Monday, March 25, 2019

Screening: SHAZAM!

Image result for shazam movie poster 

In 3D and 2D in select theaters and IMAX on April 5
(New Line Cinema)
Rated PG-13

Cast: Zachary Levi, Mark Strong, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer, and Djimon Hounsou, Faithe Herman, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen, Jovan Armand, Marta Milans, Cooper Andrews
Director: David F. Sandberg

We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Asher Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Zachary Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou). Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them! Can he fly? Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong). 
Tuesday, April 2 – 7:00pm
Regal Majestic
-      This screening will be in IMAX 2D.
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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Review: The Aftermath

The Aftermath (2019 film) poster.jpg
Release Date: March 15, 2019
Running Time: 108 minutes
Starring: Keira Knightley, Jason Clarke, Alexander Skarsgård

The Aftermath take place post World War II in Hamburg, Germany, where you find Rachael Morgan (Keira Knightley) reunited with her husband Lewis (Jason Clarke), a British colonel in charge of removing any Nazi presence in and rebuilding a city burned to ashes.  Rachael is ready to see what life brings the newly united couple as they set off to their new home.  However, the unexpected happens when Rachael finds out that the couple will be sharing a mansion together with its previous owners, a German widower Stephen Lubert (Alexander Skarsgård) and his troubled teenage daughter Freda (Flora Thiemann).

This movie gives you a vintage romance story set shortly after wartime; where the wounds have not healed and it is tough to have a true winner.  With the war being so recent, it is expected that all parties involved will have experienced some sort of loss.  Rachael, Lewis, Stephan, and Freda are all dealing with vivid recent losses that cause issues in the new tense home dynamic.  No parties tackle these issues head on, creating tension between the two families resulting in yet more drama.   

Overall I enjoyed this movie. I feel like the movie nails the plot points where it tries to elicit a vivid reaction from the viewers.  And this is accomplished by some solid, but not overly strong performances from the cast.  Alexander and Keira had great chemistry, an underrated aspect of Skarsgård's work (but which Knightley seems to always have in her roles).  Clarke is predictably solid as he is in any role he takes. My only issue with this film is that the plot is super thin and, quite frankly, predictable.  The movie tries to be an emotional roller coaster, and does pick the right spots to add some intrigue or serious aspects when necessary.  And with grief being a major factor, there is some part of the story that will resonate with all viewers despite its predictability.  The Aftermath is an emotional, yet predictable roller coaster with a solid cast and a story that can resonate with most anyone.  It is enjoyable and should be seen if you absolutely love the cast, but make sure to wait for it to come out on video / streaming.  

Rent it

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Review: The Hummingbird Project

Release date: March 15, 2019
Running time: 110 minutes
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Salma Hayek

What happens when your edge over the competition is measured in milliseconds?  How much would you give to get that advantage, even for a little bit?  That is the dilemma in the new drama, The Hummingbird Project.  It is a fictional story (though it appears to be based on a real life project without all the drama) that follows two people as they try to build a special purpose fiber line that goes directly from Kansas City to New York in as straight a line as possible.  This would allow them to reduce the latency in a trade by a millisecond, and theoretically have an advantage on all other traders because of this.  

If this premise sounds a bit mundane, then maybe this movie is not for you.  Although the main challenge sounds boring, and the movie can tend to slow to a crawl at times (ironic for a movie that is all about speed and latency), the Hummingbird Project serves up plenty of drama in this high stakes technology / construction caper.  The lengths that the main characters go to in order to realize their dream is interesting to watch, even if the film does tend to drag in places.  And the main characters themselves are well cast, with Jesse Eisenberg playing his trademark confident egomaniac, Skarsgård playing a neurotic genius, and Hayek as the main antagonist.  Skarsgård particularly looks like a completely different person; he went through a complete physical transformation and is almost unrecognizable in this role.

However, the main issue with the Hummingbird Project is that it is just not a very interesting movie.  The filmmakers try to use the film to warn of some modern vices: the obsession with technology, the role of money in modern society, and the harm that both of those do to people, but these lessons are thinly veiled and fairly obvious.  And the vehicle through which these warnings are delivered is still a movie about high stakes financial traders trying to reduce latency.  I wish the story had been based on a real one, so I could have been more invested in the characters; but there is no indication in the film that this is the case.  It works overall, and the movie is worth seeing for the performances and the interesting premise of the film, but you can have a few months of latency before that happens.

