You know it’s hard to reboot a videogame into a movie with the right formula. Many have tried and failed (anybody ever see Super Mario Bros?), but hats off here because this Sonic works and borrows just enough visible cues from the game to make this a delight for the 6, 16 and even 60yr olds of the world – and that’s no small feat. The story centers on our blue hero who is chased from his home world and into ours only to be comically and relentlessly hunted by the evil Dr. Robotnik (of course it’s Jim Carrey, who else could portray a methodical genius and a haphazard buffoon at the same time!). Aiding Sonic on Earth is an upstart Montana town Sheriff James Marsden (Cyclops of X-Men fame) who struggles with his place within a small Montana town and yearns for some action. When Sonic and Robotnik hit the scene, we’re all treated to a videogame style melee that hits all the marks. I was truly surprised at how enjoyable and just plain fun this was to watch. I’m even going all-out on my fearless box office forecast: It will be #1, it will beat Fantasy island & The Photograph on its way to a $40M+ box office weekend. A- (why a minus? Just something about the demographic makeup of the fictional town of Green Springs, Montana – but it’s a movie, so I’ll let it slide)
TwiView: Bad Boys For Life (in theaters now!) They’re back! Will Smith (Mike Lowery) and Martin Lawrence (Marcus Burnett) return after a 17yr hiatus and the two haven’t skipped a beat. Still just as funny, and despite their ages, just as action-packed. BB4L centers on a revenge plot being taken against Mike Lowery that inevitably pulls everyone from his past into focus. The ‘boys’ reluctantly team up in attempt to thwart the plot but also to help Mike get his mojo back (we know, how did he lose it right? And why would the boys be reluctant to join up?) Oddly, after 17yrs the series is not stale, and Miami looks as stylish and as hot as ever. What separates this 3rd chapter of the BB series from other buddy-cop stories and their third chapters (we’re thinking Lethal Weapon series) is…nothing, ok maybe a little something. Of course it has the same formulaic lost love that needs to be rekindled, the same tragedy scenario that befalls one of our heroes, and the obligatory death of a major character. Where BB4L separates, is a really unexpected plot twist that you don’t see coming, but you’ll get a small kick out of it all the same (can someone say the ‘Bad Boy Universe?’). BB4L has the laughs, the explosions, and the hot cars to take its place in the pantheon of action-comedy hits and our only complaint is that even though the characters got older (like Grandpop, gray haired and hittin’ the Grecian formula!), their action-moves did not. These characters are 50yo+ and still jumping, flying and kicking a lot of ‘arse’ – hey maybe they’re just in great shape and we’re jealous! You won’t mind though it though as you’re being treated to a barrage of bullets, one-liners and oh yeah, Reggie (memba him?). BB4L is rated R with a 2hr and 4min running time. We give this solid little threequel 4 out of 5 stars. Fearless Box Office forecast: $51M opening weekend). Oh yeah, BB4L is taking a page from Marvel, so stick around for the credits!
