|By date||Most helpful reviews||By my score||By metascore||By user score|
Average User Score: 7.4May 31, 2019Elton John has had a career that has spanned decades, millions of albums sold, packed venues, awards, and more than a few headlines. In theElton John has had a career that has spanned decades, millions of albums sold, packed venues, awards, and more than a few headlines. In the new film “Rocketman” audiences get a look behind the man thanks to the amazing and Oscar worthy portrayal by Taron Egerton.
The film opens with a flamboyantly dressed John entering rehab in one of his stage costumes. As he opens up with his group, he shares the story of his childhood as a shy child who is desperate to have his father show him any signs of approval or affection.
When it is discovered that he has talent with the piano; his grandmother encourages him and even takes him to apply for a position at the Royal Academy of Music.
His mother (Bryce Dallas Howard) is moderately supportive but is more focused on her social life brought on by her failing marriage.
As the film unfolds; we see Elton working in a backup band and in time answering an ad that puts him with an agent. Paired with the man who would eventually change his life; Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), Elton and Bernie combine to write a series of songs which in turn leads him to a series of gigs in Los Angeles. The film shifts into high gear at this point as we see how their music becomes a smash and leads to a series of parties, drugs, and money.
Elton meets Manager John Reid (Richard Madden), who becomes his partner both socially and professionally as Elton embraces his Homosexuality which he has kept largely hidden.
As the record sales and hits mount, so does the destructive behaviors which leads Elton down a destructive path that threatens everything he has worked for.
The movie is a masterpiece of music and story and it cleverly uses musical montages and segments around the performances to outline various segments of his life and his rise to stardom.
The performances are amazing and Egerton was simply amazing as he not only captured the complexity of his character but performed all the vocals of the hit songs himself and they were spot on.
During our Press Screening I noticed many people singing along, tapping their feet, or bobbing their heads along with the music which helps to underscore just how timeless and popular his catalog of music has been as the songs have endured the test of time.
The film also evokes some unexpected emotion as there were more than a few people wiping their eyes during the film which at its core is a store of a young, shy boy desperate to be accepted and loved.
I truly hope the film is recognized come Awards season as it is a wonderful and memorable cinematic experience.
5 stars out of 5… Expand
Average User Score: 6.0Feb 13, 2019Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson) is a simple man who spends his days clearing the roads in a remote Colorado Ski Town and spends his days with hisNels Coxman (Liam Neeson) is a simple man who spends his days clearing the roads in a remote Colorado Ski Town and spends his days with his wife and his son. Nels is so unassuming that when he is awarded Citizen of the Year he states that there are others far more worthy and fusses over getting dressed up to accept the award and make a speech.
When his son is found dead of a Heroin overdose; Nels is not willing to accept that his son was a user even though this puts tremendous strain on his marriage and has taken Nels to consider suicide. At his worst moment he learns that his son’ co-worker was involved with some shady dealing and that his son was likely collateral damage from the criminal elements involved.
With a new found sense of purpose: Nels embarks on a quest to find the truth and avenge his son’s death no matter the consequences.
One would think that “Cold Pursuit” is a standard revenge film but it unexpectedly changes direction shortly after Nels starts exacting his revenge. The film transforms into a Dark Comedy of sorts as characters get a Title Screen when they are killed many of which have a morbid humor to them. The film even takes the bold step of moving away from Neeson for a good third of the film and putting the emphasis on other characters from rival crime organizations to the Sherriff and his eager Detective (Emmy Rossum).
As such the film is not what you expect as although there is plenty of action at times; it is a Dark Comedy with dramatic elements. It is more in line of what you might expect at a Film Festival from an Indie studio versus a major studio release.
As such fans of Neeson may be disappointed in seeing a departure from the type of films they have come to expect from him in recent years while others may embrace the quirky nature of the film.
3 stars out of 5… Expand
Average User Score: 4.4Sep 15, 2018Writer/Director Shane Black returns to the Predator franchise and looks to jumpstart the franchise in “The Predator”. Black played Hawkins inWriter/Director Shane Black returns to the Predator franchise and looks to jumpstart the franchise in “The Predator”. Black played Hawkins in the classic original film and has since gone on to find success on the other side of the camera with hits like “Iron Man 3”, “The Nice Guys” and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”. Black has also written many genre action films so his take on the iconic Predator has been eagerly awaited by fans who are eager to see the series get back on track.
The film centers on a crashed Predator ship which is witnessed by an American Sniper on assignment named “McKenna” (Boyd Holbrook). While able to recover artifacts from the crashed ships escape pod, McKenna also sees his team brutally taken out by the pilot and soon finds himself targeted by a secret organization due to his knowledge of the otherworldly guest.
