Category Archives: CURRENT MOVIE REVIEWS

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

THE INVISIBLE MAN (2020) – My rating 9/10

The Invisible Man is a science fiction horror film written and directed by Leigh Whannell. A contemporary adaptation and reimagining of the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells and a reboot of The Invisible Man film series of the 1930s-1950s, it follows a woman who deduces that her abusive and wealthy boyfriend has acquired the ability to become invisible and is stalking her. Critics praised the film and the star’s performance, its inventive modernization of the novel’s plot, and the combination of scares with “a smart narrative about how women can be manipulated and abused in harmful relationships.”

Cecilia “Cee” Kass (Elisabeth Moss) is trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with wealthy optics scientist, Adrian Griffin (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). It’s 3:41am, Cecilia quietly raises from her bed, leaving Adrian who is drugged with Diazepam. She sneaks through the house, grabs her already packed bags before finally making a clean escape.  Cecilia meets her sister, Emily Kass (Harriet Dyer) who has come to rescue her.  Adrian suddenly appears just as Emily tries to drive away and unsuccessfully makes an effort to stop her. Cecilia hides out with her childhood friend, James Lanier (Aldis Hodge), a police detective, and his teenage daughter Sydney Lanier (Storm Reid). Two weeks later, Cecilia and Emily are told by Adrian’s brother, Tom Griffin (Michael Dorman) that Adrian committed suicide and left Cecilia $5 million in his will.

Cecilia is suspicious of the entire suicide but tries to move forward. Mysterious events start to take place, mostly in James’ house, causing Cecilia to become stressed and produce irrational behavior.  There’s an unexplained fire, missing papers for her job interview, and high levels of Diazepam in her system.  Convinced she is right about Adrian not being dead, Cecilia proceeds to prove she is not hallucinating nor crazy.  She arranges a meeting with Tom and insists that Adrian, as a leader in optic science, has found a way to become invisible and fake his death in order to torment her.

The Invisible Man is one of the most brilliant remakes I’ve seen.  There is drama, suspense, horror, science fiction, fantasy and it can definitely be considered a thriller.  Elisabeth Moss is a phenomenal actress and plays every scene to a Tee. If you look closely and are old enough to remember, you’ll see many references to the original Invisible Man, especially the way it ends.  I highly recommend The Invisible Man to all.  As of March 4, 2020, The Invisible Man grossed $55.9 million, worldwide. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 91% of 293 reviews of the film were positive, with an average rating of 7.66/10. The website’s critics consensus reads: “Smart, well-acted, and above all scary, The Invisible Man proves that sometimes, the classic source material for a fresh reboot can be hiding in plain sight.”  Check It Out!

 

THE CALL OF THE WILD (2020) – My rating: 8/10

The Call of the Wild is an adventure film based on the Jack London 1903 novel of the same name and Twentieth Century Pictures’ previous 1935 film adaptation. The film is directed by Chris Sanders, in his live-action directorial debut, written by Michael Green. Set in the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, a dog named Buck is stolen from his home in California and sent to the Yukon, where he befriends an old man and begins a life-altering adventure. The Call of the Wild is a classic, so if you know the story, there’s not much here for you but if you don’t, the story is the bonus.

Once upon a time, during the 19th century Gold Rush, there lived a very Large but gentle St. Bernard/Scotch Collie named Buck, who lived comfortably with his master, Judge Miller (Bradley Whitford), in Santa Clara, California. Being so big, Buck was awkward, clumsy and somewhat of a menace to the township and in his home. One night, Buck is abducted and shipped to the Yukon aboard a freighter. During the voyage, a crew member treated Buck badly, kicking him and preforming other violent acts. After arriving in the Yukon, which is the opposite of California in terms of weather and distance, Buck gives chase to his kidnapper. Despite losing the chase, Buck manages to return a harmonica that was dropped by John Thornton (Harrison Ford), moments before being sold to Perrault (Omar Sy) and his assistant, Françoise (Cara Gee). The new owners use a dog sled to deliver mail across the Yukon. Perrault hopes to make the long trek to the mail depot before the deadline. For the first time, Buck is introduced to snow and the other dogs in the pack, including the vicious pack leader, a Husky named Spitz. Throughout their travels, Buck gains the loyalty and trust of Françoise and the other sled dogs, which antagonizes Spitz. This is not the last ower Buck will have, sadly the next owner will be the worse. Buck’s adventures are exciting and sometimes quite emotional. You’ll have to see the movie to get the rest of the story, as it is a good one.

