Hope you enjoy my movie reviews which reflect my opinion of the many movies I’ve enjoyed or not!

SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS (2023) – My rating: 7.5/10

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023) Main Poster.pngShazam! Fury of the Gods is a superhero film based on the DC Comics character Shazam. Produced by New Line Cinema, DC Studios, and The Safran Company. Shazam is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, it is the sequel to Shazam! (2019) and the 12th installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film was directed by David F. Sandberg and written by Henry Gayden and Chris Morgan. In the film, Shazam and his foster siblings fight the Daughters of Atlas.  I’m not a big fan of Shazam movies but I wanted to review it for those who are fans. After seeing Shazam, my opinions haven’t changed. Shazam continues to be silly but interesting.

Two years after Thaddeus Sivana’s defeat, Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu), two of the daughters of the Titan Atlas, break into the Acropolis Museum in Athens, Greece to steal the Wizard’s broken staff. The duo then takes it to the imprisoned Wizard (Djimon Hounsou), forcing him to repair the staff and activate its powers. Meanwhile in Philadelphia, Billy Batson and his “Shazamily” of foster siblings save people on the collapsing Benjamin Franklin Bridge but are called out for its destruction. The team is beginning to drift apart at home due to their growing up and having personal interests. Billy and Mary are worried about being kicked out of the Vásquez family after they turn 18 and ages out of the foster system. In a dream, as Shazam, Billy is warned by the Wizard about Hespera and Kalypso, which causes the “Shazamily” team to research the Daughters of Atlas.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods has so much story to tell and I won’t give it away at this point. The “Shazamily” has issues including that their parents have no idea about the superpowers each child holds. There’s constant sneaking around, private meetings, and disappearing that goes unexplained. Some of the children have problems at school. There’s also the fact that two of the children are aging out of the system which will add to any alleged money problems Victor and Rosa Vásquez may be experiencing. To top it off, the daughters of Atlas have entered the scene to seek revenge on the Wizard and everyone he cares about for the killing of their father. One of the daughters goes rogue as the youngest daughter Anthea Anne (Rachel Zegler) presents different ideas. The film is somewhat childish but better than the first Shazam film. The story and the outcome are good.  I’m sure younger groups will enjoy Shazam! Fury of the Gods. I’ve outlined the cast of characters to help those who haven’t been following Shazam films.


Billy Batson (Asher Angel)
Shazam (Zachary Levi):
The champion of an ancient wizard, who possesses “the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury”

Superhero Pedro Peña (D. J. Cotrona)
Non-superhero Pedro Peña (Jovan Armand):

Billy’s older foster brother is openly gay, shy, and sensitive

Superhero Eugene Choi (Ross Butler)
Non-superhero Eugene Choi (Ian Chen):
Billy’s younger foster brother is an obsessive gamer

Superhero Darla Dudley (Meagan Good)
Non-superhero Darla Dudley (Faithe Herman):
Billy’s good-natured younger foster sister

Superhero Mary Bromfield/
Non-superhero Mary Bromfield (Grace Caroline Currey):
Billy’s mature and academically driven older foster sister. Currey also portrays Mary’s adult superhero form, replacing Michelle Borth from the first film.

Superhero Frederick “Freddy” Freeman (Adam Brody)
Non-superhero, disabled Frederick Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer):
Billy’s physically disabled foster brother is a fan of superheroes and is constantly bullied at school

Wizard/Shazam (Djimon Hounsou):
The last surviving member of the Council of Wizards, who bestowed his powers on Billy Batson, after designating the boy as his champion

Rosa Vásquez (Marta Milans)
Victor Vásquez (Cooper Andrews):
The foster parents of Billy and his foster siblings

Anthea Anne (Rachel Zegler): The youngest daughter of Atlas
Kalypso (Lucy Liu): The middle daughter of Atlas
Hespera (Helen Mirren): The oldest daughter of Atlas

Diana Prince/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot)
Emilia Harcourt (Jennifer Holland)
Dr. Dario Bava (P. J. Byrne)

As of March 19, 2023, Shazam! Fury of the Gods has grossed $30.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $35 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $65.5 million.  On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 53% of 170 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The website’s consensus reads, “More unfocused and less satisfying than its predecessor, Shazam! Fury of the Gods still retains almost enough of the source material’s silly charm to save the day.” Shazam! Fury of the Gods is currently in theaters — Check It Out!