Jumanji, The Next Level (in theaters FRI 12.13.19). Is this sequel beating the concept like a dead horse? That answer, would be no. This is hands down the funniest and most adventurous of the series! JTNL picks up roughly a year after the last film, and the crew has grown older, a bit wiser, and for young Spencer (Alex Wolff), a bit more depressed. Desperate to relive the glory of Jumanji, he re-enters the game on his own leaving his old crew to figure out what’s happened to him. Determined to save their friend, they re-enter the game, but with a complication this time. Spence’s grandfather Eddie (Danny Devito) and Eddie’s elder best friend Milo (Danny Glover) who are unwittingly pulled into the video game action. In the best and funniest twist possible, the game avatar ownership gets changed as the crew gets pulled into the action – this time, old grandpa Eddie becomes Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson) and Milo becomes the impish zoologist, Franklin Finbar (Kevin Hart). And to keep you completely rolling on the floor, the rest of the crews avatars are swapped which introduces new characters including the wily, Ming (Awkwafina). A new evil threatens Jumanji and his name is Gregor The Hound…sorry, I mean ‘Jurgen The Brutal.’ portrayed by Rory McCann of GOT fame. Couldn’t resist. Our intrepid crew must battle ostriches, humid deserts, and crazed baboons on their way to thwarting Jurgen’s evil plot to use a stolen precious gem and an arranged marriage to become King of the land. This is by far the best of the series and what makes this version special is how well Hart & Johnson are able to personify the elderly characters their avatars inhabit. I was really looking for ‘cracks’ between the two of them and the others as they haphazardly swap identities throughout the film. The entire cast did a fantastic job of staying in their original characters voice and personalities, just a phenomenal job. If I had one complaint for this version, it would be the ‘bad guy Jurgen’ motivation. Oddly, once you get to know him, he’s not really evil and his plan, outside of stealing the precious gem isn’t as dastardly as his predecessors, it’s actually a bit benevolent. Put that aside and you’ve got a raucous and wild ride and what is sure to be a box office success. A- (Fearless box office weekend forecast: $71 million)
Did you miss your chance to see it in theaters? How about catching it again, and for a worthy cause. Tribeca Film Festival and Bloomberg Philanthropies have teamed up with City Pop-Up Baltimore to bring a one-of-a-kind experience to our city…and its free! Check the details below and #staygeeky
Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Tribeca Film Festival chose Baltimore for the inaugural City Pop-Up event in 2017, which featured the documentary STEP. Based on that success, and in continued recognition of the community’s resilient spirit, they returned for a second year. City Pop-Up was born from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Tribeca’s joint mission to help revitalize cities and build communities by bringing people together through film and entertainment. Last year’s event featured a screening of the groundbreaking film Black Panther and brought out hundreds of local residents to the event.
SCREENING DETAILS: On October 25, 4PM, they are hosting City Pop-Up: Baltimore, a community event featuring a free public screening of the 2019 version of THE LION KING. City Pop-Up takes place at the Under Armor House at Fayette, operated by Living Classrooms. This event is an amazing opportunity to bring the Baltimore community together for a night out featuring local food vendors, performances and music. Click the weblink for more details
Connect with Bloomberg Philanthropies & Tribeca:
Twitter: @Bloombergdotorg Twitter: @Tribeca
Instagram: @Bloombergdotorg Instagram: @tribeca
Is this franchise a bit stale with overblown action sequences and monster cars? That would be no. In actuality its just as vibrant, much more funny, and a Samoan rocking good time! The Rock (Be Cool) and Jason Statham (The Transporter) return as Hobbs and Shaw respectively. This time out, they’re teamed with Shaw’s sister Hattie (Vannessa Kirby; MI: Fallout) to thwart a revolutionary new kind of baddie…a cyber-enhanced one who goes by the name Brixton (Idris Elba; Molly’s Game). Brixton is an augmented human with bionic implants, embedded AI tech and a super-suit so cool, it’s got holster’s for his multitude of guns. Brixton, puppeteered by a shadowy ‘the man’ character you never meet, traverses the globe hunting down Hattie who is in position of a rare programmable virus that could wipe out the human race. Shaw and Hobbs are reluctantly pulled in by the US government to track Brixton, retrieve the virus and save the day.