At the same time, a Biologist named Casey (Olivia Munn), is brought to a secret locale where she gets an up close encounter with the ship’s pilot in captivity and learns that a government organization has been tracking the visitors and that their visits have increased in recent years.
At the same time McKenna is ushered off to a bus full of unhinged soldiers who are to be locked away due to their numerous issues. Unbeknownst to his superiors; McKenna has mailed the recovered technology to his son who thanks to being on the Autism Spectrum, is able to figure out aspects of the tech which he believes to be a game.
This all leads to a series of brutal encounters as an enhanced Predator arrives and with two of the deadly creatures on the loose, the unhinged soldiers are largely the best hope humanity has of surviving what is to come.
While aspects of the plot seem a bit muddled and at times a bit to linear; the film for the most part works for what fans want and in many places gives them the sequel they have waited for. There is a lot of humor in the film which reportedly divided early test audiences but the action is as brutal and graphic as one would want and expect from the series.
The film does have some big gaps in logic such as how a Biologist can be so comfy and skilled with Assault Weapons and seems to have no issues throwing herself into combat situations and the larger plot points of the Predator objective is intriguing and will open up much debate amongst fans.
The last third of the film was reshot and you can tell at times how parts seem a bit out of synch from early parts of the film especially in the appearance of some characters whose look changes during the film which clearly indicates when segments of the film were shot.
I know the film will likely divide some fans who do not like the humor and wanted a more evade and survive style plot but Black has crafted an interesting opening chapter which is said to be the first of a planned trilogy. While far from perfect, “The Predator” does give fans some interesting characters and plenty of laughs to go with the action and is a worthy entry into the series as long as you are willing to overlook the issues and enjoy the ride.
3.5 stars out of 5.… Expand
Average User Score: 5.6Jun 26, 2018Los Angeles of 2028 is a riot laden area where Martial Law is the norm and brutality is a way of life. Amidst this setting, the Hotel ArtemisLos Angeles of 2028 is a riot laden area where Martial Law is the norm and brutality is a way of life. Amidst this setting, the Hotel Artemis is open for business.. The Artemis is not your typical hotel as it provides emergency medical services to members who engage in criminal activities.
The Nurse (Jodie Foster) runs the facility and with the help of her massive Orderly Everest (Dave Bautista), they ensure that only members get admitted and follow the rules as well as receive state of the art care while in the facility. Guests at the facility are giving names based on the suite in which they are assigned which involve geographical locales and there are a very strict set of rules they must follow such as no guns, bombs, killing other guests, and so on.
The Hotel Artemis is not a simple stitch and bandage facility as they offer advanced medical services such as Nanites, replacement organ printing, robotic A.I. medical treatment and other services which in 2018 seem like Science Fiction.
Enter Waikiki (Sterling K. Brown), who has tried to leave his criminal past behind him yet was savvy enough to keep paying his membership fees at the Artemis all the while. He and his brother have been injured in a heist and with the city under a deadly riot, they make their way to the Artemis to get treatment and hide out from the chaos outside.
Thanks to their services, the hotel is rarely empty and an Arms Dealer named Acapulco (Charlie Day), and an assassin named Nice (Sofia Boutella), are also in residence. The fact that Nice and Waikiki have a past association makes things a bit interesting as guests are always mindful of those around them even though the strict rules of membership exist to ward off any threats or danger to the guests or staff.
Complications arise when the near capacity hotel is informed that the Wolf King of L.A. (Jeff Goldblum) is en- route. The Nurse opts to follow the rules of first come first served and in doing so enrages his son (Zachary Quinto), who decided to barricade the Hotel to make sure nobody gets in before his father, who incidentally owns the facility.
As if this was not enough of a complication, a police officer from troubled past of The Nurse arrives begging for help which sets a very dangerous chain of events into motion.
The film is a very fresh and entertaining story filled with interesting characters, strong performances, and just enough action to keep the film moving along but yet keeping the focus as a character based drama.
First time Director Drew Pearce gets the most of his cast and has used his script to create a very entertaining and unique film that is well worth a watch. It is so nice to see Jodie Foster showing us once again that she is one of the most gifted actresses of our time as the two-time Oscar winner goes all in to portray a very damaged and troubled character who for what she lacks in glamour; more than makes up for with a determined strength.
I hope this film is a success as I would love to see more stories from the Hotel as I really enjoyed the film from start to finish.