OPERATION FORTUNE: Ruse De Guerre (2023) – My rating: 7.5/10

Operation Fortune.jpgOperation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre is a spy action comedy directed by Guy Ritchie, and written by Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, and Marn Davies. The film is about a spy, who must retrieve a stolen high-tech device before an arms dealer can sell it to the highest bidder.
I was intrigued by the trailers for this film, so I watched it with half-hearted expectations of greatness.  As it turns out, I actually liked Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre.

A gang of Ukrainian mobsters manages to steal a device known as “The Handle” with an estimated worth of billions of dollars. The British government hires Nathan Jasmine (Cary Elwes) to retrieve the Handle before billionaire arms dealer Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant) can sell it to the highest bidder. Nathan hires super-spy Orson Fortune (Jason Statham)  to lead a team made up of Sarah Fidel (Aubrey Plaza), JJ Davies (Bugzy Malone), and others. The team travels to Madrid, seeking the courier intended to transport the hard drive containing the data from the Handle.

Operation Fortune is your run-of-the-mill Statham film with lots of violence, spies, double-crossing, car chases, computer hacking, and special effects. The good news is it’s all very entertaining, action-packed, and exciting. The film is nothing we haven’t seen before but with mostly different characters playing the parts. I enjoyed Operation Fortune enough to give it a seven-point five out of ten rating but I didn’t think this film should be defined as a comedy, there was nothing funny about this story. Also, I like Jason Statham movies. The plot is decent and the acting is always good in these types of films.  When more than one government hires a team to go after the bad guy, there’s going to be fierce competition. I thought Hugh Grant appeared quite distinguished as a rich businessman. As of March 15, 2023, Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre has grossed $6.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $31.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $37.2 million. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 51% based on 125 reviews, with an average rating of 5.6/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “Operation Fortune can’t keep up with the best modern action movies, but it’s got just enough firepower for viewers seeking a few undemanding thrills.” I agree with Rotten Tomatoes, Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre is currently in theaters — Check It Out!


CREED III (2023) – My rating: 8.7/10

Creed III poster.pngCreed III is a sports drama directed by Michael B. Jordan (in his directorial debut) from a screenplay by Keenan Coogler and Zach Baylin. It is the sequel to Creed II (2018), the third in the Creed series, and the ninth overall in the Rocky film series. Creed III is about a thriving boxer who faces off against a childhood friend and former boxing prodigy.  Creed I and Creed II were outstanding films, so I expected Creed III to follow suit.  I wasn’t disappointed.

In 2002 Los Angeles, a young Adonis “Donnie” Creed (Thaddeus J. Mixon)  sneaks out with his best friend, Golden Gloves champion Damian “Diamond Dame” Anderson (Spence Moore II), to watch him compete in an underground boxing match. After Dame’s victory, the two friends drive to the liquor store where Donnie runs into an older man named Leon who had assaulted them repeatedly when they were even younger. Donnie attacks Leon and Damian draws a gun. The altercation causes Damian, who got caught, to go to jail for 18 years.  When Damian (Jonathan Majors) gets out he visits Donnie (Michael B. Jordan) who has prospered and runs Delphi Boxing Academy along with his partner Tony “Little Duke” Evers Jr. (Wood Harris). Donnie is also married to Bianca-Taylor Creed (Tessa Thompson) and has a daughter Amara Creed (Mila Davis-Kent).  Donnie is also promoting his protégé, world champion Felix “El Guerrero” Chavez (José Benavidez Jr.) in a match against Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu) for the Heavyweight championship. Dame expresses to Donnie, his desire to resume his boxing career.

Damian’s intentions are exposed as the film takes flight. Donnie comes out of retirement to save all that he has worked for over the years. In full Rocky fashion, the exasperating training is revealed and family problems come to the surface. Creed III is exciting, fun, intense, entertaining, and action-packed. The drama will keep you on the edge of your seat. I loved how Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson learned sign languish in order to communicate with their daughter Amara.  I also noted that Michael and Jonathan’s muscle mass was matched up for some real eye candy moments.  Overall, I loved the movie and think they could go on with many sequels for some time. Creed III has a great ending, showing tact, humanity, and how to lose graciously.  BTW: Mila Davis-Kent, who plays Creed’s daughter is the first Black deaf Actress to be featured in a major film. It seems like the film is setting up a future installment where Amara will follow her father’s trajectory and perhaps even become a boxer herself in Creed 4.

