It has been really nice to screen so many movies over the past few weeks and know that they will actually be seen in theaters. Like many things, most of us have really missed new movies in the theaters. Some still choose to stay home and that’s ok. Thankfully, because of great streaming technology, you have choices for most of the movies coming out. My goal is to give you my picks that are “Mask Worthy Movies” and movies you can stay at home in your stretchy pants at home, I hope you enjoy my January reviews, there are some spoilers, but not many. Cheers
Finally! We have been waiting for this for a while and get ready because Marvel and Disney did not disappoint. Now before you get all excited about seeing two of our favorite MCU characters on the big screen again I want to let you know there are no explosions…yet. There are no “superhero” landings,…yet. This is like nothing we have ever seen Disney, Marvel or the MCU do. I think we can all agree that the chemistry between Wanda and Vision in the MCU was one of our favorite things to watch when it came to relationships. I for one wanted more form Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in the films and I am happy to have this series really show what they can do together as actors. Disney+ now expands on that chemistry with WandaVisoipn. Friday January 15th 2021 2 episodes of this series premier and you are going to immediately want more. At first you may be a little jolted by how different it is. It is like Bewitched, The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror all mixed into one with that MCU magic of course. The first episode is a good set up, but episode two is where it really hooks you. Each episode runs about 30 minutes. I can’t rate the entire series because I have only watched the first two episodes but from what I see so far I give it a Solid B and have no problem tuning in for the rest. This is another great way for families and Marvel nerds to sit around the TV and enjoy great entertainment together. I am excited to see where this is going, oh and keep your eyes peeled for hints to come.
The Marksman (PG-13)
I am probably not the only one that gets both excited but also dismissive when a new Liam Neeson movie is announced. We love his mysterious and debonair characters and after 2020 we all want to see a good action movie on the big screen. Most of the time I can put the story aside for a good action movie. Give me car chases, awesome escape scenes and a man with an accent that saves that day, I’m in! However….this movie did not do it for me. Liam did step away from saving his daughter who is usually kidnapped. He dropped the nice suits for some cowboy jeans and dirt. He plays an old hardened Arizona rancher and ex Marine who lives on the boarder. He has had a ruff time, his wife has dies, he needs money and they one day a mom and a kid show up across the border of his land and the trouble begins. They need to get accross the boarder and out of harms way. Neeson stops them, bad guys come and the mom ends up dead. In all of the commotion Neeson promises the mom that he will get her son to his relatives in America. I have to say it, Meh, pfft. I don’t believe that this man will give up everything get this kid, who he just met, out of harms way. I know not all action movies are believable, in fact some of the best aren’t at all. This movie is slow, way too predictable, has a messy plot, is too long and a Dollar store copy of a Clint Eastwood movie.
Not Mask Worthy!
One Night in Miami (R)
The minute I saw the cast for this film I was excited. Then the story, who was directing, and the trailer followed, and I was out of my mind with excitement. When the screener link finally hit my inbox the week after it hit theatres I needed to get myself back in the right head space. “Val you just need to watch this film and see what you think.” I had to watch it twice, that is my usually ritual. One time for fun and one time to really review it. The fan side of me and history buff really wanted this film to be good. The Film Critic in me wanted it to live up to it’s hype so that more films like this can be made. I originally gave One Night In Miami a prediction grade of a “B” and I stand y that. This movie is a Strong Solid “B”. What you need to know is that is movie is a fictionalized story about an encounter that actually happened. This encounter was between some of the most Iconic men in history, to celebrate on of the biggest nights in sports history. On this night, in 1964, underdog Cassius Clay, soon to be called Muhammad Ali, (Eli Goree), defeats heavy weight champion Sonny Liston at the Miami Convention Hall, Cassius celebrates the event with three of his friends: Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge).
What this film does for me is gives us a look behind the ICON curtain, Pealing back the stories of the heroes we read about and showing us their more vulnerable side. I didn’t even mention yet that this film is the Directorial Debut for Regina King. These heroes are green. They are just setting out on life and discovering what their fight will be and how they want to fight it both individually and together. They are realizing that every action they make has a conscience, sometimes more than one and for more than just them. The casting is quiet poetry. What I mean is, there are no big heavy hitters to distract us from the character, but these performances were spot on. We all know Leslie Odom Jr. from the musical and Disney+ sensation Hamilton, now he play a newly successful Sam Cooke how is just about to elevate his music with a message behind the voice. The Struggle between him and Malcom X played by Kingsley Ben-Adi is a friendship that gets us thinking. These were just young men trying to figure out how to make it, make some kind of difference and not end up dead like some of their other well know friends.
