Geek For E!

TwiView: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020), A-

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 (B+)

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!

BB4L (2020)
This time, it’s personal

TwiView: Dolittle (2020)

After losing the love of his life Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) shuts himself and the doors of his animal sanctuary off from the world. That is until Queen Victoria (Jessie Buckley) is taken ill, and Dr. Dolittle is summoned to help her. With the help of a young boy Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett) and Dr. Dolittle’s animal friends, Poly (Emma Thompson), Chee-Chee (Rami Malek), Yoshi (John Cena), Plimpton (Kumail Nanjiani), and Dab-Dab (Octavia Spencer), they all set sail to find the one thing that will cure the Queen.

Dolittle will have you laughing out loud from start to finish. It is also a movie that helps to remind us there is nothing we can’t overcome. Especially when we have great friends by our side. Dolittle has an amazing all-star cast that also contains Antonio Banderas as King Rassouli, Michael Sheen as Dr. Blair Müdfly, Jim Broadbent as Lord Thomas Badgley, Tom Holland as Jip, Craig Robinson as Kevin, Ralph Fiennes as Barry, Selena Gomez as Betsy, and Marion Cotillard as Tutu.

While it was refreshing to see Robert Downey Jr. in a role outside of Iron Man it was really the animated animals who stole the movie. Chee-Chee (Rami Malek), Yoshi (John Cena), and Plimpton (Kumail Nanjiani) have some of the funniest lines in the movie and will have you rolling with laughter. Dolittle is rated PG, and is a movie all ages can see and enjoy. I give Dolittle a B+. You can find Dolittle in theaters Friday, January 17, 2020. (R. Barry)

TwiView: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker the battle between the Resistance and the First Order rages on while Rey (Daisey Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) continue their journey to find out who they truly are. In the conclusion of the Star Wars saga, fans will find themselves torn between the good and the bad. During parts, The Rise of Skywalker is fantastic, such as the visuals, but it has many parts that will leave you shaking your head. The Rise of Skywalker also brings back stars John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Issac (Poe), and Kelly Marie Tran (Rose), but some of the stand out characters in The Rise of Skywalker are the Droid C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and newcomer Babu Frik. Director J.J. Abrams was given a huge task to not only finish the Star Wars saga but also try to tie up every loose end left by The Last Jedi, and I feel he did the best he could with what he had.

Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker

So, how do I rate the movie? As a Star Wars fan, I rate the movie a B. It is rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and action. There is death, a little bit of blood, some curse words, and of course scary Sith. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters December 20th. (R.Barry)

TwiView: Jumanji, The Next Level (A-)

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)

TwiView: Knives Out (2019)

Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is a popular crime novelist with an entitled and eccentric family. When Harlan is found dead after his 85th birthday party the police and Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) come in to investigate. Even though the police believe Harlan’s death to be an open and shut case Detective Blanc has the feeling nothing is as it seems. Soon Detective Blanc learns almost every one of Harlan’s family members is hiding something and has a possible motive. Who killed Harlan, and why?

Hands down the best whodunnit movie of the year. With an all-star cast that includes Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, and Toni Collette it is Daniel Craig and Chris Evans who give the standout performances and provide some of the best quotable movie lines that will have you rolling with laughter. Even those who are not murder/mystery movie fans will be entertained by Knives Out. I give Knives Out an A. Even though Knives Out is rated PG-13 it does contain a lot of strong language and violence. Opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 27, 2019. (R. Barry)  

A Look Inside A Movie World Premiere After-party

On November 7, 2019, one of Geek for E’s contributors, Rachel Barry, had the opportunity to attend the World Premiere of Frozen 2 on behalf of her blog. She walked the red carpet, saw the world premiere of Frozen 2, and attended the after-party. So, what happens during a movie premiere after-party? Here’s a quick sneak peek!

Location and Photo Ops

The Frozen 2 World Premiere was held at the Dolby Theater in LA. (It’s where they hold the Oscars!) After the premiere, we took the elevator up to the after-party where it was all Frozen themed. There were photo ops galore! You had the chance to take pictures with Olaf, Anna, and Elsa. This helped to spread the after-party crowd out since they had photo ops outside the party and inside the party perimeter.