Rent it


 Image result for Missing link movie poster

MISSING LINK opens in theaters on April 12, 2019

This April, meet Mr. Link: 8 feet tall, 630 lbs, and covered in fur, but don’t let his appearance fool you… he is funny, sweet, and adorably literal, making him the world’s most lovable legend at the heart of Missing Link, the globe-trotting family adventure from LAIKA. Tired of living a solitary life in the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Link recruits fearless explorer Sir Lionel Frost to guide him on a journey to find his long-lost relatives in the fabled valley of Shangri-La. Along with adventurer Adelina Fortnight, our fearless trio of explorers encounter more than their fair share of peril as they travel to the far reaches of the world to help their new friend. Through it all, the three learn that sometimes you can find a family in the places you least expect.

Director: Chris Butler
Writer: Chris Butler
Producers: Travis Knight p.g.a., Arianne Sutner p.g.a.
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, Zach Galifianakis, Timothy Olyphant, David Walliams, Emma Thompson, Matt Lucas, Ching Valdes-Aran, Stephen Fry, Amrita Acharia

Official Site: MissingLink.Movie
Facebook: /MissingLinkFilm
Instagram: @MissingLinkFilm 
Twitter: @LAIKAStudios

Screening details are below:

Saturday, April 6
AMC Mazza Gallerie
11:00 AM

to Download Passes NOW!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Review: Wonder Park

Release date: March 15, 2019
Running time: 85 minutes
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Mila Kunis, John Oliver

Let me just get this off my chest: the movie is called Wonder Park, but the park in the movie is called Wonderland!  My guess is that this is because of some sort of name dispute, but it just seemed odd.  That aside, Wonder Park is a cute, enjoyable kids movie that is a quick ride for all ages.  In the movie, the main character is transported to an imaginary park that she and her mom built as a kid, but something is slowly destroying the place.  June has to help her childhood toys figure out what is wrong and find a way to save Wonderland before it is too late.  

The movie is beautifully animated, with some very imaginative scenes that bring a child's imagination to life.  The Park itself is fun to explore, and seeing the characters overcome the various challenges is enjoyable.  The characters are imaginative, if a little one dimensional.  And those characters are brought to life by some good, but over the top voice acting.  The story itself proceeds at a brisk pace, with not much down time (a good thing for a kids movie, it definitely flies by).  However, that story goes from point A to point B with few roadblocks along the way.  Maybe this is good for a kids movie, but it seemed like there were little, if any challenges for the characters to overcome.  

Wonder Park is an imaginative, enjoyable experience for all ages.  The "scary" scenes are not frightening and the action is very family friendly.  The movie has some memorable characters, an interesting setting, but a fast story.  Wonder Park is not a roller coaster, but it is an enjoyable ride that will not leave you disappointed. 

Rent it

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Screening: The Best of Enemies

Image result for the best of enemies
In Theaters Friday, April 5, 2019

This film is rated PG-13

THE BEST OF ENEMIES is a timely, inspiring drama starring Academy Award® nominee Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures) and Academy Award® winner Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri). Based on a true story, THE BEST OF ENEMIES centers on the extraordinary relationship between Ann Atwater (Henson), a fearless and outspoken civil rights activist who faced off against C.P. Ellis (Rockwell), a local Ku Klux Klan leader, to blaze the way for school desegregation in Durham, North Carolina, in 1971.

Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Sam Rockwell, Babou Ceesay, Anne Heche, Wes Bentley, Nick Searcy, John Gallagher Jr., and Bruce McGill
Director: Robin Bissell
Writers: Written by Robin Bissell
Inspired by True Events Chronicled in the Book by Osha Gray Davidson
Producers: Danny Strong, p.g.a., Fred Bernstein, Matt Berenson, p.g.a., Robin Bissell, p.g.a, Dominique Telson, Tobey Maguire, Matthew Plouffe

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – @TheBestOfEnemies

Screening Details:
Wednesday, April 3rd
Regal Majestic

to Download Passes NOW!

Friday, March 8, 2019

What to Watch This Weekend: March 8, 2019

In Theaters: Captain Marvel
Marvel's origin story for it's newest fantastic female, and the last MCU movie before Avengers: Endgame.

From Redbox: Creed II
The follow-up to the surprisingly good Creed, this movie manages to make the tried-and-true Rocky formula feel fresh thanks to some fantastic performances and the introduction of characters from Rocky's past.

Streaming (Amazon): Meru
If you wanted to check out another movie from Jimmy Chin, the director of the Oscar winning documentary (and one of my favorite movies of last year) Free Solo, then check this out on Amazon Prime.

