Friday, January 18, 2019

Review: Glass

Release date: January 18, 2018
Running time: 129 minutes
Starring: James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jacksonn  

Glass is M. Night Shyamalan's movie that merges 2017's Split with his 2000 hit, Unbreakable.  The film is a long time coming, with advertisements touting that this is a sequel 19 years in the making.  And make no mistake, this is a true follow up to both of those movies.  Shyamalan pulls off a pretty incredible feat by including the main characters from both Split and Unbreakable in Glass; including the main supporting characters from each film.  The same actors from 19 years ago return to reprise their roles in this film.  Much like the age spanning of Boyhood, this lends an air of authenticity to the overall project and I was impressed by the attention to detail.  

That being said, Glass is very different from what I expected.  I was expecting a more traditional super hero movie but I should have known better.  Glass is not an action movie, and it is barely a super hero movie.  It is Shyamalan's take on a real world super hero genre; a heroes living among us scenario without the flash and set pieces of more traditional super hero films.  As one might expect, it is similar to Shyamalan's previous movies in this universe.  Both Unbreakable and Split spent more time discussing and developing characters, than on super hero-style exploits, and Glass is no different.  

Similar to those movies, Glass is a slowly-paced exploration.  A large part of the movie is one-on-one dialogue, most of which involves the three main actors: McAvoy, Willis, and Jackson.  Each of the main characters does a great job reprising their role and McAvoy puts on a show as 23 distinct characters, often switching between them rapidly and unpredictably.  Willis and Jackson are both great reprising their roles from Unbreakable, but they are overshadowed by McAvoy's brilliance.  

Overall, I enjoyed Shyamalan's super hero universe more than I expected, but I can see why people would criticize this film.  It is slow, has more exposition than action, and is sometimes ridiculous.  The dialog can be at times without any subtlety, or just have a nonrelated shift to get some point across.  You will know if you are interested in this movie based on whether you liked Unbreakable and Split.  But if you have the patience for Shyamalan's vision of a super hero universe, it presents an interesting premise and a chance to revisit some fantastic characters.  

If you liked unbreakable and split, watch it, otherwise:

Rent it

Thursday, January 17, 2019


Old school magic meets the modern world in this epic adventure. Alex (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) thinks he's just another nobody, until he stumbles upon the mythical sword in the stone, Excalibur. Now, he must unite his friends and enemies into a band of knights and, together with the legendary wizard Merlin (Sir Patrick Stewart), take on the wicked enchantress Morgana (Rebecca Ferguson). With the future at stake, Alex must become the great leader he never dreamed he could be.


Opens in theaters on Friday, January 25th                    

Director: Joe Cornish

Cast: Louis Ashbourne Serkis, Dean Chaumoo, Tom Taylor, Rhianna Dorris, Angus Imrie, with Rebecca Ferguson and Patrick Stewart

Synopsis: Old school magic meets the modern world in the epic adventure THE KID WHO WOULD BE KING. Alex (Ashbourne Serkis) thinks he’s just another nobody, until he stumbles upon the mythical Sword in the Stone, Excalibur. Now, he must unite his friends and enemies into a band of knights and, together with the legendary wizard Merlin (Stewart), take on the wicked enchantress Morgana (Ferguson). With the future at stake, Alex must become the great leader he never dreamed he could be.

Rating: PG

Screening Details:

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019
6:30 pm
Regal Gallery Place

Claim your Passes HERE

As always, screenings are first-come, first-served so please arrive early to ensure you get a seat.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Screening: MISS BALA

Miss Bala (Miss Bullet) is an upcoming American-Mexican action thriller film, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, from a screenplay by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer. It is based on the 2011 film of the same name, directed by Gerardo Naranjo, from a screenplay by Naranjo and Mauricio Katz.It stars Gina Rodriguez, Ismael Cruz Córdova and Anthony Mackie.

It is scheduled to be released on February 1, 2019, by Columbia Pictures.

Gloria (Gina Rodriguez) who is a makeup artist from Los Angeles, visits her best friend Suzu in Tijuana, Mexico. But then Suzu suddenly disappears at a nightclub. In the course of her search and rescue for her, Gloria gets kidnapped and forced to smuggle laundered money for a drug cartel. She works her way into the good graces of its leader Lino as well as the DEA, which also takes part in this case.Gloria must turn the tables on everyone to escape and finds a power she never knew she had as she navigates a dangerous world of cross-border crime. Surviving will require all of her cunning, inventiveness, and strength.