Put aside the bevy of cameos in the film by some unexpected leading Hollywood names (no spoilers!), there’s something else buried deep within the nougaty center of this balls-out action blast, and that’s a message of family and forgiveness. The Rock serves as a producer for this film and I get the sense that he was the driver for adding this element. Hobb’s has a young precocious daughter who brings his character a touch of the softer side to balance out all this head-crushing action. Going further, we get a deeper sense of Hobb’s connection to his estranged Samoan island family and how even in bad times, family will always win out in the end. I confess, I have not followed the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise through its entirety so I can’t speak to continuity of storylines. What I can say is that if you can see through some of the outlandish stunt sequences (which still look amazing even if completely unbelievable), you’ll find that this is a seriously funny film. It’s more ‘buddy-cop’ than direct action vehicle which is strongly supported by those surprise cameos. See this one with a date for some fun, it’s far from Shakespeare, but that isn’t why we love these high-octane, head-cracking action flicks. B-
I’m hoping there’s no ‘spoiler concerns,’ for readers as this is a remake 25 years in the making and as far as reboots go, this one is…acceptable. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the animated version, music and all. But, with the reboot, I wasn’t as happy. Maybe it was too real? Watching Simba and Scar go at it in animated form is a lot different than watching ‘real life’ lions going at each other (kinda scary). The whimsy and folly of the original soundtrack takes a reboot here as key lyrics are changed (some for the better, some for the worse). Even with Elton John back in the music fold to help out, I still felt as though the rebooted tracks were lacking. The standout exception is the Beyonce, Donald Glover, Seth Rogen rendition of ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight,’ this one still gave me goosebumps like the original.
So, the plot you know, right? Young Simba is born into a great responsibility of caring for the African Prideland. Young, rash and easily impressionable he unwittingly becomes a pawn in his Uncle Scar’s plans to take over the Pride by murdering Simba’s father, Mufasa (still voiced strongly and so well by James Earl Jones). Ashamed of his role in his father’s death and chased out by his Uncle, Simba starts a new life in the wilderness and meets two animal friends who eagerly usher him through the new landscape. With Timon (Billy Eichner) the Meerkat and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) the warthog Simba learns to dismiss his upbringing and Pride responsibilities in favor of a carefree life. When life within the Pride reaches destitute means, the lioness’ led by Simba’s former childhood friend Nala (Beyonce) leave the Pride for help which is what circles Nala back to Simba and a reminder about his real place in the ‘circle of life.’
So lets get to what matters, right? Will you enjoy this film and will it frighten your young ones? The simple answer is yes, on both counts. It’s the ‘Lion King’ and the story has endured for 25 years via sequels, Broadway iterations and even an amusement park ride! You’ll enjoy it because its essentially the same story as the original with some enhanced tidbits embedded throughout. It is dark, and by that I mean, it’s a bit scary. The elephant graveyard, the hyena’s and of course the penultimate fight scene in the 3rd act. Remember the animated hyena’s? They were funny, obviously bad guys, but far from what you’ll see here. Shenzi (the lead hyena played by Whoopi Goldberg in the original), doesn’t so much seem like a member of the core trio, as an all-encompassing leader that would probably kill her own kind to get her means to an end. Scar (voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor) is obviously the bad guy, but his digitally animated form is not the ‘bony, barely there’ animated kind – it’s a harsher and more jaded face that starkly reminded me of the tiger Shere Khan from 2016’s ‘The Jungle Book.’ The rest of the voice talent within is serviceable. Beyonce as Nala is incredibly underused, and outside of needing her voice for the key love song – she has no real presence. The standout, for me, was Zazu (voiced ably and on par by John Oliver), and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen). The rest of the voice talent carries the film, but none transcend.