I thought The Call of the Wild was a wonderful story except for the CGI dog, I loved the movie. When I think of how much effort the Lion King team put into creating the movement of each animal so that they appeared as realistic as they possibly could, The Call of the Wild showed that the same effort was not used to make the character of Buck. His movements were weird and unnatural at best! I couldn’t stop thinking that this dog is not real, which spoiled the movie for me. I think it may have been better for Buck to speak for himself instead of being narrated by Harrison Ford. CGI technology ruined this movie for me. Actually, they could have used a well-trained dog for most of the movie, as the only reason I could think of using CGI would be the fighting scenes.

As of February 27, 2020, The Call of the Wild has grossed $32.7 million in the United States and Canada, and $16 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $48.6 million. Due to its high production and marketing costs, the film is projected to lose the studio around $100 million. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 61% based on 161 reviews, with an average rating of 6.03/10. The website’s critics consensus reads: “It’s undermined by distracting and unnecessary CGI, but this heartwarming Call of the Wild remains a classic story, affectionately retold.” Check It Out!

 

JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL (2019) – My rating: 7/10

Jumanji: The Next Level is a fantasy adventure comedy directed by Jake Kasdan, and co-written by Kasdan, Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg. It is the sequel to 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and the second follow-up to 1995’s Jumanji, and is the fourth installment in the Jumanji franchise. The film’s plot takes place three years after Welcome to the Jungle, in which the same group of teenagers, along with an old friend and two unwitting additions, become trapped in Jumanji, where they all find themselves facing new problems and challenges with both old and new avatars, while also having to save the land from a new villain in order to escape. I waited to see this sequel because I didn’t think it would be very good. The film leaned more toward being good than bad.

It’s now 2019, two years after their adventure in Jumanji. Spencer Gilpin (Alex Wolff), Anthony “Fridge” Johnson (Ser’Darius Blain), Martha Kaply (Morgan Turner), and Bethany Walker (Madison Iseman) are leading different lives but plan a reunion brunch in Brantford, New Hampshire.  Due to depression, Spencer is apprehensive about the meeting and contemplates returning to Jumanji where he felt he had a reason for being. He ends up blowing off the brunch and spends his first night trying to fix the broken video-game system he held on to. The following day Spencer’s friends visited his home and met his grandfather Eddie (Danny De Vito), who is recovering from hip surgery. They also met Eddie’s former friend and business partner, Milo Walker (Danny Glover), who was visiting Eddie for some unknown reason. Learning they had no idea where Spencer was, the group searched the house and found the Jumanji game partially repaired in the basement. Realizing Spencer returned to the game, his friends decide to follow.  So the fun began, starting with a faulty device, which complicated things right from the start.

Jumanji: The Next Level is as entertaining as it’s predecessor with a slightly more complex plot.  Personally, I favor Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle a little more but I was still entertained and enjoyed the movie.  Overall, I thought everyone did a fantastic job of portraying their characters, which got a little tricky. However,  in the end, “all’s well that ends well”.  As of February 23, 2020, Jumanji: The Next Level has grossed $784 million worldwide against a $125 million budget, becoming the tenth highest-grossing film of 2019. The film received generally positive reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 71% based on 221 reviews with an average rating of 6/10. The website’s critics consensus reads: “Like many classic games, Jumanji: The Next Level retains core components of what came before while adding enough fresh bits to keep things playable.” Dwayne Johnson revealed in a December 2019 interview that another character in the world of Jumanji is an actual avatar, the villainous Jurgen the Brutal and that it would be explored in a potential sequel, which is currently in development. I recommend Jumanji: The Next Level to all — Check It Out!

 

BIRDS OF PREY: (2020) – My rating: 8.5/10

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is a superhero film based on the DC Comics team, Birds of Prey. It is the eighth film in the DC Extended Universe, and a follow-up to Suicide Squad (2016). It is directed by Cathy Yan and written by Christina Hodson. The film follows Harley Quinn as she joins forces with three powerful females to save Cassandra Cain from Gotham City crime lord, Black Mask.  Good action hero movie!

Former psychiatrist, Suicide Squad member, and girlfriend of the Joker,  Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), is determined to redefine her life.  With no place to live, she is rescued by Doc (Dana Lee), the elderly owner of a Chinese restaurant. Still recovering from her abusive relationship, Harley cuts her hair and adopts a spotted hyena, who she names after Bruce Wayne, takes up roller derby, and blows up the Ace Chemicals plant where she once pledged herself to the Joker.