The film received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for Jordan’s direction and Majors’ performance. As of March 13, 2023, Creed III has grossed $104.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $78.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $182.5 million, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2023. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 88% of 295 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.1/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Stepping out from Rocky Balboa’s iconic shadow at last, the Creed franchise reasserts its champion status thanks to star Michael B. Jordan’s punchy direction and a nuanced heel turn by Jonathan Majors.” Creed III was definitely worth the watch and is playing in theaters — Check It Out!


TELL IT LIKE A WOMAN (2022) – My rating: 7.5/10

Tell It Like a Woman is an American–Italian anthology. Premiering at the Taormina Film Fest, Tell It Like a Woman is an anthology of seven short stories directed by women, about women, for everyone, both in front of and behind the camera. Tell It Like a Woman was filmed in different parts of the world. I watched Tell It Like a Woman because it has an Oscar nomination. The film had the potential to be great but wasn’t able to complete the necessary dots to make that happen.

Tell It Like a Woman is a feature film composed of seven short stories whose common denominator is the representation of female protagonists. Each of these very different women faces a particular challenge in their life with extreme determination and courage that makes them stronger and more self-aware. The film was shot in India, Italy, Japan, and the United States. Some of the stories were inspired by true events, while others are narrative fiction. The film covered drug addiction, mental health, child-rearing, homelessness, and partner abuse.

The acting was outstanding in all the stories but I felt Jennifer Hudson, who acted in the first story was brilliant and was the most powerful of the seven. After the third story, the themes seemed to go downhill.  The last story was animated and somewhat confusing, as I didn’t think the animation was a good fit. Tell it Like a Woman was hard to track down but finally became available to rent. I’ve provided a short synopsis of Tell it Like a Woman below:

The first:  Jennifer Hudson stars as an incarcerated mother with substance abuse and mental health issues.
The second:  Marcia Gay Harden plays a doctor who helps a woman (Cara Delevingne) with schizophrenia and who is homeless.
The third:  Eva Longoria travels to Italy to bury her sister and finds she’s been assigned as guardian for a niece she didn’t know she had.
The fourth:  Anne Watanabe plays an overworked mother whose two young children give her a useful gift.
The fifth:  Margherita Buy plays a veterinarian who is put in a position to help an abused woman after treating her dog.
The sixth:  Jacqueline Fernandez plays an unhappy plastic surgeon who abandons her obsession with perfection after meeting a trans woman.
The seventh is animated where alien-like creatures, forced to repeat gender stereotypes playing on televisions in surveilled concrete cells, are liberated. Tell it Like a Woman can be rented on Prime Video for $4.99 — Check It Out!

[TELL It LIKE A WOMAN is Oscar-nominated at the 95th Academy Awards for Best Original Song for a Total of 1 nomination]

COCAINE BEAR (2023) – My rating: 5.5/10

Cocaine Bear poster.jpgCocaine Bear is a comedy horror film directed and produced by Elizabeth Banks and written by Jimmy Warden. The film is loosely inspired by the true story of the “Cocaine Bear”, an American black bear that ingested millions of dollars worth of lost cocaine in 1985. I had a feeling Cocaine Bear was going to either be very funny or very stupid.  I was right, it was not good.  Cocaine Bear is dedicated to Ray Liotta, who died in his sleep at the age of 67 in May 2022, while filming the movie ‘Dangerous Waters’ in the Dominican Republic. It’s too bad one of Ray’s last movies is a semi-quasi bad one.

In 1985, drug smuggler Andrew C. Thornton II (Matthew Rhys) drops several duffle bags of cocaine from his plane. He attempts to parachute out with a drug-filled duffel bag, but knocks himself unconscious on the doorframe, causing him to fall to his death. His body lands in Knoxville, Tennessee where he is identified by Bob (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), a local detective. Bob concludes that the cocaine is likely from St. Louis drug kingpin Syd White (Ray Liotta), and the remainder of the drugs is missing. Meanwhile, in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, an American black bear eats some of the cocaine, becomes highly aggressive, and attacks two hikers, Elsa (Hannah Hoekstra) and Olaf (Kristofer Hivju).

