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Archives for : adventure

Movie Review: “Spin Me Round” is Wonderfully Weird

If there’s any takeaway from Jeff Baena’s new comedy, “Spin Me Round”, it’s that Allison Brie and Aubrey Plaza need to be in more films together. But they aren’t the only shining stars in this movie.

Alison Brie plays Amber, a manager of an Italian chain restaurant (similar to Olive Garden) that gets selected to go on an all-expense paid trip to the company’s training program in Italy. Amber is not only thrilled at the chance to further her career, but she’s excited at the opportunity to fall in love. Once she arrives at the “institute”, she soon gets wrapped up in a different kind of “romance”.

Amber is not alone in this experience. The other managers in the program are Deb (Molly Shannon), Jen (Ayden Mayeri), Susie (Debby Ryan), Dana (Zach Woods), and Fran (Tim Heidecker), who are a little quirky. But they are the least of Amber’s worries. The group is not staying at a villa, but a rundown hotel. Their guide Craig (Ben Sinclair) is a mono-toned weirdo. And they can’t leave the compound. But, when Amber meets the restaurant’s handsome founder, Nick Martucci (Alessandro Nivola), his assistant, Kat (Aubrey Plaza) sneaks Amber away so that her and Nick can “get to know each other”. This eventually leads to one crazy adventure.

I’m not sure how many people will enjoy this film. There will be a lot of confusion, and some will wonder if there was a purpose for the movie. Well, the purpose is fun. Not every film is going to have a deep underlining meaning. “Spin Me Round” does touch on inappropriate power dynamics and manipulation tactics used in seduction, but that’s hardly the point. Director and co-writer, Jeff Baena (alongside co-writer Alison Brie), succeeds in making a hilarious, oddball comedy that is elevated by his excellent cast.

No surprise, Brie and Plaza are fantastic. They have great chemistry and engaging banter. While they may be the backbone of this wacky story, the ENTIRE comedic cast serve up plenty of laughs. Shannon might one of the best characters with her hot & cold, “mentally off” behavior. Mayeri plays a delightfully ditzy, overly positive manager. And Woods is the most endearing of the bunch, as he plays the awkward, number one fan of the chain.

The only negative is a certain character being removed from the film far too early and in a manner that felt unintentional, but the rest of the strong supporting cast makes up for this random disappearance.

If you allow yourself to be immersed in this weirdly entertaining story, then you’re in for a really great time. Believe it or not, I didn’t want it end. All these characters were so intriguing, I was craving an extended trip.

Rating: B

“Spin Me Round opens in theaters and available to rent August 19, 2022.

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Movie Review: “The Green Knight” and “Paper Spiders”

David Lowery is an Irving High School alum who has gone on to make critically acclaimed films like “Pete’s Dragon” and “A Ghost Story”. His new movie, “The Green Knight,” is a Medieval, fantasy re-telling of Sir Gawain based on the 14th century Arthurian poem. Watch the video below to find out my thoughts on the movie, along with a review of the independent film, “Paper Spiders”, starring Lili Taylor (“The Conjuring”).

“The Green Knight” opens in theaters July 30, 2021 and “Paper Spiders” is available to rent on various VOD platforms.

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Movie Review: “A Quiet Place Part II” & “Cruella”

This week I review the highly anticipated sequel, “A Quiet Place Part 2” and Disney’s newest live action movie, “Cruella”. Followed by a preview of Universal Pictures’ “Spirit Untamed”. See which films are worth visiting the theaters.

“A Quiet Place Part 2” opens in theaters May 28, 2021

“Cruella” opens in theaters on Disney Plus Premier Access May 28, 2021

“Spirit Untamed” opens in theaters June 4, 2021

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“Spirit Untamed” Downloadable Virtual Kit

SPIRIT UNTAMED is in theaters Friday, June 4. To celebrate, Universal Pictures and DreamWorks has created a downloadable virtual activity kit!

Link to virtual activity kit: https://wetransfer.com/downloads/55dccb7221236e99f2dade1bfbe0d59520210506203222/07ad23

An epic adventure about a headstrong girl longing for a place to belong who discovers a kindred spirit when her life intersects with a wild horse, Spirit Untamed is the next chapter in the beloved story from DreamWorks Animation. 

Lucky Prescott (Isabela Merced, Dora and the Lost City of Gold) never really knew her late mother, Milagro Navarro (Eiza González, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw), a fearless horse-riding stunt performer from Miradero, a small town on the edge of the wide-open frontier. 

Like her mother, Lucky isn’t exactly a fan of rules and restrictions, which has caused her Aunt Cora (Academy Award® winner Julianne Moore) no small amount of worry. Lucky has grown up in an East Coast city under Cora’s watchful eye, but when Lucky presses her own luck with one too many risky escapades, Cora picks up stakes and moves them both back with Lucky’s father, Jim (Oscar® nominee Jake Gyllenhaal), in Miradero.

