My View: Thor: Love and Thunder (2022) PG-13 Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is trying to deal with the aftermath of the Avengers' battle with Thanos. Should he retire and give up being a superhero? However, there is a new foe to fight, Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale), and Thor asks his friends to help take down Gorr, who intends to make the gods extinct. Sometimes it’s nice to sit down to a film and just enjoy it for what it is, instead of what we critics do, analyze the crap out of a movie. I’m not going to lie; this is a step down from the brilliance of Thor: Ragnarok, which exploited the fact that Chris Hemsworth has the ability to be an action hero with a comic flair that makes watching his Thor so much fun. Ragnarok was a breath of fresh air, a revelation that action movies could be fun again. And because of that, this film can’t quite meet film, but Love and Thunder is still a funny, fun ride as Thor has to deal with the love of his life, Jane (Natalie Portman), coming back into his life and boy, does she make an entrance. I’m not giving away too much (it's not only in the trailer but on the poster) that Jane is now in possession of Thor’s old hammer, Mjolnir, and has become The Mighty Thor. I loved Jane trying to come up with a catchphrase (as all superheroes must) and how she settles so quickly into becoming a superhero before Thor’s amazed eyes. I have missed Jane (Portman has taken off the last almost ten years away from the MCU, but I am glad she came back and had fun in the role that lets her be more than someone to rescue from the bad guy. I enjoyed this film, filled with humor and plenty of action, including Jane Foster kicking some serious butt. Add in Christian Bale as a bad guy, screaming goats, and a bunch of angry Gods, and you have a tale that is a blast to watch. So buy a giant soda and some overpriced popcorn, sit down, and have a good time. I promise that in the next MCU film, I’ll go back to overanalyzing how many 'Easter eggs' are too many in a movie before it becomes annoying. And yes, there are mid and final credits scenes to stay for. My Rating: Full Price Thor: Love and Thunder Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
Familyfaire: The Sea Beast (2022) PG In a time when giant, terrifying beasts inhabited the seas, a great monster hunter, Jacob Holland (Karl Urban), sailed the waters seeking adventure and fortune. When young Maisie (Zaris-Angel Hator) stows away on Jacob’s ship, he is given an unexpected ally to embark on an epic journey to uncharted waters and hunt a legendary sea beast. With an animation style that continues to astound with its complexity and beauty, an original story filled with creative monsters and colorful characters, and enough action scenes to make any adventure film fan notice, you have a family film that all ages will love. The film tells the story of courage, filled with heroes swashbuckling their way across oceans, living their lives like every day could be their last. But this is also about learning what’s written in history books isn’t always the whole story. That the victors write the story, and it’s often one-sided. Kids will fall in love with Maisie, an orphan who wants to follow in her parent's footsteps and hunt sea monsters. She is the story's hero, a kid willing to see both sides of the story and realizes that maybe what she has been told all her life is tilted toward making people think the sea beasts are monsters. With Jacob’s help, which comes slowly, Maisie is able to find a way to see the monsters for more than just the killers they have been labeled. The Sea Beast is a fun, rollicking tale that is a feast for the eyes and will lift your spirits and maybe bring a tear or two. My Rating: Full Price The Sea Beast Website Now playing in select theatres and on the Netflix platform.
My View: Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between (2022) Claire (Talia Ryder) and Aidan (Jordan Fisher) have been high school sweethearts, in love and having a great time together. However, they made a pact; they would break up before going off to college. Before they break up, they will spend one last night revisiting important places that made their relationship meaningful. The question is, will they break up or stay together before the end of the night? I have a feeling that fans of the book will enjoy the film; the rest of us might be a bit bored with a predictable storyline and, at times, pushes the sappiness factor to the limit. This is a story that has been told before, young love, where one of the lovers has issues that must be overcome if their love is going to last. The story is told in a series of flashbacks, showing how their love developed and grew; all the while, Aidan is trying to show Claire, through recreating their year, that their love can survive being apart when they go off to separate schools. The couple of Ryder and Fisher does have some chemistry, and both are fun to watch, but they are let down by a storyline that fails to keep the spark going for long. By the film's end, will you care if the two stay together? I know I didn’t. My Rating: Cable Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between Website Now playing on the Netflix platform.
My View: The Road to Galena (2022) R Cole (Ben Winchell) has everything you could want: a beautiful wife, a successful career as a lawyer on the fast track, and a wonderful house in a big city. However, Cole has always done what was expected of him, what his powerful father wanted him to do. Now Cole has a chance to return to the small community he grew up in and do something he has dreamed of since he was a child: become a farmer. This is the story of Cole, a man who, for years, followed the dreams of others instead of following his own. When I saw the trailer, I expected this to be another one of those films where the hero of the story finds God and turns his life around after years of following the wrong path. I was pleasantly surprised that this isn’t one of those stories but rather a film about following one's dreams, even if it takes a bunch of missteps to find it. The film takes a little too long to tell the story, as we go backwards to see Cole at his happiest, in high school, with his girlfriend. Elle (Aimee Teegarden) and his best friend, Jack (Will Brittain) at his side. Cole sees college in his future but is sure he is coming back to become a farmer and marry Elle. Instead, Cole lets life get in the way, making choices that pull him further and further away from the life he thought he was destined to live. Cole follows the path that his father wants for his only son, feeling pressure from his parents and unable to resist the lure of making money. Along the way, Cole loses his girlfriend and his dream of farming. The film loses a bit of steam in its second half, as there are a couple of ground-shattering events that shake up Cole’s life, but he doesn’t seem to let them affect his continued path of being a lawyer, and that keeps the story from ending when it should. Still, I enjoyed this story of a man who loses his way, only to find it when most would have given up and stayed the course. My Rating: Bargain Matinee The Road to Galena Website Now playing in select theatres.
