Friday, March 22, 2024

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

My View: Ghostbuster: Frozen Empire (2024) PG-13 The Spengler family returns to the iconic New York City firehouse, where it all began to team up with some of the original Ghostbusters. Their mission is to stop an evil force unleashed by an ancient artifact that threatens to turn the world into a second Ice Age. I am a big fan of the original 1984 Ghostbusters film directed by Ivan Reitman. Made at the height of Bill Murray’s appeal as a comedic leading man, and with a fun and original storyline, the film took the world by storm. In my review I let you know that wasn’t a big fan of the Ghostbusters: Afterlife film that came out in 2021, feeling that it was stealing a lot from the original movie, and Paul Rudd isn’t even close to filling Bill Murray’s shoes. I had some hope for this film since they were returning to NYC, where it all began, and some of the original cast would be in it. I liked this film more than the 2021 one, but not by a lot. I am not a huge fan of Dan Aykroyd, and he has a lot of screen time in this film. Aykroyd always delivers lines like he is also passing a kidney stone at the same time. The film tries to capture some of the old magic by bringing back a bunch of the characters from the original, including a few favorite ghosts (I do love the antics of the little stay puff guys), but it seems like they are trying too hard. I was glad they made the setting NYC, where the series belongs, making the city part of the cast. I remember being wowed by the 1984 special effects, but this time, it seemed the effects were on the cheap, as I was never scared by the big evil guy, probably the worst villain ever in the Ghostbuster series. And yes, Bill Murray shows up, but they don’t give him much to do. Way to waste a talent there. There is a funny scene after the first bit of end credits that is worth staying for.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire Website Now playing in theaters.

My View: Immaculate (2024) R  Cecilia (Sydney Sweeney) is a woman who believes God has a plan for her. She is warmly welcomed to her new convent with open arms. But it becomes clear to Cecilia that the convent is not what it appears to be, harboring dark and horrifying secrets. Sydney Sweeney loved the story idea so much that she found a screenwriter, produced the film, and found a studio to buy it. I am a fan of Sweeney, but maybe she should find someone else to find her material. The film is full of empty jump scares, a plot that holds no mystery, and not a lot of horror. It’s a storyline that is easy to figure out with the church leaders doing something terrible, and our girl Cecilia is a little slow in picking up the signs that something is wrong. The film is incredibly slow, with a lot of Cecilia going around the convent at night with just a candle. I did enjoy the inventive ending, but it takes a long time to get there. My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Immaculate Website It is now playing in theaters.

My View: Roadhouse (2024) R  A down on his luck, former UFC fighter Elwood Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal) ends up working at a ‘Road House,’ a rowdy bar in the Florida Keys. Hired to clean up the troublemakers in the bar, it turns out the job is a lot more complicated than that. One key thing, don’t piss Dalton off. So the original 1989 movie became a hit, not because of a big box office (it did ok) but because it played on cable stations almost non-stop and had a winning cast in Patrick Swayze, Sam Elliot, and Kelly Lynch as the love interest. There are some considerable differences between this film and that beloved original. The first is that while Gyllenhaal is a better actor than Swayze, Patrick had a likability as an on-screen presence that made you want to root for his character. Gyllenhaal tries to be the kooky, nice guy, but it doesn’t quite work. Second, there isn’t a Sam Elliot character in the film, so there is no one to play off Gyllenhaal or give us the reason Dalton goes rogue at the end of the film. The fight sequences are shot incredibly awkwardly, with some point-of-view shots of a beat-up Gyllenhaal that I didn’t need. And finally, the bad guy doesn’t have the menace that Ben Garza had in the original. In this movie, Ben Magnussen plays the son of a crime boss who is out of his league and can’t help but mess up. The ending of this film doesn’t come even close to the satisfying ending of the original. Now I will say, just like the original, there are a few laughs, especially brought to the screen by UFC bad boy Connor McGregor, who plays his part of the ultra-tough guy brought in to kill Dalton. McGregor chews up scenery and swaggers about as if he is getting paid by how many times he shows his butt. Still, I feel Amazon made a mistake and didn’t release this in theatres, where crowds could cheer as the beer bottles crash against the band’s cage and Dalton gives it to a few drunk bad guys. Stay through the first part of the credits for a bonus scene that may set up a sequel.    My Rating: Bargain Matinee   Road House Website  Now playing on Amazon Prime.

Indiefest: They Shot the Piano Player (2023) PG-13 This animated docudrama is about Jess (voiced by Jeff Goldblum), a music journalist, who travels to Brazil to uncover the truth about a young samba-jazz pianist, Tenório Júnior, who disappeared without a trace in 1976 after a promising start of his music career. The film uses beautiful animation with a fantastic jazz soundtrack that captures the spirit of the samba-jazz craze of the 60s. They Shot the Piano Player is a perfect introduction to a jazz form that few know about. The film does an amazing job of letting the people who knew Tenorio and what an amazing pianist he was, while letting us know about how quickly people disappeared in South America countries during this time, sometimes for very little reason. It’s a perfect way to capture a place in time when samba ruled the airwaves and the bars of not just Brazil but the world.   My Rating: Full Price  They Shot the Piano Player Website Now playing in theaters. 