Other folks were also attacked including two children Dee Dee (Brooklynn Prince) and her best friend Henry (Christian Convery) who played hooky from school because they wanted to spray paint the waterfalls while in the National Forest. Eventually, Sari (Keri Russell), who is Dee Dee’s mom, shows up to find the children and teams up with Park ranger Liz (Margo Martindale) and Peter (Jesse Tyler Ferguson), a wildlife activist.  The entire cast ends up in the forest for different reasons but all are subject to an attack by the aggressive cocaine-eating bear.  Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) and Daveed (O’shea Jackson Jr.), who are part of the drug family who is looking to recover the remainder of the cocaine for Syd, are attacked and end up in one of the funniest scenes of the film.  So this is some of what the movie is about, however, it’s not the true story.

The only truth is Andrew C Thornton, a former narcotics officer became involved with a drug smuggling outfit in Lexington Kentucky.  He tried to parachute from a private charter plane with roughly $4,500, two guns, a knife, and several duffle bags filled with bricks of cocaine.  Thornton knocked himself out while attempting to jump from the plane and was found dead in a backyard or driveway in Clay County, NC.

The truth is that the 180 lb bear was found 4 months after the plane crashed, dead in Northern GA among 40 open plastic containers with traces of cocaine. The bear had three to four grams of cocaine in his system and died of an overdose. Also, the bear didn’t attack anyone nor did it kill anyone.  I like this original story better.  I think there were not more than three funny scenes which were not enough to deem this movie a comedy.  I did not like the violent scenes that had limbs flying and heads rolling.  Many people died and many people were maimed. I can’t understand why anyone would want to see this horrific violence for a laugh that never happened.  The Cocaine Bear is a popular movie however, I overheard some viewers complaining that it was a waste of time.  I was slightly entertained waiting for a good ending.  I’m still waiting. See Cocaine Bear at your own risk — I warn you, it’s bloody — Check It Out!

FYI:  The “Cocaine Bear” aka Pablo Eskobear is currently on display at the Kentucky Fun Mall in Lexington, Kentucky as of 2015.

As of March 2, 2023, Cocaine Bear has grossed $30.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $5.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $35.5 million. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 69% of 260 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.1/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Despite Cocaine Bear’s half-baked plot and uneven acting, the titular fur fiend’s scene-snorting frenzy will give B-movie enthusiasts a contact high.” In a negative review, Nicholas Barber of BBC criticized the human characters and their interactions. He wrote, “Instead of showing us the moment when the title character discovered and ingested the drugs, the film keeps introducing more and more characters who could have been in the first draft of a Coen brothers script”


ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA: (2023) – My rating: 9/10

Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania poster.jpg

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a superhero film based on Marvel Comics. The film is produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, and is the sequel to Ant-Man (2015) and Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) and the 31st film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The version was directed by Peyton Reed and written by Jeff Loveness. In the film, Lang and Van Dyne are transported to the Quantum Realm along with their family and face Kang the Conqueror. Did anybody say superheroes, then I’m right there. I enjoyed this version of Ant-Man more than the others. It was beautifully filmed among other reasons for my high rating.

During her days of entrapment in the Quantum Realm, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) encounters an exiled traveler named Kang (Jonathan Majors). In the present day, after the Battle of Earth, Scott Lang/Ant-man (Paul Rudd) has become a successful memoirist and has been living happily with his girlfriend, Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). Scott’s now-teenage daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) has become a political activist, resulting in her spending some time in jail before being bailed out by her father, whom she has become estranged from since he started focusing more on his celebrity status than his duties as Ant-Man. While visiting Hope’s parents, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Janet, Cassie reveals that she has been working on a device that can establish contact with the Quantum Realm. Upon learning of this, Janet panics and forcefully shuts off the device, but the message is received, resulting in a portal that opens and pulls the five of them into the Quantum Realm. Scott and Cassie are found by natives who are rebelling against their ruler, while Hope, Janet, and Hank explore a sprawling city to get answers.