The opening scene with Cassius Clay, played by Eli Goree, gave me goose bumps, To see how closely his moves and personality matched who we all know this great fighter to be was exactly what I needed to see. Then we have football player turned actor Jim Brown, If you don’t know about these relationships before this movie or the play then he may seem like a bit of a misfit for this group. Jim plays a big part at holding these friends together. Regina King does an incredible job taking this stage play opening it up to show more of these men than we ever knew. I enjoyed watching this movie twice and I will probably watch it again. There is just enough reality to this fiction that is added to this story that I had to go back to some history lessons and read up on evens that happened during this time. You can see this movie both in theatre and streaming on Amazon Prime.
It is A Mask Worthy Pick for Me!
Synopsis: On the night of Feb. 25, 1964, in Miami, Cassius Clay joins Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcom X, and they discuss the responsibility of being successful black men during the civil rights movement.
Director: Regina King
Release Date (Theaters): Dec 25, 2020 Limited
Release Date (Streaming):Jan 15, 2021
The Midnight Sky (PG-13)
This movie was a disappointment. I am a fan of Clooney as an actor and a director but he did not make this movie work. There were moments when the exquisite visual experience of the film would help me through, but it was pretty slow, too long, and I think really missed the mark of such a good Idea for a film. Cut 45 minutes out and add some tension and it may be closer to what was intended. I don’t know that you need to rush out and see this movie in theaters but it may be fun for a free movie night at home on Netflix.
Not Mask Worthy!
Synopsis: A lone scientist in the Arctic races to contact a crew of astronauts returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.
Rating: PG-13 (Brief Strong Language|Some Bloody Images)
Director: George Clooney
Release Date (Theaters):Dec 11, 2020 Limited
Release Date (Streaming): Dec 23, 2020
I have always loved the story of Pinocchio and most of us have seen a few different versions. The fantasy work is brought to life by Matteo Garrone and the strange way he touches things. If you are familiar with Roberto Benigni at all, you know he is a full of life actor that brings everything to his roles. This is an Italian made film and there is voice dubbing, but you will get used to it by 8-10 minutes in. It’s an absolutely visually beautiful movie to watch that is a little strange and unpredictable. It takes us through a classic story we already love. This movie would have been closer to an B, but it was a little self indulgent in length and needed a bit more friction.
Not Mask Worthy!
Synopsis: Geppetto’s puppet creation, Pinocchio, magically comes to life with dreams of becoming a real boy. Easily led astray, Pinocchio tumbles from one misadventure to another as he is tricked, kidnapped and chased by bandits through a wonderful world full of imaginative creatures – from the belly of a giant fish, to the Land of Toys and the Field of Miracles.
English dub voice: Antonio Palumbo
Rating: PG-13 (Some Disturbing Images)
Director: Matteo Garrone
Release Date (Theaters):Dec 25, 2020 Wide
A Promising Young Woman (R)
Get ready for a gut punch. The phrase “I felt that” has never been more real than for this film. Carry Mulligan is absolutely hypnotizing in this film. The movie goes back and forth between dark comedy, thriller, and drama, but felt more like a realistic bio of parts of what has been going on for years…. The Me Too movement, people sweeping things under the rug and trying to “save” the wrong person. I love the snarky tone of the film, because I think most of us feel the same. Like, why is this still happening? There is no mistake, this film will keep you on your toes and keep you talking well after the film is over.
If this movie where in theatres it would totally be Mask Worthy!
Synopsis: Nothing in Cassie’s life is what it appears to be — she’s wickedly smart, tantalizingly cunning, and she’s living a secret double life by night. Now, an unexpected encounter is about to give Cassie a chance to right the wrongs from the past.