4 stars out of 5… Expand
Average User Score: 5.8Jun 26, 2018It has been three years since “Jurassic World” kicked off a new trilogy of Dinosaur films and successfully rebooted the “Jurassic Park” seriesIt has been three years since “Jurassic World” kicked off a new trilogy of Dinosaur films and successfully rebooted the “Jurassic Park” series which had been dormant for over fourteen years. The new film “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” centers on an urgent need to save the dinosaurs from a pending volcanic eruption. This kicks off a huge debate as to the ethics about saving resurrected animals or simply letting them go extinct once again amongst government leaders.
Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) leads a group hoping to lobby support to save the animals and just when things look darkest, hope arrives with an offer from wealthy industrialist Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), arrives. Lockwood worked with Sir John Hammond to create the creatures many years ago and despite a falling out, he remains passionate about protecting the creatures and wants Claire to help save some of the creatures and relocate them to a private sanctuary. Claire is needed as she has a radio frequency which will make locating and saving certain species easier and she is tasked to take Owen (Chris Pratt), with her to retrieve Blue the Velociraptor.
The fact that Owen and Claire are on the outs is a challenge but the chance to see and save Blue gets him to join the trip and they set off with a team to accomplish their task.
Things do not go as planned as it seems that there is a nefarious plan in place unbeknownst to the ailing Lockwood where animals are being captured in an effort to sell them as organic weapons and collectibles.
Things go into high-gear when it is learned why Blue is so important to the plan and with a new and very deadly species of Dinosaur introduced, things are about to get very dangerous.
If you have seen any of the prior films you will know that there will be plenty of Dinosaur carnage and destruction on hand and that the humans must face their own creations in a battle to survive.
The film takes what to me was a glaring hole in regards to why not simply make new creatures versus the debate over a rescue and gave it a very sobering and sadly understandable answer.
The effects in the film are first-rate and the film does hold your attention and provide some very exciting moments. Some may say that after five films it is hard to recapture the sense of wonder as after all; the film is bound to eventually become creatures on the loose with humans caught in the middle.
Director J.A. Bayona keeps things moving at a brisk pace and does have a script with a few nods to prior films in the series. While some may want to detract the film as mindless entertainment, the film is better than the two sequels to the original “Jurassic Park”, and does provide enough good moments to keep fans happy. I look forward to seeing what the next film in the series offers as this is pure summer entertainment at its best.
4 stars out of 5… Expand
Average User Score: 3.2Mar 16, 2018he third and final entry in the “Fifty Shades” series has arrived with the release of “fifty Shades Freed”. The story opens with the weddinghe third and final entry in the “Fifty Shades” series has arrived with the release of “fifty Shades Freed”. The story opens with the wedding of Anastasia (Dakota Johnson), and Christian (Jamie Dornan), and follows their honeymoon in the lavish locales of France.
There getaway is cut short by an act of sabotage at Christian’s company and it soon becomes clear that a person from their past has taken things to a dangerous level which requires Christian to implement security measures for Anastasia and their extended family.
In between the intrigue presented by the threat, we also have numerous scenes of nudity and eroticism as Christian is not going to give up his dominating needs anytime soon.
Combine this with a new revelation that threatens to disrupt the crafted and controlled world he has created for himself and Anastasia; the tensions rise between them making a dangerous and stress-filled situation even more complicated.
While the film does have a better plot and is more engaging than the previous films in the series it is hampered by many of the same issues that hindered the series. The two leads have zero chemistry with one another and their supposedly highly erotic scenes are so routine and by the numbers they lack any form of excitement or real titillation. The film also has this message that behavior that would be considered highly unacceptable in others seems to get a pass for Christian as he is a handsome billionaire. He is a very selfish and controlling individual who demands obedience. While Anastasia does have a strong enough character to stand up to him, she tolerates behavior that would be considered unacceptable by many and seems very quick to give him a pass when lavish gifts and trips are bestowed upon her. I wonder how romantic and acceptable his behavior would be if he was a struggling musician who did not have the financial resources to create fantasies and buy his apologies. I know the film is supposed to be romantic fantasy but this really annoys me as he exhibits much of the behavior that is considered unacceptable and to be avoided at all costs, yet it is all wrapped up in a sweet bow of forgiveness.
That aside the series does seem to be losing steam as the last film earned less than the original film and “Fifty Shades Freed” is tracking to open well below the last film as well. Fans of the series will likely enjoy it as a satisfying finale, but I really expected more from the final moments of the series as after following the characters, the ending seemed very anti-climactic.