After visiting a nightclub owned by gangster Roman Sionis/Black Mask (Ewan McGregor), Harley cripples Roman’s driver and meets burlesque singer Dinah Lance/The Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), a vigilante with the metahuman ability of hypersonic screams. Later, Dinah rescues an intoxicated Harley from an attempted abduction by Roman’s goons. Impressed when he sees Dinah’s fighting skills, he appoints her as his new driver. In the meanwhile, GCPD Detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) investigates a series of mob killings carried out by a crossbow-wielding vigilante named Helena Bertinelli/The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a vigilante who is the orphaned daughter of gangster Franco Bertinelli. Detective Montoya discovers Harley isn’t safe without the Joker’s protection.  Sweetening the pot, Roman is pursuing a diamond necklace that is worth a fortune — he sends his sadistic right-hand-man Victor Zsaszand (Chris Messina), who retrieves the diamond but falls victim to pick-pocket and professional street thief, Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), who doesn’t know the value of what she has stolen.  This is why these four powerful women (Black Canary, The Huntress, Detective Montoya, and Harley Quinn) joined forces to protect this young thief (Cassandra) from Roman and his thugs.

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn has turned out to be a good solid action hero movie.  I’m sure this version of Quinn’s recovery will be followed up with some other movie where she seeks revenge on the Joker for all the wrong he inflicted on her.  This movie reveals Quinn’s deliverance from dependence to freedom in her own right.  I loved that she recited over and over that she is smart, has a Ph.D., and is crazy enough to protect herself without help from anyone.  My only criticism is the winks she wore throughout the entire movie.  She just doesn’t have the shape for the outfit.  I hope they do better choosing her wardrobe next time around.  I’m just saying.  I found Birds of Prey… to be fun, entertaining and a refreshing idea of powerfull women taking charge.  I recommend Birds of Prey to superhero lovers and then some. The film has grossed $48.5 million in the United States and Canada, and $112.2 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $160.7 million.  Birds of Prey has also received praise from critics for its visual style, Yan’s direction, and the performances of Robbie and McGregor, but criticism for the screenplay. I also urge viewers to beware of the “R” rating the film received, I can’t figure why but I’m sure there’s probably a good reason! Check It Out!

 

JUST MERCY (2019) – My rating 9.5/10


Just Mercy is a legal drama directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. The film is based on the memoir of the same name and is written by Bryan Stevenson. Just Mercy is the true story of Walter McMillian, who, with the help of young defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, appeals his murder conviction. The film shows the prejudices in the state of Alabama, which suppresses the rights and voices of Black innocent citizens.

In 1989, an idealistic young Harvard law graduate, Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) makes the decision to defend poor Blacks in Alabama hoping to give relief and help to those who cannot afford proper legal representation. He meets with Eva Ansley (Brie Larson) and together they create the Equal Justice Initiative. At the nearby prison, Bryan meets death row inmates, including Walter “Johnny D.” McMillian (Jamie Foxx), an African-American man convicted of murdering a White woman named Ronda Morrison. Bryan looks over the evidence in the case and discovers it hinges entirely on the testimony of convicted felon, Ralph Myers (Tim Blake Nelson), who provided a highly self-contradictory testimony in exchange for a lighter sentence in his own pending trial. Bryan’s first move is to consult with prosecutor Tommy Chapman (Rafe Spall) for assistance but Chapman dismisses him without even looking at his notes. AND SO THE PREJUDICES BEGINS!

Just Mercy can cause you to get pretty angry just listening to the lies and watching the smug looks of satisfaction on the faces of bigots when they are executing power and victory over their victims. Because Just Mercy is a true story, it made it harder to digest the horrific injustices throughout the movie. Overall, the film was well done and well-acted. The sad part is these kinds of injustices are continuing to plague poor communities of color. Racism is such a waste of time as well shown in Just Mercy. You will be adversely moved and saddened but also feel a sense of exoneration because of the outcome. I recommend Just Mercy to everyone, it shows the other side of evil. The film received positive reviews from critics, as well as a nomination for Jamie Foxx for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role at the 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards. Additionally, Just Mercy grossed $35,191,640 domestically and $44,841,640 worldwide. The review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, reported that 84% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 211 reviews, with an average rating of 6.99/10. The site’s critics consensus reads: “Just Mercy dramatizes a real-life injustice with solid performances, a steady directorial hand, and enough urgency to overcome a certain degree of earnest advocacy.” Check It Out!

