Thursday, May 30, 2019

Review: Rocketman

Release date: May 31, 2019
Running time: 121 minutes
Starring: Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard

Rocketman is the biographical drama of Sir Elton John, chronicling the performer's childhood, rise to fame, and some of the challenges that resulted from both.  

The story is told in an unexpected way:  instead of a standard historical drama, many of the scenes have musical and fantastical experiences.  Some of this might be due to childhood whimsy, some might be due to drugs, and some might just be a way to capture John's unique perspective.  It is jarring at first, but fits the character and the various stages of his life.

The movie about the life of Elton John needs a strong actor to take on that role, and thankfully Taron Egerton fully embraces the role.  Egerton transforms as Elton, taking on his mannerisms, style, and personality.  He is fantastic.  Egerton is joined by some equally engaging talent, but as I imagine all people do around Elton, they cannot match the brilliance of the main character.  And a film about Elton John wouldn't be complete without some fantastic music, and thankfully the film sticks to Elton John's repertoire. The music and costumes, what John is most well known for are perfectly recreated in the film.  However, this is a movie that can be enjoyed at home.

However, the film really tries to take on the dramatic nature of Elton John's life.  And the main problem with this is that, at least in the film, the problems he deals with and the trials that he has to overcome don't have the weight that they should have.  There is a scene part way through that is supposed to be a callous statement about his life, but the way the movie portrays him it is spot on.  Maybe there was just too much to cover for a two hour movie, but it does seem like the film spends an inordinate amount of time on his childhood and not enough time on his rise and later life.  

Rocketman is a spectacle with fantastic music and a phenomenal performance by Taron Egerton.

Watch it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Release date: May 30, 2019
Running time: 131 minutes
Starring: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown

The Godzilla cinematic universe (yes, one of the promotional videos called it something to that effect) is trying to reboot itself for a modern time.  Godzilla: King of the Monsters is the first movie in what Warner Bros and Legendary hope will be a revival of this property.  Let's start with the good, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is a visual and auditory treat.  The CG is very well done, with larger than life monsters, explosions, and fights.  When these monsters clash, they take down entire cities with them, which the movie happily depicts.  Accompanying these visuals is some truly immense sound that will make you shake with every massive movement from these creatures.  If this is your kind of movie, you'll want to see it in theaters.  The effects are epic, the sound is fantastic, and the actions scenes are larger than life.

Unfortunately, the effects are the only good thing about this movie.  The plot makes no sense.  The story tries to tie the monsters in the Godzilla universe to a greater human history and the current woes facing our planet, but it is a little too serious for a summer action movie.  The plot itself and the actions the characters take also make no sense.  The story goes to great lengths to travel to exotic locales and have these monsters fight, but in the end the reasons for all this travel are confusing at best and just bad at worst.

The characters are likewise forgettable, with many poor choices being made to advance the plot.  And part of this goes with some lackluster dialogue and justifications for their poor decisions.  Many emotional scenes fall flat because the premise is so ridiculous.  

The problem with Godzilla is that it is a movie that really benefits from being on the big screen, but outside of the effects, there isn't a reason to pay the premium to go see it.  Godzilla: King of the Monsters is an effects spectacle with a convoluted plot and not enough self awareness to save it from the poor story and forgettable characters.

Rent it

Friday, May 24, 2019

Screening: YESTERDAY

Be among the first to see YESTERDAY at AMC Tysons next Wednesday night by getting your passes at the link bellow !!

Yesterday | Movie Synopsis & Cast | June 28, 2019
Yesterday, everyone knew The Beatles. Today, only Jack remembers their songs. He’s about to become a very big deal. From Academy Award®-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later) and Richard Curtis, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually and Notting Hill, comes a rock-n-roll comedy about music, dreams, friendship, and the long and winding road that leads to the love of your life.
Related image
Jack Malik (Himesh Patel, BBC’s Eastenders) is a struggling singer-songwriter in a tiny English seaside town whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading, despite the fierce devotion and support of his childhood best friend, Ellie (Lily James, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again). Then, after a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed … and he finds himself with a very complicated problem, indeed.

