What To See With Val: Movies 2021

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Hey my movie loving friends!

You all know that I absolutely love movies. Check out my weekly reviews on movies and TV shows. I grade all movies on an A, B, C,D and F grading system.

I would love to hear your feedback at valerie.cameron@cumulus.com

Reviews by Val Cameron

 

August

The Suicide Squad
R

Don’t let the “The” in the title confuse you, this is a sequel to Suicide Squad. In James Gunn fashion (the director) The title is simple, but the movie is anything but. The original Suicide Squad movie from 2016 was one that DC fans were really looking forward to. There was so much hype leading into the released we were seething for the Dark DC ensemble movie that we, as fans, felt we deserved. However, it was surrounded by many underwhelming other DC movies like Batman Vs Superman and Justice League. It fell victim to a script that got off track by studio heads changing the direction of the movie, many needed scenes with character development left on the cutting room floor and Warner Brothers running around with their heads cut off trying to compete with Deadpool instead of making the movie David Ayer set out to make. Needless to say, I was not a fan of the first Suicide Squad and the thought of another was not very enticing. 

Now here we are in 2021 with James Gunn directing a no holds barred Suicide Squad movie with no interference. He was given full reign to make this movie as successful as The Guardians of The Galaxy movies, which Directed; Avengers End Game and Infinity war,  of which he was an executive producer. No pressure.

Walking into the screening I had absolutely no expectations. Yes, I liked Gunns past films for the most part, but lately DC seems to fall short no matter what cast they are given and who is at the head of the ship. In this version of the film, we have Idris Elba as Bloodsport. He plays a similar character to Will Smith’s character in the original. A criminal father who is estranged from his daughter and flung into the Suicide Squad against his wishes. Luckily Elba got a better script and better director and no one at the studio second guessing the dress they picked out for prom night. Elba does a great job as this reluctant leader of some of the strangest villains from the DC universe. I could watch him as Bloodsport in many other movies to come. 

One of the highlights of the film is Margot Robbie back as Harley Quinn. She had prominent parts in the original movie and her own movie Birds of Prey, but it is her performance in this movie that really shines. She is strong, independent, full of Harley surprises and carries her own. I could not look away when she was on screen and I never got the cringey feeling in my stomach as a female, watching another female on screen, hoping that she would stop because she was embarrassing us. This film gave her the chance to show why Harley should be kept around in the franchise and maybe even leading her own Suicide Squad at some point. 

Similar to the first film, the second film has a great cast of people. Similar to the first, but times 100, don’t get attached to some of the cast; most of them are gone before you get too attached to them. Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Viola Davis, Sylvester Stallone, Peter Capaldi, David Dashmalchain,  Daniela Melchior, Michael Rooker, Pete Davidson and Nathan Fillion are just a few of the highlights. 

The crew that ends up being the final suicide squad in the movie have great rhythm and chemistry with each other. You get attached to them and as the movie moves forward so does the characters relationships with each other. Viola Davis is even more cruel and powerful in this movie and Daniela Melchior is a shining light on screen. Oh, and John Scena was funny, not outstanding but he held his own. 

Now let’s get the unfettered action, violence and mayhem that Gunn sets before us. This is a very very rated R movie. From the language to killing, Gunn just does not hold back. There are thinks in this movie, when it comes to killing someone, that I have not seen in any other movie. Some things are creative and super funny, and some are just downright gross. I do have to give Gunn points for not holding back, after all DC is a dark place to play and these villains are as dark and sometimes as stupid as they come. 

Lastly the cinematography blew me away. As much as I was grossed out, I was also in awe of the creative vantage points we got to experience as an audience. Just like Guardians and Avengers, Gunn knows how to create excitement and how to shoot action while still staying in a “Comicbook” style of storytelling.

So, to my surprise this movie did not suck. I do think some of the shock and awe violence and language was too much for me and the movie could have been tighter in the middle.  Was it Gunns best work, no. Was it his most gutsy superhero/villain movie, yes, I think so. He may have gone a little too far in some places. You will be entertained; you will be shocked and if you are a bird lover you will also be pissed. So much better than the original, his will be an experience that has you go through every emotion and come out of the movie a little out of sorts. 

Grade: B- 

Even In My dreams
PG
A family film with Utah ties. If you are looking for a family film and girls’ night out film this weekend this may be what you should see. Made right here in Utah, you will have fun recognizing locations and people in this movie that you see here in Utah. It is an inspirational movie about a young girl, Sam Bradshaw, who loses her sister and then heads to Nashville to follower her dreams to become a singer. This is as all American family film as you can get. Apple pie and Hallmark channel. You will also recognize Debra, Sam’s manager played by Little House on The Prairie Star Alison Arngrim and she is just as spunky as Nellie was. The movie is a low budget local film, and you can tell. It is endearing and for those that love the inspirational Hallmark feel, it hits the spot. For me it is for a younger, female audience that watches made for tv movies. Not really an across-the-board audience film. It’s a little too clean cut and predictable and at times it’s a little slow and cheesy.
Grade: C+

 

June

Black Widow:
PG-13

 

Grade: B

Summertime:
Rated R
Grade: B

 