I found this version of Ant-Man to be even more scenic than versions one and two.  There were objects on the screen I’d never seen before.  Each frame was beautiful, in my opinion.  I also thought the plot was easy to follow.  Not knowing much about quantum physics, I was glad they kept things simple enough for audiences to digest.  There is a whole lot of story to explore as many bumps in the road are presented. Was it just me or did Hope and Michelle look like real-life mother and daughter?  On that note, I must point out the special effects that were outstanding as was the cinematography.  I’ve read some reviews that I totally disagreed with as Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania was entertaining, exciting, and blended the past with the current events so that it made perfect sense.  Michelle Pfeiffer was amazing. I’m glad there are parts in the DC and MCU for actors and actresses who are advancing in age.  I don’t know about everyone else, but I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out how it was all going to end.  Despite what other critics have to say, you really should see Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania for yourself.  Clear your mind and form your own opinion.  In the meanwhile, I recommend Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania for everyone. I’ve added an FYI with future information and for those who may have forgotten WHO’s WHO, see below.

FYI:  In February 2023, Douglas said he would be interested in returning for a fourth film if Hank Pym died in it, while Broussard said that he had started to discuss a potential fourth film with Feige and Reed.


Paul Rudd as Scott Lang / Ant-Man:
An Avenger and former petty criminal with a suit that allows him to shrink or grow in scale while increasing in strength. After the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), Lang has become a well-known celebrity to the public, as well as the author of an autobiographical book titled Look Out for the Little Guy, which tells a different version of how he helped save the universe from Thanos in Endgame.

Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne / Wasp:
The daughter of Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne who is handed down a similar suit and the Wasp mantle from her mother. She serves as the head of the Pym van Dyne Foundation, which uses the Pym Particles for humanitarian efforts. Lilly said the film would explore how the character deals with her “fragilities and her vulnerabilities”, continuing from how Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) showed how powerful and capable she was.

Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror
A “time-traveling, multiversal adversary” trapped in the Quantum Realm who needs Pym Particles to get his ship and a device online that would allow him to go anywhere and when in time. Kang is an alternate-timeline variant of the character He Who Remains, the creator of the Time Variance Authority (TVA), who was introduced in the finale of the first season of Loki (2021). Majors added 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of muscle for the role, focusing on strength and conditioning training. Reed said Quantumania would show a “different flavor” of Majors’ approach to Kang’s alternate versions and explained that Kang “has dominion over time”, calling him a warrior, strategist, and “all-timer antagonist” compared to the antagonists of the prior Ant-Man films as a “force of nature”, one that adds “tonal diversity, real conflict, and real friction”. Given his work with time, Kang does not live a linear life.  Majors also portray numerous Kang variants within the Council of  Kangs including Immortus, Rama-Tut, and Centurion, as well as the variant Victor Timely.

Kathryn Newton as Cassie Lang:
Scott Lang’s 18-year-old daughter acquires a suit like her father’s. She is scientifically inclined and gains an interest in Pym’s old notes and learning more about science and technology from the Quantum Realm. Reed said that he wanted to further develop the relationship between Cassie and Scott, as it was central to the previous Ant-Man films. The character was previously portrayed as a child by Abby Ryder Fortson in the previous Ant-Man films and as a teenager by Emma Fuhrmann in Endgame.

David Dastmalchian as Veb:
A slime-like creature that lives in the Quantum Realm. Dastmalchian previously portrayed Kurt in the first two Ant-Man films.

Katy O’Brian as Jentorra:
The leader of the Freedom Fighters who is rebelling against Kang’s oppression of the communities in the Quantum Realm.

William Jackson Harper as Quaz:
A telepath who lives in the Quantum Realm.

Bill Murray as Lord Krylar:
The governor of the lavish Axia community in the Quantum Realm has a history with Janet van Dyne in the Quantum Realm. Reed believed Murray’s character represented a person’s past “always find[ing] a way to show up again” and the film’s theme of secrets between family members and how they are each affected by them.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet van Dyne:
 Pym’s wife, Hope’s mother, and the original Wasp, who was lost in the Quantum Realm for 30 years.

Corey Stoll as Darren Cross / M.O.D.O.K.:
Pym’s former protégé who was shrunken to subatomic size in the Quantum Realm during the events of Ant-Man (2015) and became a mutated, cybernetically enhanced individual with an oversized head known as M.O.D.O.K. Loveness described the character as a cross between Kevin Kline’s Otto West from A Fish Called Wanda (1988) and Frank Grimes from The Simpsons season eight episode “Homer’s Enemy” (1997). Loveness felt M.O.D.O.K. to be his favorite character in the film because they put a “little extra” on him and said M.O.D.O.K.’s ego would be crumbled throughout the film whenever he is challenged, but like Otto West, easily kills as a “real loose cannon.”