My View: Shirley (2024) PG-13  Shirley tells the story of Shirley Chisholm (Regina King), who made history as the first Black woman elected to Congress and to run for President in the 1972 election. So you know when you see that Regina King is playing the lead character, you will get a performance worthy of watching. I wish the film was on the same level as her performance. Shirley feels like someone gave John Ridley a bullet-point presentation of Shirley Jacksons’ run for the Democratic nomination for President in 1972, and he followed it to the letter. Other than getting to see Shirley on her first few days as a congresswoman and verbally tearing down a fellow freshman congressman in the halls, we don’t get a lot of background on her. We are almost instantly thrown into the race without a lot of information on why she thought this would work. We get to see how Shirley played the game of politics, but we didn’t get to know why. I wanted more from this film, and frankly, I got more out of the closing credits when we learn what happened to a lot of the principal players in her run than I did in the film itself. Still, watching Regina King work her magic on the screen is always fun.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Shirley Website Now playing on Netflix.

Indiefest: Riddle of Fire (2023) PG-13 Riddle of Fire starts when their mother asks three children to run an errand to the grocery store. Their journey will be filled with kidnappings, battles with a witch and fairies, and a showdown with a huntsman. This is a fun film about the adventures of three friends who go on a quest to get some eggs to make a pie so that their mother will let them play video games. The opening sequence, where the three successfully carry out a raid on a warehouse to steal a new gaming console, is so much fun. The film relies on you believing that the kids think the world is filled with witches and fairies, and that another adventure is just around the corner. It’s about how you could spend a whole day with your friends fighting off the bad guys to save the day. The film slows down a bit in the second half, and some of the performances are lacking, even so, the three kids have a lot of charm besides, did it all really happen? To the three heroes of the story, it did, and that’s all that matters.  My Rating; Bargain Matinee  Riddle of Fire Website Now playing in theaters

My View: Late Night with the Devil (2023) R  A live television broadcast in 1977 goes horribly wrong, unleashing an unspeakable evil into the nation’s living rooms. The movie is centered around footage from a late-night talk show, with some behind-the-scenes footage thrown in. It’s an exciting film that plays with many stereotypical late-night talk show tropes. Halloween night is when the show is broadcast live. The guests are a man who can talk to the dead, a former magician who now spends his time debunking people who say they can talk to the dead or the devil, and a woman who claims one of her patients can take the form of the devil. Into the mix is the talk show host, played by David Dastamlchian, named Jack Delroy, who, after he lost his wife to cancer, is trying to revive his talk show by doing stunt shows like this one. Nevertheless, things start to deteriorate, like the man who converses with the dead experiencing a seizure on live television. As it becomes clear that something is not right in the studio, things only get worse. This is a fun and occasionally terrifying adaptation of the horror film genre, with a touch of nostalgia for the old late-night talk show format. I loved David Dastamichian, who plays the host and is willing to go the extra mile to save his show until he realizes it’s gone too far. He is perfect in portraying the man who believes he is the smartest and most talented person in the room, but is really not. The film perfectly captures the talk show look and feel of the late 70s, which makes it a blast to watch. I’m not totally happy with the ending, but up to that point, it’s a fun ride back to a time when everyone watched late-night talk shows and talked about it around the water cooler the next day. I wonder what they said after they saw this broadcast? My Rating: Full Price   Late Night with the Devil Website  Now playing in theaters.  

Forgotten Film: The Last Samurai (2003) R Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise), a Civil War vet, is hired by the Japanese emperor to train the emperor’s army in the ways of modern warfare and defeat an army of traditional samurai warriors led by Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe). Algren’s army is badly routed, and he is wounded, but Katsumoto spares his life. Algren soon learns the ancient ways of warfare are honorable and he decides to help Katsumoto’s quest. Because of the success of the FX/Hulu TV series Shogun, I thought I would revisit this film, which doesn’t always come up when discussing Tom Cruise’s career. The Last Samurai is a film that is not your ordinary white savior type of film. The film is more about two warriors finding common ground and respect, with Algren learning that there is more to life than just killing by the easiest way possible. Cruise plays off of Watanabe well, and there are some incredible battle sequences that make this film work so well.   My Rating: Full Price  The Last Samurai Info The film is available to rent/buy on Amazon.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire: Hair Punching

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: Monkey Man (2024) R Monkey Man is about a man (Dev Patel) who wears a gorilla mask when he enters the ring as he fights for money. This man has a plan, and it involves violence and getting revenge for the murder of his father by corrupt leaders. The film won the Audience Award at the 2024 SXSW Film Festival.  Monkey Man Website  The film will be in theatres on Friday, April 5th.

Until Next Time!

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