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.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Screening: Aquaman

Image result for aquaman poster

From Warner Bros. Pictures and director James Wan comes an action-packed adventure that spans the vast, visually breathtaking underwater world of the seven seas, "Aquaman," starring Jason Momoa in the title role. The film reveals the origin story of half-human, half-Atlantean Arthur Curry and takes him on the journey of his lifetime—one that will not only force him to face who he really is, but to discover if he is worthy of who he was born to be... a king.

In 3D and 2D in select theaters and IMAX on December 21
Warner Bros. Pictures
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language.
Run time: 139 mins

Director:      James Wan
Writers:       Screenplay by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick and Will Beall
Story by Geoff Johns & James Wan and Will Beall
Based on characters created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger for DC
Producer:     Peter Safran, Rob Cowan
Executive Producers:  Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Jon Berg, Geoff Johns, Walter Hamada

Cast:            Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Dolph Lundgren, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Ludi Lin, Temuera Morrison, and Nicole Kidman 

Image result for aquaman poster

Action Adventure“Aquaman” spans the vast, visually breathtaking underwater world of the seven seas and reveals the origin story of half-human, half-Atlantean Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa), which takes him on the journey of his lifetime—one that will not only force him to face who he really is, but to discover if he is worthy of who he was born to be… a king.

Tickets for this screening are very limited 

Screening details:
Tuesday, December 18 – 7:00pm
AMC Mazza Gallerie

We will be notifying winners on Sunday, December 16th. We will by using Rafflecopter for this one so let us know what you think. To enter, follow the Rafflecopter widget instructions below

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Screening: THE UPSIDE

Image result for the upside poster
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart, Julianna Margulies
Writers: Jon Hartmere, Eric Toledano, Olivier Nakache
Director: Neil Burger
Producers: Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch
Release Date: January 11, 2019

Image result for the upside kevin hart

Director Neil Burger’s The Upside is a heartfelt comedy about a recently paroled ex-convict, Dell (Kevin Hart), who strikes up an unusual and unlikely friendship with a quadriplegic billionaire,
Phillip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston). From worlds apart, Dell and Phillip form an unlikely bond,
bridging their differences and gaining invaluable wisdom in the process, giving each man a
renewed sense of passion for all of life’s possibilities.The Upside also stars Nicole Kidman,
Julianna Margulies, and Aja Naomi King. The screenplay for the film is by Jon Hartmere, based
on the motion picture Intouchables by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache.

This film is rated PG-13 for suggestive content and drug use.
Facebook - @TheUpsideFilm
Twitter - @TheUpsideFilm
Instagram - @TheUpsideFilm

Screening Details 

Wednesday, January 9th


 AMC Mazza Gallerie 5300 Wisconsin Ave NW Washington DC, DC 20015 2025379551 

 Download Passes NOW!


Monday, December 10, 2018

Review: Anna and the Apocalypse

Release date: November 30, 2018
Running time: 97 minutes
Starring:  Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire

I knew I would love this movie from the moment I heard the combination: Zombie Christmas Musical. If Shaun of the Dead meets Glee sounds remotely interesting to you, you will love it (side note: Glee is a much closer comparison than La La Land, despite the movie poster quote).

Let me set the stage. Take one dash Glee—with its high school drama, spontaneous bouts
of singing, and over the top characters—add in some apocalyptic zombies, and let the ridiculousness ensue. There is not one overarching theme in this movie: zombie gore is broken up by musical numbers, high school drama is broken up by zombie hordes, family tension is met with high school silliness. The themes change enough to keep you from focusing on one movie trope, but there is enough of a through line to keep the story moving.  What you end up with is an interesting combination of movie themes that normally don't go together, yet mesh perfectly.  

The characters are varied enough that the rag tag group of friends play enough off each other to keep you engaged.  You get a mixed set of high school arch types, from outcasts hoping to escape their small town, to popular kids picking on said outcasts, and some that are in between.  As with the themes, the characters have enough variety, and are generally very likable, to keep you engaged throughout the film.  

The film is not without its flaws. Some of the characters are unlikable and many of them are one-dimensional (despite the hamstrung attempts to give these characters additional depth).  There are some attempts at drama that fall flat.  And some of the songs are better than others.  And overall, the movie is too short.  Personally, I could have used a few more musical numbers, high school drama, and zombie actionbasically I just wanted more of this charming, flawed, unique movie.