Michael Douglas as Hank Pym:
A former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, entomologist, and physicist who became the original Ant-Man after creating the suit. In the film, Pym was written to be more “relaxed” than in previous MCU appearances, as he is more focused on reacquainting with Janet than his work. As a result, Broussard described Pym as “a little more sure of himself” and “not looking around every corner”. Loveness believed that Pym’s fascination with ants, a trait only comically referenced previously, was a critical hallmark of the character, and thus decided to expand on it in the film. Broussard felt the expansion was “a weird thing … but also awesome … a bit of an acknowledgment.

FYI and WHO’s WHO are compliments of Wikipedia!


MISSING (2023) – My rating: 7/10

Missing poster.jpg

Missing is a screen life thriller written and directed by Will Merrick and Nick Johnson (in their feature directorial debuts) from a story by Sev Ohanian and Aneesh Chaganty, who also produced the film with Natalie Qasabian. The film is a stand-alone sequel to “Searching”, (2018).  A teenager tries to find her missing mother after she disappears on vacation in Colombia with her new boyfriend. The trailer for this film looked so exciting that I was immediately hooked. After seeing Missing, I thought the movie turned out to tell a pretty decent story.

In an archive video, a young June Allen (Storm Reid) is with her deceased father James (Tim Griffin), who died from a brain tumor shortly after the video was made. Presently, June plans a house party once her mother Grace (Nia Long) leaves for a week-long trip to Colombia with her new boyfriend Kevin (Ken Leung), telling June, to her annoyance, that she will be looked on by her mother’s good friend, Heather (Amy Landecker), who is a divorce lawyer.

A week later, June is tasked to pick up her mother and Kevin at Los Angeles International Airport, but they never show up, causing June to contact the authorities. Frustrated by the lack of progress by the FBI, June decides to investigate herself using an array of digital tools that are at her disposal like Google Maps (where she tries to track her mother’s location in Colombia), Facebook messages, internet search histories, and much more. She also hires Javier (Joaquim de Almeida), a Colombian gig worker who agrees to help June for a small fee.

June turns out to be quite resourceful but still has not learned what happened to her mother and her Kevin. As time passes, much is revealed while things start to heat up.  Nobody seems to be what June thought. June’s best friend and Javier appear to be the only people she can trust. Several movies and series have existed by the name “MISSING” and they all tell an intriguing story. This version was pretty good but leaves quite a few questions about simple everyday decision-making.  Remember Missing is a sequel to Searching (2018), which was announced back on January 13, 2021. Searching’s film’s editors, Will Merrick and Nick Johnson would write the screenplay and direct Missing based on a treatment by Chaganty and Ohanian.

Missing made $3.4 million on its first day, including $760,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to domestically gross $28,367,645 (100%), and $13,633 internationally, for a worldwide total of $28,381, 278 as of Feb. 2023. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 86% of 106 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Missing can strain credulity in its efforts to keep the audience guessing, but a fast pace and relatable fears keep this twisty techno-thriller from completely losing its way.” Missing is currently showing in theaters — Check It Out!


EMPIRE OF LIGHT (2022) – My rating: 8.3/10

Empire of Light (film).jpg

Empire of Light is a British drama directed, written, and co-produced by Sam Mendes. This drama is set in an English coastal town in the early 1980s and tells about the power of human connection during turbulent times.
Aside from Olivia Coleman being one of the greatest actresses of our time, I also liked the trailer, which made me want to see this movie.  I thought the film was well done.

Hilary Small (Olivia Coleman) works as a duty manager at the “Empire Cinema”, Margate, on the north coast of Kent, England. Hilary struggles with bipolar disorder and lives alone. She has been prescribed lithium by her doctor and is having extramarital sex with her boss Donald Ellis (Colin Firth). A new employee, who is a British Black man,  Stephen (Michael Ward) comes on board at the Margate cinema. Stephen lives with his mother Delia (Tanya Moodie) who works as a nurse. Hilary and Stephen begin a relationship. The pair find it difficult to deal with the racism Stephen experiences from some locals, as well as Hilary’s past relationships.