Photo Ops. (Courtesy of R. Barry, Pretty in Baby Food)
Photo Ops. (Courtesy of R. Barry, Pretty in Baby Food)

Food/Drink

The main food was done by Wolfgang Puck catering, McDonald’s chicken nuggets were available, and there was an open bar. The food consisted of many kid’s favorites such as vegetables, mac & cheese and hotdogs. Which was genius since there were a lot of children in attendance for the after-party. There aren’t many places to sit unless you are a celebrity or part of their party so you eat real quick and then you go mingle and participate in the activities.

Celebrities

Of course, the cast and crew of Frozen 2 were also in attendance at the after-party. Many attended the premiere and after-party with their families. I had the honor of being able to meet Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, and Jason Ritter. All three gentlemen are so nice!

Sterling K. Brown
I got to meet Sterling K. Brown! (Courtesy of R. Barry Pretty in Baby Food)

Activities

One of my favorite things about the Frozen 2 after-party was the activities. They had different activity stations sponsored by different companies. Build-A-Bear sponsored a Charades booth where you could win prizes. Lego had a build your own snowman booth. Colorpop sponsored a Royal Treatment booth where you could get some Frozen 2 lip gloss. And much more! It was an amazing experience and I am so honored to have had the chance to go!

When R. Barry isn’t contributing to Geek For E you can find her writing over on her own blog Pretty in Baby Food where she covers lifestyle, entertainment, and travel.

TwiView: Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

Judgment day came for all of the Terminator movies after Terminator 2, and they have been Terminated. Terminator: Dark Fate occurs over twenty years after the end of Judgement Day, and it delivers the original Terminator feel. Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) saved humanity and stopped Judgement Day, but still ended up losing the most important thing in her life, her son John who is killed by a T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger). It seems though humanity never learns from its mistakes, and one A.I. (Skynet) is replaced by another A.I. (Legion). Hell-bent on wiping out the human race Legion sends its own Terminator, Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna), back in time to kill Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes). To help Dani survive in the past the human resistance sends back an augmented human, Grace (Mackenzie Davis), to protect her.

But Grace isn’t the only help Dani has. No longer running from Terminators Sarah Connor has a new purpose in life, to hunt them. Receiving information from an unknown ally Sarah arrives just in time to help Grace and Dani escape Rev-9, and she decides to continue to help protect Dani in the hopes of preventing another apocalyptic future.

Terminator: Dark fate brings back the nostalgia of the first 2 movies thanks to the return of Linda Hamilton and James Cameron. If you are a Terminator fan you will enjoy and be entertained by Dark Fate. Linda Hamilton and Mackenzie Davis are the stand out actors and provide some of the best action and lines in the movie. I give Terminator: Dark Fate a B-. It’s entertaining, leaves you with questions, but is unfortunately predictable. The movie is rated R due to violence, language, and nudity. Out in theaters 11/1/19. (R. Barry)

The Lion King (2019); Free Screening, Bloomberg Philanthropies (FRI 10.25.19)

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

Facebook: facebook.com/bloombergdotorg         Facebook: facebook.com/Tribeca

29Rooms: Expand Your Reality is Headed to D.C.

29Rooms: Expand Your Reality is headed to D.C. in October. What is 29Rooms? It is a traveling immersive art installation by Refinery29. We had a chance to interview Olivia Fagon, the creative director of 29Rooms, to get a sneak peek into the makings of 29Rooms.

Can you explain the concept of pop-up art installments like 29Rooms?

When 29Rooms launched in 2015 it was a first of its kind experience; our hope then was to create an event that didn’t make our audience just spectators but actually invited them to feel, see and touch our very digital brand. That idea of centering your audience in a space that is immersive and visually-inspiring but not hands-off is at the heart of how we approach the event.  That obviously dovetailed with the how our audience is using social media, making spaces and experiences that give them a stage to capture and make their own content. 

So, we all know it’s called 29Rooms, based off of Refinery29, but are there really 29Rooms?

Yes, within 29Rooms, there are 29 unique experiences. We’ve pushed past defining a room as just a literal four-walled space. Here a room can mean an installation, stand-alone artworks, workshops, performances – that together act as a tasting menu of the conversations and culture our audience cares about across art, entertainment, activism, style and technology — all housed under one roof. 

Which room has been your favorite over the years?

I’ve loved so many of the rooms we’ve brought to life. There are a few that have stood out because they’ve changed the way we thought about what 29Rooms is and what it could be. “Inner Beauty Ball” a recreated phoneless nightclub we popped up in the middle of our venue with New York’s House of Yes confirmed how much our guests were looking to get off their phones and self-release. A lot of my favorite rooms have been collaborations with underrepresented voices or rooms that have give our audience artful and accessible ways-in to difficult but real pro-social conversations. For example, creating our own LGBTQIA+ Pride float in collaboration with artist Marina Fini at 29Rooms San Francisco and collaborating on a commemorative alter to Chicago gun violence with artist Shani Crowe at 29Rooms Chicago. 

