My View: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023) PG-13 Archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is near retirement and feels the world has gone by him. But evil returns in the form of an old rival, and Indy must don the hat and pick up his whip one more time to keep a powerful artifact from falling into the wrong hands. The question is, will his God-daughter, Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge,) help or hinder this new adventure? The bigger question is this film better or worse than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? It’s far better than that dud of a movie, but that isn’t saying much. Dial of Destiny is a fun ride that takes you back to when Ford was younger (with the magic of CGI, which I did not dislike but some of my fellow critics hated) and was fighting Nazis. The CGI sequence was longer than I anticipated, but it helped set up the storyline for the rest of the film. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a lovely addition to the cast of characters that Indy has joined up with in past movies (many of which make an appearance or two). Helena is someone Indy loves, but simultaneously can’t always understand her motives for doing what she does. Her character subtlety brings up the idea that maybe what Indy has done for years (i.e., stealing artifacts for museums) is just as bad as Helena stealing them for profit. I loved the action sequences, with a fun and thrilling chase sequence that is a little on the unbelievable side but I still enjoyed it. My problem with the film is the final action sequence, which ends too easily and wraps up too tidily. Still, Dial of Destiny is an enjoyable sendoff to an iconic character that has become part of film history. I loved the last scene, and let’s hope this is Indy’s last adventure. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny allows our hero to kick a few more Nazi butts before riding off into the sunset, and that’s all we can ask. My Rating: Full Price Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Website Now playing in theatres nationwide
Familyfaire: Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken (2023) PG Ruby (voiced by Lana Condor) wants to be an ordinary high-school student. However, Ruby learns she comes from a fabled royal family of legendary Krakens and that her destiny lies in the depths of the waters. To make matters worse, Chelsea (voiced by Annie Murphy), the most popular girl in school, is a mermaid, the arch-enemies of Kraken. What’s a girl to do? This is your ordinary DreamWorks film (The Boss Baby, Trolls, The Croods, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar) with a storyline that teaches something and animation that doesn’t dazzle but is well done. In this case, learning how to embrace who you really are. The storyline is basic, and the twist is easy to figure out. Besides a weird little pet creature of Ruby’s, the characters aren’t very appealing, and none stand out. I liked Lana Condor as Ruby, and Annie Murphy does a great job as the popular girl in school who happens to be a mortal enemy mermaid, but both aren’t given much to work with. I think the underwater scenes will entertain little kids, but I wonder if the bad guy at the movie’s end is a little too scary for young kids. Overall, I think kids may have a good time watching Ruby discover who she is, but parents will be bored and watching the clock to signify the end. My Rating: Cable Ruby Gillman: Teenage Kraken Website Now playing in theatres nationwide.
Familyfaire: Nimona (2023) PG A knight, Ballister Boldheart (voiced by Riz Ahmed), in a futuristic, medieval world is framed for a crime he didn’t commit; the only one who comes to his defense is Nimona (voiced by Chloë Grace Moretz), a mischievous teen that causes mayhem everywhere she goes. The only problem is that the one who can help the knight prove his innocence, Nimona, is a shapeshifting creature he has vowed to destroy. I loved this movie. It’s a mix of old Arthurian knights mixed with futuristic flying motorcycles and magic. Nimona is not your typical character, as she wants desperately to become Ballister’s ‘sidekick’ while creating as much chaos as she can muster. This is not your ordinary kid’s animated film, as the main character, the brave knight Boldheart, is in a loving relationship with another male knight. That relationship crumbles when Boldheart is seen by everyone murdering the Queen, and Boldheart’s own love, Ambrousisu Goldenlion (voiced by Eugene Lee Yang), is forced to attack him to apprehend him. Nimona offers her help and uses her shapeshifting powers to rescue Boldheart. One catch: Boldheart must accept Nimona as his sidekick. The film is a wonderful tale of finding acceptance and even love for people different from you. What you fear (in this case, monsters) sometimes is just fear itself, and what you feared wasn’t the person but the unknown. Nimona is one of the best-animated characters I’ve seen in the last ten years, full of fun and fight. Nimona is a misunderstood character who wants to be seen and heard, not feared. Chloë Grace Moretz is a favorite of mine, and she lends her voice to a character filled with vitality, unable to contain her feelings and longing to find a place in this world. It’s a brilliant and fun performance. Let’s hope we see more adventures of the good knight Boldheart and his unique sidekick Nimona. My Rating; I Would Pay to See It Again. Nimona Website Now playing on the Netflix platform.