Streaming (Netflix): Incredibles II
In case you don't want to head to the theater to check out a superhero movie, Disney Pixar's Incredibles II is now on Netflix.  Although it doesn't feel as special as the first movie, it is an exciting sequel to one of the best Pixar animated films.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Review: Captain Marvel

Release date: March 8, 2019
Running time: 124 minutes
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn

Captain Marvel is the last Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to come out before next month's Avengers: Endgame.  If you were hoping that the movie would answer some of the burning questions left after Avengers: Infinity War, then you will be sorely disappointed.  Captain Marvel gives almost no clues as to what will happen in Marvel's next cinematic epic.  If you were hoping for a movie that would put Marvel on top of the female protagonist superhero movie genre, then you might also be disappointed.  Captain Marvel is many things, but it is not going to usurp Wonder Woman from that throne.  However, if you were hoping for a fun flashback into the origin of Marvel's newest (and strongest) female protagonist, then you won't leave disappointed.

The first thing you will notice about the movie (and something that some viewers might think is overdone) is the 90s nostalgia.  Captain Marvel beats you over the head with it at the start of the movie.  From the stores, to the technology, to the the music, Captain Marvel is overflowing with 90s references; it leaves no doubt what era it is set in.  Thankfully, it trails off as the film progresses, but the filmmakers do a good job of throwing additional references in to keep the 90s runaway train rolling.  The next thing you will notice about the movie is Brie Larson.  She does an great job as Captain Marvel, but unfortunately the character of Captain Marvel doesn't afford Larson the range that she is capable of.  She does a convincing job as Captain Marvel and was consistent with the story and character, but it was just unfortunate that Larson didn't seem to stretch her acting chops.  The rest of the casting is mostly spot on, with an honorable mention to the de-aged Samuel L. Jackson driving much of the story with his humor (when he is not overshadowed by Goose the cat).  

The story of Captain Marvel provides what you need from this film and the universe.  It tells an origin story of a new major character, and does so in a way that keeps the mystery until the last part of the film.  It ties into the overall Marvel cinematic universe, both with some recurring characters and key plot points.  However, it feels like the directors spent so much time on her backstory, that the latter half of the movie had to be rushed to fit into a two-hour movie window.  Several scenes progress too quickly, with potentially character building scenarios rushed to move onto the action.  Relationships are built too quickly and plot twists happen too conveniently.  

And that rush to the end also reflects on the final scenes.  Overall, the effects were very good, with the use of CG believable (to the extent that a super hero galaxy movie can be believable).  The de-aged characters are convincing and don't fall into the uncanny valley.  And the flashback scenes from Captain Marvel's past are beautifully done and help to draw you into the story.  However, in the rush to the finish, the movie jumps the shark in the effects department and the last third of the movie suffers when Captain Marvel herself falls into the uncanny valley.  I was disappointed as it distracted me during the climax of the film (think the Juggernaut fights in Deadpool 2), but overall the film has the expected level of Marvel cinematic effects polish.  And those effects are accompanied by great sound effects and a fantastic score fueled by 90s and Avengers nostalgia.

Captain Marvel introduces a pivotal new character to the Marvel Cinematic Universe; one that clearly has a central role in the next Avengers film.  The movie gives the audience her backstory in a fun, 90s-fueled story that also manages to tie together many aspects from other films in the MCU.  If you were hoping for a fun nostalgic movie that stars a strong female protagonist, then take a flight with Marvel's newest fantastic female.

Watch it

Listen to our Audio Podcast review Hosted by Cj of below 

Monday, March 4, 2019

Screening: The Hummingbird Project

Image result for "The Hummingbird Project" Poster
Directed & Written By: Kim Nguyen
Starring:  Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Salma Hayek
Release Date: Friday, March 22 (Washington, DC)
Running Time: 111 minutes
Rating: R

In this modern epic, Kim Nguyen exposes the ruthless edge of our increasingly digital world. Cousins from New York, Vincent (Jesse Eisenberg) and Anton (Alexander Skarsgård) are players in the high-stakes game of High-Frequency Trading, where winning is measured in milliseconds. Their dream? To build a straight fiber-optic cable line between Kansas and New Jersey, making them millions. But nothing is straightforward for this flawed pair. Anton is the brains, Vincent is the hustler, and together they push each other and everyone around them to the breaking point with their quixotic adventure. Constantly breathing down their necks is their old boss Eva Torres (Salma Hayek), a powerful, intoxicating and manipulative trader who will stop at nothing to come between them and beat them at their own game.

Screening Details:
Landmark Bethesda Row Cinema
Thursday, March 14th

To enter for a chance to win tickets to this screening, please send an email to watchorpass [at] gmail with the subject "THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT" and include in the body of the email your name and the answer to the question: "What is your dream project?"

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