Indiefest: Apples (2020) Apples take place in a time of a worldwide pandemic that causes sudden amnesia, where the sick don’t remember anything, including their name. Aris (Aris Servetalis), a middle-aged man, is enrolled in a recovery program designed to help patients build their lives from the ground up. This is a hard film to describe, but I will try. Think of it as a film starring a man with the deadpan face of Buster Keaton combined with the sad-sack posture of someone who is just sleepwalking through life. Aris is a man who has lost his memory, he doesn’t know who he is, and no one comes to claim him while he is recovering in the hospital. So Aris is sent out into the world to live on his own, with a tape player giving him daily tasks to undertake and an instant camera to record his completed tasks. Aris completes these tasks, each one sillier than the next, with a determination that feels more like resignation than someone who wants to recover his past. Apples is a film that slowly builds, letting us into Aris’s world, a world that doesn't make much sense, but he is willing to go along for the ride. This is one of those films that moves along at its own pace, letting us see how silly this world is. And by the way, this film has an ending that makes it all worth watching. My Rating: Full Price Apples Website Now playing in select theatres.
My View: Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (2021) PG I was a little early in reviewing this film, so I am rerunning this review, so you won’t miss how good this film is. Marcel the Shell (voiced by Jenny Slate) lives in an Airbnb with his grandmother Connie (voiced by Isabella Rossellini). Marcel and Connie were separated from the rest of their family when the homeowners broke up, and Marcel’s family and friends were accidentally packed away in the move. Marcel’s luck is about to change when a filmmaker (Dean Fleischer-Camp) moves into the Airbnb and begins filming Marcel, putting his adventures on the Internet. Can Marcel’s newfound fame help him find his lost family? I am a fan of the Marcel the Shell shorts that got a massive reception on YouTube. They were funny, adorable, and highly creative. I am happy to say that making the shorts into a full-length feature film hasn’t lost any of the magic of those shorts. You will fall in love with Marcel and his adorable outlook on life. Jenny Slate is perfect as the voice of Marcel, giving him a personality full of hope, wonder, and kindness, along with a wicked sense of humor. Like in the shorts, the film lets Slate riff on many subjects, especially when she is talking with the filmmaker documenting Marcel’s life, making this film a joy to watch. There were times I was laughing so hard that I didn’t get all the dialogue that Marcel was spouting. The storyline is sweet and heartwarming as Marcel goes on a quest to find his long-lost family. You will fall in love with Marcel and want to experience more of his adventures after seeing this film. And if you are still not convinced about seeing this film, Isabella Rossellini, as Marcel’s grandmother, will fill your heart with warmth and love. Bring the whole family and see the world through the eyes of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. My Rating: Full Price Marcel the Shell with Shoes On Website Now playing in select theatres.
Forgotten Film: The Opportunists (1999) R Vic Kelly (Christopher Walken) is a man struggling to do the right thing, but life often puts up roadblocks, and Vic may have to return to doing what he has done in the past, stealing. Vic is dealing with an aunt in a nursing home, a wayward daughter (Vera Farmiga) who is dating the wrong type of guy, and a woman (Cyndi Lauper) who is interested in Vic, but only if he stays on the straight and narrow. In walks Michael (Peter McDonald), a maybe cousin from Ireland, who has heard stories about Vic and wants to do a job with him. As debts mount up, Vic decides its fate and will do one last job. The Opportunists is a slow-burn film with excellent performances by Walken and a very low-key Lauper, whose characters have a relationship that is real and moving. The film has an ending that is a bit of a surprise, but it's the performances that make this film worth watching. My Rating: Full Price The Opportunists Website
Weird Credits: From the credits of Thor: Love and Thunder: Creature Suit Standby
Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: Thirteen Lives (2022) PG-13 The rescue mission that captured the world’s attention is now a feature film! A youth soccer team and its coach are trapped in a system of underground caves that are quickly flooding. A rescue mission is formed, and an unlikely group of divers is assembled to try to figure out a way to save the boys from an impossible situation. The story has already been told in an outstanding documentary, The Rescue, but the film stars Viggo Mortensen, Joel Edgerton, and Colin Farrell and is directed by two-time Oscar-winner Ron Howard, so I am willing to see this story told again. Thirteen Lives Website