Lucky is decidedly unimpressed with the sleepy little town. She has a change of heart when she meets Spirit, a wild Mustang who shares her independent streak, and befriends two local horseback riders, Abigail Stone (Mckenna Grace, Captain Marvel) and Pru Granger (Marsai Martin, Little). Pru’s father, stable owner Al Granger (Emmy winner Andre Braugher, Fox’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine), is the best friend of Lucky’s father. 

When a heartless horse wrangler (Emmy nominee Walton Goggins, FX’s Justified) and his team plan to capture Spirit and his herd and auction them off to a life of captivity and hard labor, Lucky enlists her new friends and bravely embarks on the adventure of a lifetime to rescue the horse who has given her freedom and a sense of purpose, and has helped Lucky discover a connection to her mother’s legacy and to her Mexican heritage that she never expected. 

Spirit Untamed is the next chapter in DreamWorks Animation’s beloved franchise that began with the 2002 Oscar-nominated film Spirit: Stallion of Cimarron and includes an Emmy-winning TV series. The film is directed by Elaine Bogan (Netflix and DreamWorks Animation Television’s Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia) and is produced by Karen Foster (co-producer, How to Train Your Dragon). The film’s co-director is Ennio Torresan (head of story, The Boss Baby), and the film’s score is by composer Amie Doherty (Amazon’s Undone, DreamWorks Animation’s Marooned).

Genre: Animated Adventure

Cast: Isabela Merced, Julianne Moore, Jake Gyllenhaal, Marsai Martin, Mckenna Grace, Walton Goggins, Andre Braugher and Eiza González

Director: Elaine Bogan

Producer: Karen Foster

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Movie Review: “Wonder Woman 1984” Fails to Soar as High as its Predecessor

It pains me to write this review, as the first “Wonder Woman” movie was one of my favorite films of 2017. Patty Jenkins directed/wrote a simple, yet, thrilling, and charming story. It still holds up today as an incredible film. Sadly, the sequel, “Wonder Woman 1984” does not carry that same merit.

First off, what the heck!? I mean who approved this script!? Did they even refer to the last movie??

I just had to get that out. It is extremely frustrating, because we know DC can’t seem to figure out how to create the same kind of quality superhero movies like Marvel. That was until the first “Wonder Woman”. They found a gem in Patty Jenkins, and I know she is capable of much better than this.

“Wonder Woman 1984” picks up 66 years after Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) helped end World War 1 with the help of her friends and self-sacrificing boyfriend, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). She’s now in Washington DC curating ancient artifacts; working with a socially awkward Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig). She is still saving the world, but she’s unhappy and living a lonely life without any loved ones.

Diana’s life is pretty routine until a foiled mall robbery shakes everything up. The incident leads to the discovery of an old artifact known as the dream stone, which grants wishes, but also takes something in return. It’s a dangerous tool that leads to a series of catastrophic events when it falls into the hands of a ponzi scam artist, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal).

The acting in “Wonder Woman 1984” is good. Gadot has some stand out moments, particularly in a heartbreaking, emotional scene with Pine. And Pascal plays a hilarious, wacked out nut job. And Wiig does a fantastic job as Barbara/The Cheetah. She was actually my favorite part of the film. I just wish they utilized her more as a villain. Though Pascal is great to watch, I would have loved seeing Wiig in her full evil mode for much longer than what we’re given.

The problem here is in the writing. It goes beyond campy into cheesy territory. The opening sequence of the film is promising. But early on after Pascal steals the artifact, the movie just goes downhill. It gets muddled, and doesn’t even make that much sense. Maybe too many people were involved in writing the story, or maybe they were trying too hard to make a unique plot. But it didn’t work. They focused on corny jokes and a fluffy subject matter instead taking the route of the previous film’s darker tone. There are minimal action scenes, and the few we see have no real impact or awe factor. And I can’t go into detail, but there are so many problems with the ending. I would vent about if I could.

As a fan of the first “Wonder Woman”, I still have to advise you watch this sequel, and form your own opinion. There’s still some fun moments, and the characters are enjoyable. My only advice is to go in with the lowest of expectations.

Rating: 3/5

“Wonder Woman opens in theaters and streams on HBOMax December 25.

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Movie Review: News of the World is an Enjoyable Ride

The last time director Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks worked together was for “Captain Phillips”. A solid movie that was strong in its performances, but lacking in its story. Now, the two have teamed up again, and Hanks plays an even better Captain in the film, “News of the World”.

Hanks stars as Captain Kyle Kidd, a war veteran who travels from town to town five years after the Civil War, to read the news across Texas. But this man doesn’t just read the news, he brings life to it with his energy and storytelling; almost like a performance. He entertains the crowds at each stop with his loud, commanding voice.

While on his news tour, Kidd stumbles across a 10-year old girl which he names Johanna (Helena Zengel). She’s found abandoned on the road. She was raised by the Kiowa tribe, and doesn’t speak any English. Once Kidd realizes Johanna has no one to help her, he takes it upon himself to get her to her aunt and uncle’s farm near San Antonio. But this is no easy journey, and Kidd still must complete his work. Johanna tags along and watches in admiration as Kidd reads his “stories” to the towns they visit before their final destination.