Empire of Light is a well-acted and profound story with a message that doesn’t seem to have a resolution.  It’s sad that we are still dealing with racism in 2023 but it is forever present in today’s society.  Mental illness is also more prevalent than ever.  One is nobody’s fault however there are meds and therapists that can control the situation and the other is a fixed opinion that one could rid themself of if one really wanted to. Olivia Coleman always gives a riveting performance in her films and many have been nominated for the coveted Oscar award. The story takes a surprising turn revealing much to many of its characters and audience. Empire of Light is probably not for everyone as there is sex, violence, and profanity, but all tastefully done. Colman was critical of the sex scenes that made it into the final cut of the film. She believed they were unnecessary to advance the plot. It’s a story well told with amazing cinematography features.

As of January 2023, Empire of Light grossed $1,177,577 (21%) DOMESTIC, $4,424,014 (79%) INTERNATIONAL, for a total of $5,601,591 WORLDWIDE.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 44%, based on 212 reviews, with an average rating of 5.7/10. The site’s critic’s consensus reads: “Empire of Light contains some fine performances and a few flashes of brilliance, but this tribute to the magic of cinema is disappointingly mundane.” While I disagree with the Rotten Tomatoes critic’s consensus, I recommend Empire of Light which is currently showing in limited theaters and streaming on HBO MAX with a subscription and for sale on Prime Video ($14.99) – Check It Out!

[EMPIRE OF LIGHT is Oscar-nominated for Best Cinematography at the 95th Academy Awards for a total of 1 nomination]


PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH (2022) – My rating: 9.5/10

Puss in Boots The Last Wish poster.jpgPuss in Boots: The Last Wish is a computer-animated adventure produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Universal Pictures. The sequel to the spin-off film Puss in Boots (2011) and the sixth installment in the Shrek franchise, the film was directed by Joel Crawford and co-directed by Januel Mercado. Based on the character from Shrek 2 (2004) and inspired by the fairy tale by Giovanni Francesco Straparola, the film’s screenplay was written by Paul Fisher and Tommy Swerdlow, with a story by Swerdlow and Tom Wheeler (the latter of whom wrote the 2011 film). Set after Shrek Forever After (2010), the film follows Puss in Boots as he journeys to find the mystical Last Wish for the Wishing Star by teaming up with Kitty and Perrito (Guillén) to restore the first eight of his nine lives, but comes with several challenges. I thought Puss and Boots: The Last Wish was fun and exciting.


In the town of Del Mar, renowned hero and outlaw Puss in Boots (voice: Antonio Banderas) hosts a party at the governor’s home and accidentally awakens the nearby Sleeping Giant of Del Mar. Puss subdues the giant and saves the town, but is fatally crushed by a bell. Puss wakes up in a hospital, where a doctor (voice: Anthony Mendez) informs him that he has used eight of his nine lives and suggests he retire from adventuring. Puss initially refuses. Later, in a local cantina, Puss meets a mysterious black-hooded wolf (voice: Wagner Moura), who disarms him and gashes his forehead in a duel. Puss flees to the house of a cat lady named Mama Luna (voice: Da’Vine Joy Randolph), and ceremoniously buries his attire in her garden.

The adventure is just getting started. Puss encounters many tough situations.  Having made a decision to go on a profound journey, Puss will never be the same.  I thought the story told a valuable lesson for everyone. Puss, who is bordering on being a narcissist learns what it really means to only care about himself and to make life about just you while alienating everyone you knew. Puss gets to hear many sad stories and still decides to find the magical wishing star to restore the eight lives he lost. In the meanwhile, Goldilocks (voice: Florence Pugh) and the Three Bears, Mama bear (voice: Olivia Colman), Papa bear (voice: Ray Winstone), and Baby bear (voice: Samson Kayo) [are a crime family], Kitty Softpaws (voice: Selma Hayek Pinault) [Puss’ x-fiance], “Big” Jack Horner (voice: John Mulaney) and his Henchmen (a corrupt pastry chef and collector of magical artifacts) are all in competition for the wishing star, all while the Black Hooded Wolf (death) is pursuing Puss to take his 9th life.  I found the animation to be outstanding. I enjoyed the adventure and the story, and recommend this family film to all.