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
R
Bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) and hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson) are back for more ridiculous action movie shenanigans! The sequel to The Hitman’s Bodyguard brings actress Salma Hayek front and center. Samuel L. Jackson’s character needs saving and Hayek who plays Sonia Kincaid, wants to help her husband by bringing overly protective bodyguard Michael Bryce back into their lives. Of course, just like the original, things do not go as planned and chaos ensues. This is a fun, adventurous and vulgar movie. We all know that with Samuel L Jackson comes a plethora of swear words, but I think Salma Hayek out does him in this movie. There are surprises in the story and with pop in actors. I don’t think it was as good as the first movie, I do think it was entertaining. Defiantly a lot of laughing out loud. If you don’t mind silliness and bad language, then you will enjoy this movie. In theatres and streaming now.
Grade: B-

Luca
PG
As an Italian, I have been waiting for Disney to make a movie about Italians for a while now. Pixar and Disney bring you to this fun small Italian town not only above the water but below. Filled with fun characters and beautiful surrounding, you are immediately captivated. The story is a mix of The Little Mermaid, Pinocchio and Coco. Where it doesn’t back as much of an emotional punch as other Pixar movies, it does take you on a journey of friendship, curiosity and relationships. As a parent I really connected to the relationship that the main character Luca, played by Jacob Tremblay, had with his mom and dad. As parents we always want to protect our kids, and not knowing when to let them explore and grow is scary for us. When he accidentally makes a new friend, Alburto, he is introduced to a life beyond his small town and can’t help but get caught up. This movie is delightful and full of fun meaningful life lessons, Disney and Pixar Easter Eggs and lots of Pasta and Vespas.  Steaming only on Disney+
Grade B+

Peter Rabbit 2

PG

James Corden and the entire Rabbit crew are back for this second installment of the movie franchise. Like the first movie, they give us an adult base message wrapped up in nice little bunny bow for kids to enjoy. Have you felt like you don’t belong? Like people just don’t understand you? Maybe if you left your neighborhood or small town everything would be better? Most of us have felt that way at some point. Then when we get to the place we think we need to be we look back and try to figure out who we really are. That is this movie in a nut shell, plus a wedding and full on bunny shenanigans. Super cute, family and community oriented and of course mischief by our favorite rabbit.

 

Grade B

 

 

Witnesses 

PG 

There is a new faith-based movie hitting theatres this weekend, Witnesses. This is a story of the three men who witnessed angels and the gold plates containing ancient scriptures for the Church of Jesus Christ and Ladder Day Saints. They take a different approach in this film than from other movies I have seen about Joseph Smith and the church. They show the men involved at their actual ages from the time, they are all in their early 20’s. The filmed in all of the locations these happenings took place, New York, Canada, Massachusetts and Utah. It is a beautify shot film, and the acting is pretty solid. What I enjoyed the most about this film was the “realness”. You see Joseph Smith as a young man making mistakes and laughing with his family. The main men involved, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris showed struggle and it was very human. I am not of the LDS faith and I do feel you can watch this film and get more out of it than a religious movie experience. You do feel and know right away that the film is about religion and a specific story, however it was refreshing to learn and see something I had not seen before. In 250 theatres nation wide.  

Grade: B- 


 

 

Spirit Untamed  

PG 

Spirit Untamed in a Dream Works animated movie made for young kids in for a tame adventure. This is made in a classic animation and storytelling style. Nothing fancy, just a fun ride for kids who like movies about other kids going on an adventure. You won’t see super scary villains, no pyrotechnics and adult humor. It’s about a young girl that has lived a life in a bigger city with her grandpa and aunt who moves to a small town with her dad for the summer. She learns about her mother whom she has never met, meets new friends and stands up for a wild hearted horse named Spirit. To me it has a Barbie style mixed with a little bit of How to Train Your Dragon. You will have no issues having your kids watch this girl power filled movie, however you may get a little bored. In Theatres. 

Grade: B- 

 

 

 

 

The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It 

R 

I have to say right off the bat that I am not a fan of these types of films. In fact this is the first Conjuring movie that I have seen.  That being said this film is full of suspense and intense moments that will make you squirm in your seat and watch from behind your hands. I like to wear a hoodie to movies like this, more security haha. It was a little slow in the beginning but as we get closer to the middle and end of the movie you start seeing that this story is going to end in a very different direction that you would have expected. The Warrens are back (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) dealing with the paranormal, fighting for souls and they realize they may be over their heads with what will be a historical murder case.  The story was a little lacking in some parts but the acting sold most of the movie, mostly by Vera Farmiga. In Theatres and on HBO MAX 

Grade: C+ 

 

 

 

 

May

 

Dream Horse

PG

If you been waiting for a feel-good movie that will uplift you, make you want to cheer, cry and hug your pets? If so, this is the movie for you. Toni Collette plays small-town bartender (Jan) who is looking for a change and to do something most would deem unthinkable. She breeds a racehorse named Dream, and with very little money takes on the big leagues. One of the best things about this movie is that it shows us the warmth of a small-town Welch community. It takes on a personality of its own and gives a different feel to a movie that most of us have seen before. Yes, it is predictable and doesn’t really break and new ground when it comes to “Based on true story” movies about a small-town character that works hard, brings a community together and then achieves something amazing in the end. The relationship between Jan and Dream is special and almost memorizing. It gives most of us who have experienced a stronger relationship with our pets during the pandemic some extra feels and validation. It’s an all-around feel-good movie that you don’t have to think much about. Turn it on, relax and allow yourself to smile for a while. 

Grade: B