“News of the World” does have some action, and there is enough intensity to keep you engaged. But be prepared for a lot of quiet and slow moments. With the exception of one shoot-out, this isn’t a very wild western. The enjoyment of the film comes from Kidd and Johanna. The two have great chemistry, and a very natural father/daughter like relationship. The dialogue between them is never forced or cheesy. The progression of the care and trust they build is incredibly heartwarming. They are both troubled and lost, but they find a home in each other.

The film is beautifully shot with luminous cinematography by Dariusz Wolski, and has a fantastic production design by David Crank. The exteriors of this film are wonderful, but what gives this movie life is the heart behind the two lead characters.

“News of the World” is an unconventional western. But regardless of your genre preference, Hanks and Zengel will win you over.

Rating: 4/5

“News of the World” opens in theaters December 25 and On Demand in January.

Movie Review: “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” & “Dolemite is My Name”

In “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” Aurora get engaged to Prince Philip and Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) isn’t happy. And in “Dolemite is My Name” Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) wants to be on the big screen and make a movie, but has no clue how to go about it. Check out my full review of both these films in the video below!

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” in theaters October 18 & “Dolemite is My Name” is available on Netflix October 25.

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Interview: Eugenio Derbez talks “Dora and the Lost City of Gold”

“Dora and the Lost City of Gold” Production Still

The popular animated series, “Dora the Explorer” is now a live action big screen movie!

I sat down with one of the stars of the film, Eugenio Derbez (Overboard, Instructions Not Included), to discuss why it’s hard to make friends in high school, which celebrity he would want to dress up as, and more!

“Dora and the Lost City of Gold” opens in theaters August 9.

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Movie Review/Interview: Directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz talk “The Peanut Butter Falcon”

Shia LaBeouf and Zack Gottsagen star in “The Peanut Butter Falcon”

“The Peanut Butter Falcon” is a modern Mark Twain style adventure story. The film follows Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down Syndrome, who runs away from a residential nursing home and the employee who cared for him (Dakota Johnson) so that he can follow his dream of becoming a professional wrestler. Along the way he meets Tyler (Shia LaBeouf), and the two form an unlikely brotherly bond during their exciting and, at times, dangerous travels.

This is writers/directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz’s debut feature, and it’s one of the best films of the year. A simple premise with a lot of heart. This is due in great part to the fantastic performances by Gottsagen, LaBeouf, and Johnson. 

I got a chance to sit down with Nilson and Schwartz while they were in Dallas to promote their film. It was entertaining to say the least. They are very cool dudes, who are passionate about this already critically acclaimed movie. We chatted about LaBeouf and Gottsagen’s chemistry, pro-wrestling, meeting your heroes, and much more.

Rating: 4.5/5

All hands in with Michael Schwartz (Left) & Tyler Nilson (Right)
Full Interview with Director/Writers Tyler Nilson & Michael Schwartz

“The Peanut Butter Falcon” opens in select theaters on August 9.

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Movie Review: “The Mummy” is a Mediocre Summer Blockbuster

Image result for the mummy 2017 poster

Just a heads up, this is NOT a reboot of the “The Mummy”(1999) film starring Brendan Fraser. Universal Pictures has relaunched classic monster movie characters as part of the Dark Universe franchise, beginning with “The Mummy” (2017).

Tom Cruise plays Nick Morton, a US soldier in Iraq who in his free time steals priceless antiquities with his reluctant partner in crime, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson).

During one of their “hunts for gold”, the two men and archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) stumble upon the remains of Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), who was entombed for eternity after her treacherous acts of evil five thousand years ago. By uncovering her remains they have also awakened her spirit, allowing Ahmanet to finally finish out her plan to rule the world.

Okay, so the plot is pretty thin and hardly original, but the movie does have it’s entertaining moments thanks to Cruise and Johnson’s comic relief and the constant action-packed sequences.

The film also eases us into another Dark Universe character, Dr. Henry Jekyll, adequately played by Russell Crowe. Though his character was there to study Ahmanet, and be another obstacle for Nick and his quest to escape the supernatural madness, somehow Dr. Jekyll felt forced in this story. However, the possibility for an interesting Dr. Jekyll is there and I’m looking forward to seeing Crowe as the lead in a Jekyll and Hyde origin film.

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“The Mummy” as a whole isn’t much to brag about. The entire cast does a decent job, and the story is very basic. What we currently have here is an average, but fun fantasy adventure that has gotten the ball rolling on what is suppose to compete against Marvel and DC movies. Luckily, “The Mummy” has set the bar real low for the future Dark Universe films.

This film will probably get a lot of negative reaction as it brings nothing fresh beyond some jokes and cool CGI. Yet, I can’t help but see potential in what’s to come. Once the franchise finds its footing and brings this world together in a more natural way, it could be something special? Or maybe I’m just being optimistic, who knows!

In a summer filled with anticipated blockbusters it’s hard to say that “The Mummy” will rise above movies like “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” or “Wonder Woman”. However, if you’ve already seen those two films and you’re looking for a quick thrill to satisfy you in theaters till “Spider-man: Homecoming” comes out, then “The Mummy” is worth a few bucks.

Rating: 3/5

“The Mummy” opens in theaters June 9.

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