BAD BOYS FOR LIFE (2020) – My rating: 8/10

Bad Boys for Life is an action-comedy. The film was directed by Adil & Bilall, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Smith, and Doug Belgrad. It is the sequel to Bad Boys II (2003) in the Bad Boys franchise. The film follows the Bad Boy detectives reuniting once again when someone starts murdering people involved in an old case.

When the widow, Isabel Aretas (Kate del Castillo) of deceased drug cartel kingpin, Benito is broken out of a Mexican prison, officials from police officers to judges are being murdered.  Meanwhile, Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) accompanies his partner Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) to see his newborn grandson at a local hospital. There, Marcus informs Mike he intends to retire, as he is getting too old for the job and wants to share in his grandson’s raring.  A party is thrown celebrating the newborn (also named Marcus) after which Mike is shot by Isabel’s son, Armando Aretas (Jacob Scipio). Mike goes into a coma for several months.  Upon Mike’s recovery, he is out for revenge and unsuccessfully tries to talk Marcus, (who has already retired) into unretiring to form their bad boy’s team one last time.

The film is totally unbelievable and full of Smith’s infamous, egotistical outbursts.  There are lots of funny lines and lots of funny scenes.  Older folks are known for calling a spade a spade, which Lawrence does throughout the movie.  Lines like “Ride Together, Die Together, Bad Boys for Life” or “We’re not just black, we’re cops too. We’ll pull ourselves over later” and “I’m married. That’s what married means. It means you sleep together, but you can’t get none”, are what makes his character so loveable, yet so annoying.  There are significant chase scenes as well as special effects. I enjoyed the movie and was well entertained.  There are some surprises and I hear there’s going to be a fourth sequel.  If I’m right, there’s going to be a big surprise as to who might take Lawrence’s place.  We’ll just have to wait and see. The film received mostly positive reviews from critics. The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 76% based on 238 reviews and an average rating of 6.21/10. The website’s critics consensus reads: “Loaded up with action and a double helping of leading-man charisma, Bad Boys for Life reinvigorates this long-dormant franchise by playing squarely to its strengths.”  As of February 13, 2020, Bad Boys for Life has grossed $170 million in the United States and Canada, and $170.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $340.3 million, against a production budget of $90 million. It is both the highest-grossing film in the Bad Boys franchise and the highest-grossing film released in January. I think you will enjoy Bad Boys for Life — Check It Out!

 

THE GENTLEMEN (2019) – My rating: 9/10

The Gentlemen is an action comedy film written and directed by Guy Ritchie, from a story by Ivan Atkinson, Marn Davies, and Ritchie. It follows an American marijuana kingpin in England who is looking to sell his business, setting off a chain of blackmail and schemes to undermine him. Having little knowledge about The Gentlemen, I was pleasantly surprised.

When Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), an infamous cannabis baron, who is a grower and dealer of marijuana decides he has had enough of the illegal drug profession, the word goes out that he wants to sell his lucrative business.  Several interested buyers compete for the sale. A private investigator Fletcher (Hugh Grant) is hired by Big Dave (Eddie Marsan) to investigate Pearson’s links to Lord Pressfield (Samuel West), a minor Royal with a heroin-addicted daughter. Fletcher offers to sell his findings (typed up as a screenplay entitled Bush) to Pearson’s right-hand man Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) for £20 million. Born in poverty in the US, Pearson won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, where he began selling marijuana to privileged fellow students before dropping out and building up his criminal enterprise by violence. Big Dave has decided to sell his business to American billionaire Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong) for $400 million so he can retire peacefully with his wife Rosalind (Michelle Dockery).  Pearson is later approached by Dry Eye (Henry Golding), an underboss for Chinese gangster Lord George (Tom Wu) who offers to buy out Pearson’s business, but he refuses. When one of Mickey’s labs is raided by some unprofessional young adults, it is discovered that the crew belongs to Coach (Colin Farrell) who is very apologetic.  Good luck with trying to figure this one out, there’s much more to come.

As you can see, there are several players in The Gentlemen.  As Flecher spins his script to Raymond, you can see how complicated each player’s maneuvers make this an intriguing film.  I thought The Gentlemen was cleverly written and reminded me of several movies that were based on a similar premise, e.g. Knives Out, Parasite, and Uncut Gems.  This movie is fast-moving and will require your full attention in order to keep up. You will have to see The Gentlemen in its entirety as you won’t be able to solve this one on your own.   I was thoroughly entertained and highly recommend The Gentlemen as a refreshing and different tale of “who’s in charge”. As of February 9, 2020, The Gentlemen has grossed $26.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $33.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $60.4 million. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 73% based on 211 reviews, with an average rating of 6.35/10. Check It Out!