Performing songs by the greatest band in history to a world that has never heard them, and with a little help from his steel-hearted American agent, Debra (Emmy winner Kate McKinnon), Jack’s fame explodes. But as his star rises, he risks losing Ellie — the one person who always believed in him. With the door between his old life and his new closing, Jack will need to get back to where he once belonged and prove that all you need is love.
Featuring new versions of The Beatles’ most beloved hits, Yesterday is produced by Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner (Love Actually, About A Boy, the Bridget Jones series) alongside Matthew James Wilkinson and Bernie Bellew. Curtis and Boyle also produce. Nick Angel, Lee Brazier and Liza Chasin serve as executive producers.

Himesh Patel, Lily James, Ed Sheeran, Kate McKinnon

Danny Boyle

Screenplay By
Richard Curtis

Story By
Jack Barth and Richard Curtis

Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Matthew James Wilkinson, Bernie Bellew, Richard Curtis, Danny Boyle

Executive Producers
Nick Angel, Lee Brazier, Liza Chasin

Screening Details: 
Wednesday, May 29th 
AMC Tyson's Corner 

to Download Passes NOW!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Screening: Late Night

Opens nationwide on June 7th.

It is rated R with a running time of 119 minutes

Cast: Emma Thompson, Mindy Kaling, Max Casella, Hugh Dancy, John Lithgow, Denis O'Hare, Reid Scott, and Amy Ryan

Written by: Mindy Kaling

Directed by: Nisha Ganatr

SYNOPSIS:  Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson) is a pioneer and legendary host on the late-night talkshow circuit. When she’s accused of being a “woman who hates women,” she puts affirmative action on the to-do list, and—presto!—Molly (Mindy Kaling) is hired as the one woman in Katherine’s all-male writers’ room. But Molly might be too little too late, as the formidable Katherine also faces the reality of low ratings and a network that wants to replace her. Molly, wanting to prove she’s not simply a diversity hire who’s disrupting the comfort of the brotherhood, is determined to help Katherine by revitalizing her show and career—and possibly effect even bigger change at the same time. 

 Screening Details
Wednesday, June 5th
7:00 PM
AMC Mazza Gallerie
to Download Passes NOW!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Review: Booksmart

Release date: May 24, 2019
Running time: 102 minutes
Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams

Booksmart is a new comedy from director Olivia Wilde.  It tells the story of two high school try hards who--after spending all of high school studying and playing by the book--realize that they have one night left to have fun before both graduation and their lives diverge.  If this sounds like a familiar story, it is but don't let that fool you.  Booksmart is an original, brilliant coming of age comedy that takes this tried and true trope and puts a modern spin on it.

The first things you will notice about Booksmart are the two leads.  Dever and Feldstein have natural chemistry and their comedic styles and personalities play off each other perfectly.  This is helped by some seriously sharp and funny writing.  The comedy is based in both their friendship and a lot of the standard growing up / high school / pressure to succeed themes.  The main friends are relate-able, especially for those of us that had a similarly boring high school experience (without the epic, fun night of debauchery before graduation).  And the other high school stereotypes are perfectly exaggerated versions of your typical high school cliques: drama nerds, jocks, popular kids, and rich kids to name a few.  Their interactions are laugh out loud funny and a perfect hyperbolized encapsulation of the high school experience.  

Accompanying the fantastic writing and characters is some wonderful music.  Although it doesn't overtly catch your attention, it is a perfect accompaniment to the overall caper.  It is exactly the type of soundtrack you would want: one that hits all the right notes but doesn't overpower the comedy and relationships.  The story, despite feeling like your typical coming of age high school nerd story, has plenty of twists, turns, and funny moments.  It will keep you guessing what happens next as you root for Dever and Feldstein to make it to their destination.  

Booksmart is a smart, sharp, hilarious comedy and the new valedictorian of the high school coming of age class.

Watch it

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Review: The Hustle

Release date: May 10, 2019
Running time: 93 minutes
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, Alex Sharp 

The Hustle is a gender-bent, modern remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  In it, Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson play competing con artists attempting to extract money from their latest mark, Alex Sharp.  Although the film definitely feels like a remake (especially the first scenes), the Hustle does a nice job of adapting the movie to take into account the new female leads, as well as the changing societal and technological advances that have occurred since the late eighties.