Screening Details:

Wednesday, January 30th
Regal Majestic

Claim your Passes HERE

As always, screenings are first-come, first-served so please arrive early to ensure you get a seat.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Review: The Upside

Release date: January 11, 2018
Running time: 125 minutes
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston  

The Upside focuses on the working relationship of a wealthy paraplegic and a down on his
luck ex-con.  The unlikely friends could not be more different, but end up being exactly what each other needs at that time.  The film is a remake of the absolutely phenomenal French film, The Intouchables, which was one of my favorite movies of 2011.  This remake, thankfully, doesn't fall into the Hollywood trap of redoing what already worked in the first movie--it simply updates the movie to the current timeline and sets the film in America.  Much of the plot, pacing, and characters of the film are the same as those in The Intouchables, and that is a good thing.

The biggest concern I had with this remake was whether the American cast could match the wonderful friendship of the French film.  Thankfully, Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston are up to the task.  Their friendship is just as unlikely in this film, and their chemistry is apparent from the beginning.  Kevin Hart is funny and engaging, someone that you root for the entire film.  And Bryan Cranston is wonderful as someone who has everything yet lost everything.  This is a movie where the main attraction is seeing the relationship grow, and thankfully these two are up to the task. 

If there are complaints about this movie, it's that it feels unnecessary.  I have already gushed about The Intouchables, and the fact that The Upside kept so close to the original source is a blessing and a curse.  On the one hand, it followed in the wonderful footsteps of a stellar film. On the other hand, it feels like the movie is not necessary and doesn't offer anything that the original didn't 7 years earlier.  The updates to technology are welcome, but not explored more than a few voice commands that are used, and the American environment doesn't feel that different from what was already presented.  Additionally, Hart's character is not as easily likable as the man from the first film, and although I do like some of his new jokes, they included new plot and situations that lead to too convenient character changes.

However, at its core The Upside keeps almost everything that made The Intouchables such a phenomenal film.  Sure, it is not necessary, but if you haven't seen the original, just want to revisit this touching story, or would prefer English audio over subtitles, then give The Upside a watch.  

Watch it.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Review: Aquaman

Release date: December 21, 2018
Running time: 143 minutes
Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe 

Aquaman is the latest DC Comics film and features a hero that was introduced in last year's
Justice League.  Aquaman always seemed like a tough movie to tell a story in due to the aquatic nature and odd powers of the protagonist.  But thankfully, Zack Snyder is up to the task and creates a compelling world that straddles both the surface and the ocean.

DC Comics is clearly hoping that this film will make a big holiday splash, and has upped the special effects to 11.  Viewers are hit with a tidal wave of colors and effects as mysterious sea worlds and creatures fill the screen.  Overall the effects are entertaining and sometimes awe inspiring.  And the casting is perfect, with Jason Momoa as a convincing Aquaman.  Not only does he have the physique to play the role (sorry Vinny Chase), but he also plays a convincing character who is caught between two very different worlds and a conflict he has no interest in.  Amber Heard is another standout as princess Mera, a strong female companion during Aquaman's journey.  Like the main theme of bridging two different worlds, the film also spans multiple genres with mixed effect.  The film is part super hero movie, part fantasy adventure, and part action extravaganza.  

However, the film is not without its flaws.  One problem with the movie, and its aquatic nature, is that it relies far too much on CG.  Pretty much every underwater scene uses some from of computer enhancement, and this leads to many of the scenes falling into an uncanny valley as vast as the oceans.  Additionally, because some of the film is set in the past, certain characters are digitally de-aged with a similar off-putting effect.  The previously mentioned genre mash-up leads to what seems like an unnecessarily long adventure, pushing the run time to well over two hours.  And the journey leads to a story that feels convoluted at times and builds towards a climactic final scene that borders on ridiculous.  Finally, the writing feels like it was ripped out of a fantasy epic, leading to cheesy dialogue.  And last but not least, Amber Heard's outfit feels like a regression after the care that was taken for Wonder Woman.  I was hoping that the backlash from Justice League would have moved the needle, but apparently that was not the case.