But at its core Anna and the Apocalypse is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It is not a flawless movie, but it is one that I loved all the way through its 97 minutes.  It offers something refreshingly different from anything else out now, with the perfect combination of holiday cheer, catchy music, zombie action, funny characters, and high school drama. It’s a movie that as soon as the credits rolled, I wanted to listen to the soundtrack and watch again. Anna and the Apocalypse is one of my favorite movies of the year, and one that has stayed with me since seeing it. If the combination of Shaun of the Dead and Glee sounds interesting to you, go see this excellent holiday treat.

Watch it.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Screening: VICE

Image result for vice 2018 movie


VICE explores the story of Dick Cheney (CHRISTIAN BALE), a bureaucratic Washington insider, who quietly wielded immense power as vice president to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today. Directed and written by Adam McKay, VICE Stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Tyler Perry, Alison Pill, Lily Rabe and Jesse Plemons.


Screening Details 

 AMC Mazza Gallerie 5300 Wisconsin Ave NW Washington DC, DC 20015 2025379551 

December 13, 2018 Thursday 7:00pm (Have your pass ready to show at the door) 

Download Passes NOW!

Screening: FIRST MAN | w/ Talent Q&A Opportunity

Image result for FIRST MAN MOVIE

The screening will take place at the National Air and Space Museum, and will have a Q&A following with Academy-Award winner Josh Singer and two-time Pulitzer-Prize nominee, and author of the Armstrong biography First Man, James Hansen.

James and Josh, who adapted the book into the movie’s screenplay, will examine the relationship between writing about history and using history as inspiration for entertainment. Don’t miss this chance to hear them discuss some of the most provocative incidents from the film. Audience participation will be encouraged during a time for questions. Hansen and Singer will sign their First Man books after the program.

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WHAT:                        Special Screening of FIRST MAN with talent Q&A following

WHO:                          FIRST MAN screenwriter Josh Singer and novelist James R. Hansen

WHERE:                    National Air and Space Museum
                                    Independence Avenue at Sixth Street, Southwest
                                    Washington, D.C.

WHEN:                      Friday, December 7, 2018

                                    6:00 PM           Screening Begins
                                    8:30 PM           Moderated Q&A Begins
                                    9:00 PM           Book Signing Begins: First Man Annotated Screenplay and First Man: The Life of Neil Armstrong

FIRST MAN is in theaters nationwide now.

To Attend: Email WatchorPass (Watchorpass [at] Subject field - "First man Screening" and winners will be notified before 2pm today ! Sorry for late notice !

Monday, December 3, 2018


Opening in DC on December 14th 
Story: MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS is a retelling of the turbulent life of Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan), based on the book “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart” by Dr. John Guy. Queen of France at 16, at 18 Mary is widowed, defies pressure to remarry and instead returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. By birth, Mary has a rival claim to the throne of Elizabeth I (Margot Robbie), who rules as England’s Queen. Contrary to earlier accounts, and based on Dr. John Guy’s research, we see Mary as a capable politician and leader who wanted an alliance with her cousin Elizabeth. Mary fights to govern her unruly kingdom at a time when female monarchs are reviled as monstrous. To secure their thrones, the two Queens make very different choices about marriage and children. Mary’s reputation is under continual attack from her enemies, who construct lies about her sexual conduct. Betrayal, rebellion and conspiracies within each court imperil both Queens–driving them apart, as each woman experiences the bitter cost of power.
Director: Josie Rourke (artistic director of The Donmar Warehouse)
Writer: Beau Willimon (“The Ides of March,” “House of Cards”), based on Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward
Cast:  Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, Gemma Chan, Martin Compston, Ismael Cordova, Brendan Coyle, Ian Hart, Adrian Lester, James McArdle, with David Tennant, and Guy Pearce
Rating: TBD
Run Time: 123 mins
For more info, please follow the film on social:

Wednesday, December 5
7:00 PM
Landmark E Street Cinema

Download Passes NOW!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Screening: SECOND ACT

Screening Details:


Wednesday, December 19
AMC Mazza Gallerie

Image result for second act poster

This film is rated PG-13.
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Leah Remini, Vanessa Hudgens with Treat Williams
and Milo Ventimiglia
Writers: Justin Zackham & Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas
Director: Peter Segal
Producers: Jennifer Lopez, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Benny Medina, Justin
Release Date: December 21st, 2018

SECOND ACT is an inspirational comedy starring Jennifer Lopez as Maya, a 40-year-old woman
struggling with frustrations of not having achieved more in life. As an experienced, quickwitted,
perceptive employee, she is passed over for a promotion solely because she doesn’t
have a college degree. Until, that is, she gets the chance to prove that street smarts are as
valuable as book smarts, and that it is never too late for a Second Act.

Facebook - @SecondAct
Twitter - @SecondAct
Instagram - @SecondActMovie

Download Passes NOW!