This film is rated PG not G like the original and it is a rightly designation. Keep your kiddies close as the story draws out, they’ll be reaching for your hand at some point. Running Time: 2hrs. – Grade, B-
Looking for a movie with action and ‘millennial Uber driver meets 80’s’ style cop comedy? Look no further than Stuber. A sporting goods clerk by day, and Uber driver at night, Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) just wants to make some extra money to help open up a small business with a friend. Vic (Dave Bautista) is an older cop on a mission to capture a drug dealing bad guy who has eluded him for months. When Stu and Vic’s worlds collide, it turns into one hilarious shoot out after another, and we find out exactly the lengths Stu will go to keep his 5-star rating. Nanjiani shines in this action-packed comedy, and Bautista shows us he is a more versatile actor then some may think. Stuber will have you laughing through the whole movie. While I wish I could give Stuber a 5-star rating, I can’t. But, it is still a great summer movie and worth purchasing a ticket to see. 3 ½ stars. Stuber is rated R due to violence, brief nudity, language and sexual references. If you love 80’s cop movies you will enjoy Stuber. Stuber opens nationwide on FRI 07.12.19 (R. Barry)
(Spoiler Free!) Maybe you’re like me and think the latest iteration of Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is a little too young, naïve, and nice? I mean, he is the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, but this kid is just a bit to cordial and a bit too trusting. You can argue that’s a big theme in this latest installment from the MCU. The plot you know right? Peter and his classmates embark on a class trip to Europe which is interrupted by elemental forces who are being fought by a Thor-like superhero named Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). In the midst of this, is a blossoming pubescent relationship between Peter and MJ (Zendaya), and a relentless Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) who is hellbent on breaking Peter’s ‘love’ plans in favor of recruiting him to help Mysterio. Seems like all the makings of a super-hero thriller right? But wait, there’s more. Remember ‘Avengers Infinity War/Endgame?’ How our penchant heroes saved the world and brought half the worlds population back to life? SFFH continues that storyline with a really cool arc (no spoilers).
Without spoiling it, you will enjoy this engaging installment of the franchise. It’s a fitting follow up for ‘Endgame’ and a great growing point for all the primary characters including Happy (Jon Favreau), Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), and even his roommate Ned (Jacob Batalon). Director Jon Watts (Cop Car) does a fantastic job with a big budget and a bevy of stars to handle. This film could have easily left the mark by purely focusing on Spider-Man/Mysterio, but instead it does an artful job of making you care about young Peter, his teenage angst (waitaminit, is he still a teenager?), and even the budding romance of his oddly young and ‘incredibly hot after all these years’ Aunt May. Let’s not forget the world locales as well. Watts and his production designer did an amazing job showcasing world landmark locations in way that made them feel almost Disneyland like – I wanted to be at every site they filmed at.
This chapter is not the penultimate of the MCU, but it’s a solid addition to it. You’ll be engaged the entire ride and leave the theater wishing you had a set of Tony Stark’s ‘big brother’ spectacles! There is, to me, one gaping hole plot but I’ll wait until WED of next week to discuss it in this post (no spoilers!). B+ Spider-Man Far From Home is rated PG-13 with a running time of 2h 13m. Oh yeah, SPOILER ALERT!! There are two post credit scenes you’ll want to stick around for and both are not only relevant but great additions to the storyline.
Fan of M. Night Shyamalan? Well we’ve got DVD/BluRay copies of his latest thriller, ‘Glass.’ The film features Shyamalan’s eccentric trio of super and anti-heroes, while offering a closer look at the world of the men within; Elijah Price, also known as Mr. Glass (Samuel J. Jackson), David Dunn (Bruce Willis), and Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) all work together to weave a tale of escalating encounters as they escape from an asylum and embark on a thrilling battle of good versus evil! Want to score a copy of the disc for yourself? Check the contest details below the banner and #staygeeky[Read more…]
TwiView: The LEGO Movie 2, The Second Part – This is what the follow up LEGO movies behind the original SHOULD have been! A return to the cross-storyline that involves not just the LEGO characters but also the humans that are controlling them. This time out, Bricksburg is threatened by an alien force which in the real world is a powerful ‘Mom’ whose trying to get her children to learn how to play together. You’ll get bonuses in this one in the form of some great new characters and voices including the sultry, slick and evil? Tiffany Haddish as Queen Watevra (get it?). Chris Pratt pulls double duty as Awesome Emmitt and the all-new Rex Dangervest. What sets this iteration apart from the abysmal LEGO Ninjago movie and LEGO Batman movie is its return to family cohesiveness at its core. Remember that wonder from the original film as real-life little Jaden builds a LEGO world in his Dad’s basement and it plays out in the LEGO world? Well, you get a nice heaping helping of that again and you’ll be delighted by the characters you meet along the way. A-