s own couch, but I made an exception for this movie. Crazy Rich Asians is one of the few major movie productions to feature an entirely Chinese cast since 1993’s Joy Luck Club, and its rampant success has since helped make small steps toward more diverse casting choices in Hollywood productions, which is always a good thing. While the storyline itself is rather simple and typical for a RomCom, it really is the cast that makes this movie a standout. From Michelle Yeoh’s understated disapproval, to Awkwafina’s scene-stealing and Gemma Chan’s almost ethereal presence, the actors all work wonderfully together and bring Kevin Kwan’s book to life beautifully.

The few special effects are fairly good, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Anyone who can tolerate Romantic Comedies should enjoy this movie, since it doesn’t quite follow the cookie-cutter pattern that plagues most ones made these days. The refreshingly somewhat original story and delightful cast also keep the movie from grating too much on rewatches.

Crazy Rich Asians is currently not available free to stream anywhere at the moment unless you have HBO, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.