And then I’m always excited by our celebrity collaborations that have real insight or cultural commentary at their center. A 360 video installation we created with Lena Waith last year documenting the black experience in the United States is a great example. 

What has been your biggest challenge putting together 29Rooms?

The main challenge is making space for the very unique and very different visions of so many artists and creatives while keeping one cohesive theme and the Refinery29 POV across the entire event. It’s a balancing act. We have to be flexible in our process of developing each artist’s experience, working around very different skill sets and often working with artists who maybe haven’t brought their work to life three-dimensionally or in a physical space before. And secondly, the challenge of continuing to reinvent and evolve the experience. We pioneered a new event concept when we launched 5 years ago, bringing our audience a snapshot of our brand and culture in a totally unique way, and we want to continue to innovate while still keeping what our audience and fans have loved about 29Rooms.

How do you choose the room themes?

The 29Rooms team is made up of a wide range of very talented creatives, designers and producers who develop the overarching tour for almost a year. We start by looking outward, working with our team of editors and creatives who speak to our audience daily, to capture the most relevant and forward thinking conversations across fashion, art, beauty, politics, etc. in one cohesive vision for the event, our theme. We also consider ways we want to evolve the event based on the event landscape (How can we innovate experiential?), our audience’s feedback (What did our guests love from last year’s 29Rooms?) and our own internal ambitions for the event (What’s next for 29Roomst?). We then start assembling our individual room experiences through our collaborator search, reaching out to a diverse list of always incredible talent with a specific vision or topic for a room that we want to create with them. It’s a lot of moving pieces but those key components of research, inspiration, feedback and collaborators always sets the foundation.  

How do you choose room sponsors, and do they work with Refinery29 to come up with a room theme, or do they design them themselves?

We look for partners who see real value in having a more direct, one-on-one conversation with our audience. Whether it’s a product launch with Reebok or a new campaign with Bare Minerals, we want our branded rooms to enhance the design, atmosphere and narrative of the event, so our creative approach is to build their experiences FOR the audience versus marketing to them. 

We collaborate directly with our partners to bring their own dedicated rooms to life, which our in-house creative, design and production team co-creates with them. 29Rooms is not an event where guests will see big logos plastered everywhere. Instead, we give our brands a heartbeat and apply the same creative and design principles to their spaces that we do across the event to ensure that they show up in a way that’s artful, authentic and meaningful. 

How do you go about finding the local artists for the different tour stops?

It’s important to us that we make space for the amazing creative communities that are in each city so we continue to collaborate with local artists on rooms and experiences at each tour stop. For example, we’re working with Trap Bob and Jamea Richmond-Edwards for the Washington DC stop of the Expand Your Reality tour.

Once we confirmed our tour schedule the team did a month-long search for emerging artists at each city, tapping our own networks, talent teams, Instagram and wider online research into the cultural spaces of those cities to find a long list of artists who reflect their city and share the forward-thinking Refinery29 spirit. Our creative partnership with those artists is then always a two-way dialogue; we bring a very clear vision of what we want the final experience to be (whether it’s the interaction, the visuals or the final takeaway for our guests) and then work with them collaboratively, across creative, design and production, till it’s live at 29Rooms. 

Are you concerned people are too focused on getting that perfect shot for social media that they end up missing the messages behind the rooms?

We’ve seen so much of the event’s impact come through our guests being able to use 29Rooms as a stage to comment, express a POV or share a personal story through the content they capture inside. Because the messages behind our rooms, whether we’re talking about spirituality or body image or voting rights, are directly inspired by what matters to the R29 audience, we’ve always seen a lot of harmony between what they take away on-site and what they end up posting.   

For Expand Your Reality tour though we’ve pushed a lot of experiences to be exclusively interactive and hands-on. With experiences that invite introspection like writing a letter to your inner child or hands-on art making, live dance performances and phone-free experiences we’re also challenging our guests to open up and engage with themselves and strangers in new ways in real time at the event. 

29Rooms will have a 15-day stop from October 18 – 27 at DC Armory. You can learn more about 29 Rooms’, or purchase tickets, on their website HERE.