2.5 stars out of 5.… Expand
Average User Score: 6.4Mar 16, 2018The latest film in the Marvel Universe has arrived with “Black Panther” and it continues the tradition of big budgeted event films fromThe latest film in the Marvel Universe has arrived with “Black Panther” and it continues the tradition of big budgeted event films from Marvel. The film follows T’Challa (Chadwick Bodeman), as he prepares to assume the throne of the country of Wakanda after the death of his father. He is destined to lead over a nation that to the outside world seems impoverished and rural, but is secretly a very technologically advanced society thanks to their Vibranium resources. The resources allow them to keep their capitol city hidden from the world.
As T’Challa attempts to assume the throne and rule over the various tribes of his country; a threat from his past both known and unknown arises. Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) surfaces, T’Challa mounts and effort to bring him to justice which in turn sets a chain of events into motion. A mysterious and deadly figure known as Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), plans to obtain the Vibranium to exact a plan of revenge so severe it will lead to the nations of the world being subjugated and will divide even the most loyal citizens of Wakanda.
T’Challa must use his powers as The Black Panther and guardian of Wakanda to save his people and the very world from a threat that holds the fate of the world in the balance.
The film takes a while to get going as Director/Co-Writer Ryan Coogler takes his time introducing audiences to the world of Black Panther and especially the various characters. The strong supporting cast features Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Forest Whitaker, Martin Freeman, and so many others that it is great to see such well-rounded characters.
The film does take a while to get up to the action but when it arrives; it delivers making the wait worth it. What I really liked was that the characters were well-defined as were their motivations. You did not have some cartoon mega-villain with some insane scheme, but rather a realistic and believable threat whose motivations were understandable though misguided.
Marvel has again delivered a very thrilling story that fits well into their extended universe and you will want to make sure to stay through all the credits for the two additional scenes which sets up future events for the Marvel Universe. “Black Panther” is a rousing success all around continues Marvel’s Cinematic Universe in grand style.
4.5 stars out of 5… Expand
Average User Score: 7.0Mar 16, 2018For Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis), life is good but at a crossroads. With his birthday coming up, his daughter Jordan (Camila Morrone) isFor Dr. Paul Kersey (Bruce Willis), life is good but at a crossroads. With his birthday coming up, his daughter Jordan (Camila Morrone) is preparing to leave their affluent Chicago home to start college in New York.
His wife Lucy (Elisabeth Shue) knows this is a good thing for their daughter but also knows that it is a turning point in their lives as they will soon be facing an empty nest.
Sadly their ideal life is turned upside down when a home invasion and robbery turns unexpectedly violent leaving Lucy dead and Jordan in a coma. A distraught Paul finds little solace in therapy or in the support of his brother Frank (Vincent D’Onofrio) who is putting his own life back together.
Frustrated by the inability of the police to find those responsible and bring them to justice; Paul becomes even more and more frustrated as the weeks pass. Paul eventually comes into possession of a gun and begins to practice with it which eventually leads him to taking to the streets in a Hoody. When a chance encounters has him gun down two criminals, Paul finds a sudden rush from his experience, especially when it was captured by an onlooker and posted online. Thanks to his face being hidden, the media dubs him the “Grim Reaper” and Paul begins a campaign of vigilante justice as he tracks down those responsible for his suffering and looks to exact a brutal revenge.
The movie directed by horror icon Eli Roth is a faithful update of the Charles Bronson classic. Paul is now Doctor Vs an Architect and Chicago not New York serves as the setting, but the tone and subject matter of the film is very much the same. Roth does show his horror background with a couple of killings that are a bit gruesome but they are not overly gratuitous as he cuts away from the carnage instead of lingering on it. What I found most satisfying is how the film moved at a slow and almost deliberate pace. This was not a run and gun action film like many of the past films Willis has done. His Kersey is an everyman who decides to take extraordinary measures when he believes the law has failed him.
He moves at a steady pace and even in the most frantic moments, moves with the speed one would expect of a man of his years who has only recently fired a gun. Although effective he is at times unsteady with his shorts and actions and his inexperience shows.
It was refreshing to see combat on screen by a character that seemed real vs a polished officer or combat vet.
The cast was solid and really worked well with one another and you could see the struggle they faced with the situations presented to them. The audience at my press screening responded well to the film and seemed to get behind Paul as he embarked on his crusade. I am very curious to see in this time of controversy about gun laws how the film will be received.
For me, “Death Wish” is a very entertaining retelling of a well-known story that still holds up and still asks many difficult questions about our society and how to best protect the ones we love.
