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Review: The Lion King (2019)

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-

The Lion King (2019)

TwiView: Stuber (2019)

 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)

Stuber (2019)
It’s going to be a rough path to 5-stars

Review: Spider-Man, Far From Home (2019)

(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.

Glass, DVD/BluRay Giveaway!

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

A shattering new thriller from the Director of ‘The Sixth Sense’
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TwitView: The LEGO Movie 2, The Second Part, A+

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-

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch – BluRay/DVD Giveaway!

Oh the weather outside is frightful…And it looks to continue so why not stay warm by the fire with a heartwarming and grinchy tale to help you pass the frost-bitten hours?  Universal Home Video is proudly launching the box-office smash reboot of the classic Dr. Seuss hit, ‘The Grinch’ starring Benedict Cumberbatch on JAN 22 via digital and on FEB 05, 2019 for 3K Ultra, Blu-Ray and DVD.  Want to score a copy of the BluRay/DVD delivered right to your door?  Check the contest details behind the post, and #staygeeky

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TwiView: The Upside (in theaters now)

TwiView: The Upside (in theaters now). Kevin Hart (Dell) & Bryan Cranston (Philip) form the unlikeliest of friends in this touching, urbanely funny, and spirit lifting dramedy. After stumbling onto a job as a care companion for Philip, an agitated paraplegic billionaire, Dell discovers hope, challenge and change are in store for them both as each helps the other to recognize ‘the upside’ to their very different but equally difficult lives. For Dell, an estranged father to his son and girlfriend, there are lessons of humility and responsibility. For Philip, it’s learning that he can recover the pieces of his life he’d long thought gone based on his crippling condition. The film is light hearted enough and full of adventures between the two as the curmudgeonly Philip is shown a new way of looking at life by the optimistic and one-liner filled Dell. The true standout in the film is Nicole Kidman (Yvonne), who works for Philip as an Executive household secretary of sorts (even though she’s Harvard educated and capable of so much more). Kidman’s ability to showcase command of Philips home staff, while simultaneously displaying frailty over her own life and choices was mesmerizing. ‘The Upside’ is funny, yes – but at its root is a story of redemption – for both Dell & Philip. See it with a friend or date and see if you can gauge if in fact that is Julianna Margulies (TV’s ER & The Good Wife), portraying Philips long time pen-pal turned blind date. B+

Hart & Cranston from an enjoyable albeit unlikely friendship

MOVIE SCREENING: Mortal Engines (TUE 12.11.18 @ 7PM, Cinemark Egyptian 24)

How much power does the human body generate?  Enough to run a massive city-size engine?  Probably not.  And good thing it doesn’t have to in this jaw-dropping sci-fi apocalyptic thriller.  From famed action and fantasy helmer Peter Jackson (King Kong), comes an imaginative future-world based on the real-life novella series.  Set in a future world where a cataclysmic event has limited the planets populations, a densely packed but massively mobile city known as London roams the Earth assimilating all it contacts – a young female fighter named Hester emerges and teamed with her newfound friends Tom & Anna, wage a war for the people.

Yeah baby! We need a strong sci-fi tale to usher us through the holiday season, and we want you at the Baltimore area screening with us.  How you say?  Check the details below the film highlights, and get posting!  #staygeeky

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Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (TUE 11.06.18 @ 7PM), Family 4-Pack Give-away

Loving you some Grinch? We’re kind of excited about Benedict Cumberbatch’s take on the wild, woolly, hater of all haters.  Cumberatch lends his voice to the infamous Grinch, who lives a solitary life inside a cave on Mt. Crumpet with only his loyal dog, Max, for company.  With a cave rigged with inventions and contraptions for his day-to-day needs, the Grinch only sees his neighbors in Who-ville when he runs out of food.

Each year at Christmas they disrupt his tranquil solitude with their increasingly bigger, brighter and louder celebrations.  When the Whos declare they are going to make Christmas three times bigger this year, the Grinch realizes there is only one way for him to gain some peace and quiet: he must steal Christmas.  To do so, he decides he will pose as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, even going so far as to trap a lackadaisical misfit reindeer to pull his sleigh.

Meanwhile, down in Who-ville, Cindy-Lou Who—a young girl overflowing with holiday cheer—plots with her gang of friends to trap Santa Claus as he makes his Christmas Eve rounds so that she can thank him for help for her overworked single mother.  As Christmas approaches, however, her good-natured scheme threatens to collide with the Grinch’s more nefarious one.  Will Cindy-Lou achieve her goal of finally meeting Santa Claus?  Will the Grinch succeed in silencing the Whos’ holiday cheer once and for all? Check the contest details below the banner and find out with us! #staygeeky

He’s coming this holiday…for your toys

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TwitView: A Star Is Born (2018); in theaters FRI 10.05.18

TwiView: A Star Is Born (2018), Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook) stars and directs this immersive and beat banging remake.  From the start you’re treated to a barrage of original soul, blues, and rock music courtesy of co-star Lady Gaga (Machete) and Cooper, who each co-wrote the bulk of the films tracks.  This age old tale (redone for the 4th time?) follows an aging rocker, Jackson Maine (Cooper) who still has the fans and the sound, but is fading in a pop music world.  After accidentally discovering Ally (Gaga), they begin developing music and a relationship together.  No ‘rock love story’ ends happily ever after, and Jackson’s eventual descent into a booze and pill ridden lifestyle eventually takes its toll with he and Ally, his brother and manager (played so powerfully by the great Sam Elliott), and even on him.  If you’re a fan of blues-rock ‘ala’ Santana, Clapton or Page/Plant, the rock track ‘Black Eyes’ will slay you.  On the softer side is Cooper’s ‘Maybe It’s Time.’  This film will definitely garner some awards nominations; for Cooper it’ll be Oscar level for gaga it’ll be an MTV award.  The film runs a bit long at 138 minutes and you feel it in the 3rd act which seems to drag to its conclusion.  In the end, it’s a soulful and rocking good time watching these two blossom and the ultimate downer to see how their relationship falls apart.  B+

Bradley Cooper (Jackson Maine) and Lady Gaga (Ally) share a tender moment