As of February 6, 2023, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish has grossed $152.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $224.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $376.4 million.  On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 95% of 174 critics’ reviews are positive with an average rating of 7.5/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Arriving more than a decade after the previous installment, the smart, sweet, and funny Puss in Boots: The Last Wish proves some franchises only get better with age.”  Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is showing in theaters and can be rented on Prime Video and Vulu — Check It Out!

[PUSS IN BOOTS is Oscar-nominated at the 95th Academy Awards for BEST: Animated Feature Film – Totaling 1 Oscar nomination]


RRR (2022) – My rating: 10/10

RRR Poster.jpgRRR is an Indian Telugu-language epic action drama directed by S. S. Rajamouli, who co-wrote the film with V. Vijayendra Prasad. It was produced by D. V. V. Danayya of DVV Entertainment. RRR centers around fictional versions of two Indian revolutionaries,  their friendship, and their fight against the British Raj. Out of all the 95th Oscar-nominated movies, RRR brought me the most joy, entertainment, and excitement.  I loved this movie, plus it’s on Netflix.
In 1920, during the British Raj, administrator Scott Buxton (Ray Stevenson) and his wife Catherine Buxton (Alison Doody) visit a forest in Adilabad, where they abduct Malli (Twinkle Sharma), a young girl with a talent for artistry, from the Gond tribe. Enraged by the act, the tribe’s guardian Komaram Bheem/Akhtar (Rama Rao), travels to Delhi with the intent of rescuing her, under the guise of a Muslim man named Akhtar. Elsewhere, the Nizamate of Hyderabad, sympathetic to the Raj, warns Scott’s office of the impending danger. Undeterred, Catherine enlists the assistance of A. Rama Raju/Alluri Sitarama Raju (Charan), an ambitious officer in the Indian Imperial Police to extinguish the threat. Embarking on his new assignment, Raju and his uncle, Venkateswarulu (Samuthirakani), attend several pro-independence gatherings in the hopes of finding clues. His opinions attract the attention of Lachhu (Rahul Ramakrishna), Bheem’s gullible aide.

From this point, the story, which was already exciting, picks up, displaying the extraordinary skills of these two starring legends, Raju and Bheem. The racist, powerful administrator and his power-hungry, racist wife caused many deaths and revolutions to take place.  The acting was outstanding and the cinematography was breathtaking.  From the onset of this movie, I heard music that grabbed my attention immediately.  Out of all this movie stood for, the only nomination it received was for best original song. I grant you this is a fantasy however it leaves you feeling happy, and wanting more, even though the running time for RRR is three hours and seven minutes. I don’t think anything was left out from the beginning to the end, all questions were answered. RRR had romance, lies, trickery, anger, revenge, justice, public flogging, surrender, friendship, imprisonment, rescue, humor, compassion, fantasy, and lots of action and drama.  You just couldn’t ask for more.

RRR opened to universal acclaim from both Indian and Western critics. Praise was for its screenplay and direction by Rajamouli, the bombastic action sequences, characterization, performances from its leads, and musical numbers. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 95% of 94 critics’ reviews are positive, with an average rating of 8.20/10. The website’s consensus reads, “Intoxicatingly over the top, RRR pulls out all the stops to make the absolute most of its 187-minute runtime.” Made on a budget of ₹550 crores ($72 million), RRR is the most expensive Indian film to date. RRR grossed $14,869,112 (9.4%) domestically, $142,988,696 (90.6%) internationally, and $157,857,808 Worldwide.  RRR is currently streaming on Netflix — Check It Out!

FYI: Rajamouli came across stories about the lives of Rama Raju and Bheem and connected the coincidences between them, imagining what would have happened had they met and been friends. In June 2022, the film was ranked 86th globally on the list of Rotten Tomatoes “The 100 Best Movies 3 hours or Longer”, making it the third Indian film to be on the list after Lagaan (12th) and Gangs of Wasseypur (66th). USA Today ranked the film #1 in their list of “Best Movies of 2022 so far” in June of the same year.

[RRR is Oscar-nominated at the 95th Academy Awards for BEST: Music (Original Song) – Totaling 1 Oscar nomination]

WON an Oscar for ORIGINAL SONG (Naatu Naatu)