Indiefest: Run Rabbit Run (2023) Sarah (Sarah Snook) is a doctor and a mother. Sarah had a sister when she was younger who went missing at age seven and was never found. Now Mia (Lily LaTorre), Sarah’s daughter, begins claiming she is Sarah’s long-lost sister. Sarah must challenge her own beliefs and confront a ghost from the past. This film sadly wastes the talents of Sarah Snook, who is asked to constantly give us either a look of horror or surprise every minute or two of the film. The movie never finds a way to keep the momentum, as the film keeps abruptly stopping just as things get interesting. Run Rabbit Run is a film where you never know if what is happening is real or in Sarah’s mind. Most of the film’s horror aspects are either jump-out-of-the-dark scares or foreboding scenes that never pay off. I wanted more scares from this film, but it kept promising them, only to drop them for another cut to Sarah waking up to discover her daughter wasn’t where she was supposed to be. The film became repetitive very early on and never found a way out. I would give this a lower rating, but I loved how much Sarah Snook and Lily LaTorre put into their performances. I just wish the story had more substance. My Rating: Bargain Matinee Run Rabbit Run Website Now playing on the Netflix platform.
My View: Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed (2023) Documentary on superstar actor Rock Hudson who was a top office draw for most of his career and a ‘ladies man’ who hid his life as a gay man for decades. The documentary is less about Rock Hudson and his career and more about the Hollywood system that allowed gay men like Hudson to live their lives while the studios projected their stars to the public as heterosexual men who loved women and wanted to get married. The film gives us an inside look through countless interviews and pictures of Rock Hudson’s private life as he seemingly bedded every handsome man in Hollywood for 30 years. I came away from the film with the feeling that Hudson was a man who was loved by many and just was a man who had to hide who he was. Hudson was a man who loved life and lived it to its fullest while carrying on a separate public life as one of the biggest stars of the 50s and 60s. Things changed when in the 80s, the AIDS crisis hit, and Hudson was suddenly in the spotlight. A spotlight that he had hidden for a long, long time. My Rating: Full Price Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed Website Now playing on HBO and the Max platforms.
Forgotten Film: A Month by the Lake (1995) PG At a lake resort in Italy in 1937, a British spinster, Miss Bentley (Vanessa Redgrave), is on holiday when she meets the dashing Maj. Wilshaw (Edward Fox) and falls for him. Unfortunately, the Major only has eyes for a tall, beautiful American, Miss Beaumont (Uma Thurman), who loves to toy with men just because she can. This is a beautiful film, and Vanessa Redgrave is perfect as the older woman who lacks the confidence to think she could compete with a woman like Miss Beaumont. However, Miss Bentley discovers that there is a skill in flirting, and she just might have a chance. A Month by the Lake is a delightful British romantic comedy that we see little of nowadays. My Rating: Full Price A Month by the Lake Info The film is available to rent/buy on both Amazon and Apple TV.
Weird Credits: From Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny: Balloon Decorator
Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Meg 2: The Trench (2023) PG-13. I could describe what is going on, but all you need to know is in the trailer. The music is Heart’s ‘Barracuda’ and giant sharks are eating tourists, and Jason Statham is on a Wave runner with a samurai sword. And the poster is epic! Meg 2: The Trench Website The film is in theatres on Aug. 4th.