Friday, December 13, 2019

Jumanji: The Next Level

My View: Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) PG-13   The gang (Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan) is back, and this time it’s a rescue mission. In order to escape the most dangerous game, they will have to go into an unknown country full of arid deserts and snowy mountains. While not quite as fun and inventive as the first film in this series, it’s still a thrilling and hilarious ride. The same characters are back, but there is a twist (quite a good one) that lets everyone in the cast have a blast. I don’t want to give away who or what Awkwafina plays in the film, but as with everything she is in, she steals the film from the regular cast. If you enjoyed the first film or even the original Jumanji that starred Robin Williams, I think you will have a great time on this adventure.   My Rating: Full Price    Jumanji: The Next Level Webpage
My View: Richard Jewell (2019) R   A security guard Richard Jewell (Paul Walter Hauser) is initially hailed a hero when he saves thousands from an exploding bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Soon the FBI and the press believe that Richard is not a hero but the bomber himself. Clint Eastwood, in the last ten years, has had somewhat up and down success with the movies he has directed. There were a couple of winners with The Mule (2018) and American Sniper (2014), but too often his films lately have felt like Eastwood has just been going through the motions, like the horrible Jersey Boys (2014) and the boring The 15:17 to Paris (2018). While not the quality of Eastwood's earlier work like Letters from Iwo Jima (2006) or Million Dollar Baby (2004), Richard Jewell is still a good film with some outstanding performances. Paul Walter Hauser does an exceptional job as Jewell, a man who wanted so badly to be a law enforcement officer who when given chances to become one, blew it by being overzealous in his methods. Kathy Bates is almost sure to get a supporting actress nomination for her portrayal of Richard’s mother, a woman who always believed her son was a hero. For me, the actor that hit it out of the park was Sam Rockwell, as Jewell’s attorney, a crusty lawyer who sees that Richard is the victim of a system looking for a quick villain to prosecute. My one problem with the film is the two characters that are instrumental with Richard being persecuted; Olivia Wilde’s reporter character, who will go as far as to sleep with someone for inside information and Jon Hamm, playing the lead FBI agent who is willing to give her that information. Both characters feel like something out of a bad daytime soap opera and bring the story down quite a bit. These two characters lessen the film’s impact, but the film still has the performances of Hauser, Bates, and Rockwell to keep it upright.   My Rating: Full Price     Richard Jewell Facebook Page
My View: The Two Popes (2019) PG-13   The conservative Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) reign is plagued by a corruption scandal. He invites the liberal and future Pope Francis Jonathan Pryce) to the Vatican to discuss life and try to find common ground. Watching the two actors in Hopkins and Pryce work on the screen together is a joy. The two actors are let down by a second half of the film that can’t match the quality or charm of the first half of the film when we get to know the two men. The second half feels a little too much like a stage play and at times, becomes slightly boring. I did enjoy the back and forth of the two characters as they slowly find common ground and while each man may not agree with the other, they can, by the end of the film, acknowledge that the other man has made some good points for his side of their outlook on the Catholic church and its traditions.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee     The Two Popes Website
My View: Black Christmas (2019) PG-13   A group of female students are stalked by a stranger during their Christmas break, only to learn that the killer is part of an underground college conspiracy. Well, we are close to the end of the year, and I have to say, this film could have just made it to the top of the worst films of 2019. With a plot that makes no sense and dialogue that had to written by an Autobot, this film seems twice as long as its 93 minutes run time. There is a plot twist so out of left field that it took me a full five minutes to make sense of what happened. There is a reason that this movie was not screened ahead of time to film critics, because it is rotten. There is a short bonus scene at the end of the initial credits at the end but its not worth staying for.    My Rating: You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again     Black Christmas Website
Forgotten Film Son of Rambow (2007) PG-13   The story of two unlikely friends; Will (Bill Milner), a young boy who loves cartooning, inventing things and 80s action movies and Lee (Will Poulter) whose life is strictly limited due to his family’s religious beliefs. The two boys bond over the Rambo film First Blood and they decide to film their own Rambo movie. The making of the movie will involve stealing a guide dog, setting off their school’s fire alarm, and almost getting run over by a Jeep. Both boys have home lives that are less than ideal and use the movie making to escape into a world of their own creation. While the storyline is a little weak, the chemistry between the two boys is off the charts, and the fun that they have creating their movie is infectious. Let’s hope that Will and Lee went on to make many more films.    My Take: Full Price     Son of Rambow Info

Weird Credits: From the credits of Jumanji: The Next Level: Greens Coordinator

Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Way Back (2020)   A former high school basketball star (Ben Affleck) is struggling to overcome his alcoholism and is offered a job to coach at his alma mater. When his team starts on a winning stream, his old demons resurface to try to stop his road to redemption. This film seems right up in Affleck’s wheelhouse, though the trailer leaves me a little worried that it might be just a little sappy.      The Way Back Website
Until Next Time!

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