Much of this review has been harsh for Aquaman, but like the main character, this film feels like it is from two different worlds.  It is a visual treat with fun characters on an epic journey through some wonderous worlds.  But it also is a movie that has entire CG scenes, a story that at times feels as long as crossing the oceans, and some really underwhelming writing.  In the end, Aquaman is one of the better DC Comics movies in recent memory.  It is DC's attempt to make its films more entertaining and light-hearted, and if you can get past its flaws, the film has a lot of entertainment value.  

Rent it.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Review: Bumblebee

Release date: December 21, 2018
Running time: 113 minutes
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Dylan O'Brien, John Cena

When I heard that they were doing a reboot / origin story for the Transformers series, a film
series that started with a Michael Bay-induced bang and has since declined into a CGI-mess, I was skeptical at best.  Then I heard that it was starring one of the bellas from Pitch Perfect (and not even one of the originals) and my expectations were rock bottom.  Throw in an extremely talented but unproven director in Travis Knight (known for his animation work in the fantastic Laika films), as well as a similarly unproven writer and you have a recipe for disaster.  But I am very happy to say that I was WRONG WRONG WRONG. 

Bumblebee starts with a bang, but quickly hits you with some amazing 80s nostalgia.  The references, the sets, the music, and the jokes; everything makes you feel like you traveled thirty five years back in time.  And within all this nostalgia, you find an unlikely friendship between a robot in disguise and an angsty teenager stuck in neutral.  The interactions between the two main characters fuel much of the movie, and although the whole development drags on a little too long, I definitely appreciate the amount of care that went into this relationship.  This level of care is translated into other aspects of the film.  Along with the previously mentioned attention to 80s nostalgia, the level of care is applied to the methodical pace that mixes character development and action without overly saturating one or the other, and to the writing that develops the quirky characters.  But most importantly, the film stays true to the Transformers source material, with sound effects, references, and characters from the popular television show.  

Bumblebee is the origin story that no one asked for but now feels like a perfect part of the world.  It is filled with 80s nostalgia, funny writing, great special effects, and a strange human-car romance that would give Shape of Water a run for its money.  It also feels more true to the original Transformers source material than any of the other recent movies.  It is a worthy origin story and hopefully a sign of what is to come from this universe.  Bumblebee introduces us to a whole new generation of characters and talent, and I can't wait to see where this goes next.

Watch it.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Screening: Welcome to Marwen


Cast: Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, Diane Kruger, Merritt Wever, Janelle Monáe, Eiza González, Gwendoline Christie, Leslie Zemeckis, Neil Jackson         
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Release Date: December 21, 2019


This holiday season, Academy Award® winner Robert Zemeckis—the groundbreaking filmmaker behind Forrest Gump, Flight and Cast Away—directs Steve Carell in the most original movie of the year.  Welcome to Marwen tells the miraculous true story of one broken man’s fight as he discovers how artistic imagination can restore the human spirit.  

When a devastating attack shatters Mark Hogancamp (Carell) and wipes away all memories, no one expected recovery.  Putting together pieces from his old and new life, Mark meticulously creates a wondrous town where he can heal and be heroic.  As he builds an astonishing art installation—a testament to the most powerful women he knows—through his fantasy world, he draws strength to triumph in the real one. 

In a bold, wondrous and timely film from this revolutionary pioneer of contemporary cinema, Welcome to Marwen shows that when your only weapon is your imagination…you’ll find courage in the most unexpected place.

The epic drama is produced by Oscar®-winning producer Steve Starkey (Forrest Gump, Flight), Jack Rapke (Cast Away, Flight), and Cherylanne Martin (The Pacific, Flight) of Zemeckis’ Universal-based ImageMovers banner produce alongside the director.  It is executive produced by Jacqueline Levine, as well as Jeff Malmberg, who directed the riveting 2010 documentary that inspired the film.

Screening Details:

Wednesday, December 19
Regal Majestic

To enter, please send an email to watchorpass [at] gmail with the subject "WELCOME TO MARWEN" and include your name, email address, and the answer to the following question: "What hidden talent do you have?"

As always, screenings are first-come, first-served so please arrive early to ensure you get a seat.