3.5 stars out of 5.… Expand
Average User Score: 2.8Mar 16, 2018The classic children’s book A Wrinkle In Time has come to the big screen with a big-budget presentation under the direction of noted DirectorThe classic children’s book A Wrinkle In Time has come to the big screen with a big-budget presentation under the direction of noted Director Ava DuVernay. The story had been adapted prior in a 2003 television movie but this time out the scope is much larger as are the names associated with it.
The story follows a young girl named Meg (Storm Reid), who has withdrawn following the disappearance of her father (Chris Pine), four years earlier. Her brilliant adopted brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) is very protective of Meg and wants to help ease the suffering she has endured over the loss of their father.
Enter the quirky Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspon), who Charles Wallace has been talking to unbeknownst to his family who in turn seem taken aback by her arrival and strange nature. Charles Wallace soon introduces his sister and schoolmate Calvin (Levi Miller), to Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling), who also shares some unusual quirks as well. With the arrival of the final piece in Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey), the children are whisked away to another planet on a search to find the missing father and help restore light to the universe from a dark threat that endangers the universe.
What follows is a series of adventures, quirky characters, and bright visuals as the children and mysterious strangers embark on a grand adventure.
The cast is very appealing but I would love to know if the three stars filmed their scenes at the same time as it did appear at times if they were added in post-production as they did not seem to have much direct interactions with one another. The film does tackle some deep and at times dark subject matter which may be a bit much for younger viewers. One would think that Quantum Entanglements and folding space would be subjects more likely found in Star Trek vs a family film but the film does have some good messages and themes which are essential for younger viewers to note.
The film moves at a deliberate pace and does not erupt into overblown action sequences so viewers expecting a rousing action/adventure will need to temper their expectations.
For those looking for a film with an empowering message aimed at younger viewers, than “A Wrinkle in Time”, may be just the thing for an enjoyable family outing to the local cinema.
3.5 stars out of 5… Expand
Average User Score: 6.3Mar 16, 2018The third film in the “Tomb Raider” film series has arrived and much like
the recent entries in the video game series that inspire it; theThe third film in the “Tomb Raider” film series has arrived and much like
the recent entries in the video game series that inspire it; the film
serves as a reboot of the franchise.
This time out Alicia Vikander takes over the title role from Angelina
Jolie and brings us a younger and far less experienced Lara Croft who
toils as a bike messenger struggling to get by in London. She has a feisty
and competitive nature but is haunted by the absence of her father
(Dominic West), who has been missing for seven years and is presumed dead.
As such, Lara is his sole heir and is being pressured to sign documents
that will legally declare him dead and turn over a vast corporation and
fortune to Lara. True to her nature, Lara resists this as she is
unwilling to move on from her father and cannot bring herself to declare
him dead and take her inheritance.
In time Lara learns that her father was also a dabbler in the supernatural
and artifacts and may have vanished trying to find a secluded tomb on a
remote Japanese island.
Undaunted, Lara sets off to get answers and finds herself in the company
of a boat Captain named Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), who reluctantly takes her to
the dangerous island. Danger arrives first in a storm then in the form of
a Mercenary named Matthias Vogel (Walton Goggins), who wants to find the
mysterious tomb as well for nefarious reasons and will stop at nothing
including murder to get it.
Lara is soon faced with the fight of her life as she must battle Vogel and
his men as well as the island and other forces in order to survive and
protect the world.
The film moves at a pace slower than you might expect as the first half of
the film is mostly setup but there are a few moments of action included to
keep things interesting. While many of the action sequences may seem like
they are either restrained or influenced from other films, they do still
work and entertain. While some may call this a female “Indiana Jones”
film, Lara is very much her own character as she has a spunk and grit that
makes her equal adapt in a cultured setting as she is solving a dangerous
trap or mixing it up with deadly threats.
Vikander also portrays Lara with a sense of vulnerability as she does get
injured, bruised and tormented. This is not an unstoppable action machine,
but rather a real person who knows there is a time use your brain and then
a time to take action, but is also remorseful about the consequences of
her actions at times.
The film does move to a satisfying finale and sets up a further chapter
very well. There are some great nods to prior games in the film which was
refreshing as I joked to my wife during some of the more intense scenes
that I feel like I need to be pushing the X and O button on our Dualshock
4 controllers to help Lara run faster and jump higher.
In the end “Tomb Raider” is a satisfying if safe reboot for the franchise that I expect should keep fans of the series happy. I do think that audiences in North America may want a bit more action but the film should play well in the Asian and European markets. 3.5 stars out of 5.… Expand