The film is a comedic caper, and thankfully the comedy holds up with the remake.  Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson have good chemistry throughout the film, and there are several laugh out loud moments, as well as some genuinely funny jokes.  The pair don't stray far from their typical roles but the two naturally play off each other throughout the film.  The pair are joined by a small, but solid set of supporting members of the con, as well as the genuinely funny mark.  This is a movie that gets by on the relationship between Hathaway and Wilson, and the way their characters play off each other is a joy to watch.

That being said, Hathaway's accent throughout the film feels ridiculous and is distracting.  She is a fantastic actress so the forced accent--which I am assuming was by design--really jars whenever you hear it.  And although the film does a generally good job of portraying the protagonists as strong female leads, the ending seems to stray from this message and just leaves a sour note to an otherwise entertaining film.

The Hustle is a genuinely funny remake / update of a classic film, with a promising start but an ending that will leave you feeling slightly conned.

Rent it

Screening: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

In 3D and 2D in select theaters and IMAX on May 31

SYNOPSIS: Action Adventure. The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.  When these ancient superspecies—thought to be mere myths—rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.

DIRECTOR: Michael Dougherty

CAST: Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, Aisha Hinds, O’Shea Jackson Jr., David Strathairn,  with Ken Watanabe and Ziyi Zhang

RATING: PG-13 for sequences of monster action violence and destruction, and for some language.



#GodzillaMovie #GodzillaKingOfTheMonsters 

 Screening Details
Monday, May 28
AMC Mazza Gallerie
5300 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC
7:00 pm

to Download Passes NOW!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Screening: Booksmart

In Theaters Friday, May 24, 2019

SYNOPSIS: Told from a wildly original, fresh and modern perspective, BOOKSMART is an unfiltered comedy about high school best friends and the bonds we create that last a lifetime. Capturing the spirit of our times, the film is a coming of age story for a new generation.

DIRECTOR: Olivia Wilde 

WRITER: Katie Silberman 

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Jillian Longnecker, Scott Robertson, Alex G. Scott 

CAST: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams with Will Forte, with Lisa Kudrow, and Jason Sudeikis



 Screening Details
AMC Mazza Gallerie
7:00 PM
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Review: John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum

Release date: May 17, 2019
Running time: 130 minutes
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Ian McShane

Tick tock, Mr. Wick.  John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum takes place immediately after the last John Wick.  John has gotten himself into a conundrum, and in true John Wick fashion his only hope of survival will involve old favors, coins from his past life, and lots of bullets.  This time John has a price tag on his head, and all his old colleagues are lining up to take on the baba yaga himself.   

John Wick is all about action and this movie does not disappoint.  The fights are the highlight of this film and the action is brutal and imaginative.  John Wick's fights have never shied from violence and this film continues that tradition with some truly imaginative fights and bone crunching sounds.  Although the action is varied and brutal, the choreography itself is a little slower than I would have liked.  Perhaps it is just John Wick showing his age, but there were several fights that had a medieval times type of vibe, where moves are visibly held waiting for the opponent to wander right into them.  It distracts a little but, thankfully, is only a minor knock against some truly knock out fights.   

John Wick has a certain style to it and this movie does not disappoint.  Despite the generally dark environment and subject matter, there are plenty of bright colors and vibrant lights to keep the action engaging.  The movie has a fairly diverse set design, with John traveling to many locations throughout New York City and afar in an attempt to extract himself from his current predicament.  John travels to a couple exotic locations, and some of these scenes are truly breathtaking the first time you see them.  

If there is one knock against John Wick (other than the minor issue with the fight choreography) it is that the story itself is lacking.  There is a through line, but the plan itself that John comes up with is one part confusing and another part convoluted.  Additionally, although the film tries to have the audience empathize with John when he reveals his motivation to continue fighting, the motivation felt disingenuous to the John Wick character.  

Minor criticisms aside, John Wick Chapter 3 is an action-packed new chapter in the John Wick saga.  It has John Wick's trademark flair, brutal and imaginative action, and continues the assassin's story against ever increasing odds.  

Watch it