Rating: R (Sexual Assault|Language Throughout|Drug Use|Some Sexual Material|Strong Violence)
Director: Emerald Fennell
Release Date (Theaters):Dec 25, 2020 Limited
Wonder Woman 1984 (PG-13)
Ok kids, here we are. We have been waiting for this film since we last saw Wonder Woman don the big screen back in 2017. She was strong, phenomenal, and witty. The opening scene of this film is already out on YouTube, the studio put it there. I am not sure if it was to keep the hype going or to reassure audiences they would get a similar product from last time, but it is misleading. The opening scene is great. I loved seeing little Wonder Woman running around and learning who she would become. There is a great life lesson and moral story here about truth and winning fair and being true to yourself, but that all gets lost in the mess that is this movie. When we hit the 80’s part of the film, we can see that they are trying to give us a call back to the WW tv show, but the characters, hair, outfits and bad writing are way too cheesy. Wonder Woman going from saving the world to being a glorified mall cop is pretty unsatisfying. How long has it been on her timeline from the last move to this one, and she is just finding out she has new abilities? She can turn things invisible, that’s one of them and it is not a spoiler because she has done it in the cartoons. But she is just finding this out?! Show us her process of practicing this, that is interesting. Not to mention the special effects and glitches that take you out of the movie on a regular basis. I literally have vomit in my throat having to write this review, this is not the review I wanted to write.
Then we get to Diana Prince and her life at the museum in DC and we meet Kristin Wiig’s character, Barbra Minerva. I have to say it….this character is worse than Halle Berry’s Catwoman! AHHHH I know. Almost the same premise: Sad, unnoticed and smart woman who works, who feels invisible and unappreciated, turns from kind woman to bad cat. As she gets through her transformation her clothes start looking more and more like Real Housewives of Salt Lake City or Chicago and less like a kick butt woman who has something to prove. I mean if I had Kristin’s amazing body I would wear them too, but it is just too much and not in a good way.
Pedro Pascal, this is the part that hurts me the worst. If the only movie I ever saw him in was this one I would never hire him for anything. And it’s not even his fault. What the crap is this character? Sad, Trump-like character who is hungry for power or for being the best and also a sad man who has no Idea who he is or what he wants. It’s so bad. There are so many small stories that go nowhere. So many unexplained things and so many characters who I couldn’t care less about, because we don’t get enough of the right story to care. Finally at the end of the movie, he and his son have the most heartfelt moment and he actually has feelings, and it’s a scene right from the last episode of The Mandalorian. Come on!
Throughout the movie you see glimpses of other storylines: Endgame, Star Wars, Batman, Catwoman and so on. I get you can be inspired, but it is a stew of left overs from the fridge that are a week past expired. You can put it on a pretty dish to make it look good, but if there is no substance, well bad food is bad food. I am a big fan of Wonder Woman but I am not a fan of this film. Yes, there are some moments that made me laugh and say “YES”!, but as a whole this film felt like the 4 writers wrote it during COVID, not meeting with each other at all, only talking through email and one writer kept on forgetting to do their part of the assignment. I really expected more out of these writers and Patty. Sad Face.
Synopsis: Diana Prince lives quietly among mortals in the vibrant, sleek 1980s — an era of excess driven by the pursuit of having it all. Though she’s come into her full powers, she maintains a low profile by curating ancient artifacts, and only performing heroic acts incognito. But soon, Diana will have to muster all of her strength, wisdom and courage as she finds herself squaring off against Maxwell Lord and the Cheetah, a villainess who possesses superhuman strength and agility.
Rating: PG-13 (Violence|Sequences of Action)
Director: Patty Jenkins
Release Date (Theaters):Dec 25, 2020 Wide
Release Date (Streaming):Dec 25, 2020
So you have been holding in all of the feelings during quarantine…well grab your tissues because you’re going to need them. Disney and Pixar have done it again. If you are looking for an original movie with heart, it’s definitely Soul. Jamie Foxx voices a character named Joe. Oh Joe! He is a music teacher, and like most of us this year, feels like his life should have gone a different way. He has an accident and ends up in a different dimension …kind of.. he ends up in the wrong place. But this place leads him on the best path. We have seen it before in movies like Inside Out or Up. The animation is for the kids, but the story hits home with adults to the point of realism in animation. To say that the writing for this film is good would be an understatement. The moments that are created in this movie give us insight and reflection that only a Pixar movie can give. The way the music moves you through the story and the characters keep you wanting more, I want to watch it again right now. I want to sit everyone I know down to watch this film. We need it. It is geared more towards a slightly mature audience but the animation is so whimsical and the dialogue is so fun and witty that kids and adults alike will love watching it together. It is easily one of my top 5 favorite Pixar movies of all time.
Synopsis: Joe is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz — and he’s good. But when he travels to another realm to help someone find their passion, he soon discovers what it means to have soul.
Rating: PG (Some Language|Thematic Elements)
Director: Pete Docter
Release Date (Streaming):Dec 25, 2020
You can hear Val Cameron every week on our Movies That Make Us Podcast and Multiplane Podcast, and Weekday Mornings on B98.7.