Monday, May 27, 2019

Weekend Movie Guide

Kaitlin Dever and Beanie Feldstein (r) star in Booksmart

The Perfection - 3½ Stars. Thrilling horror/revenge extravaganza with Allison Williams & Logan Browning as cello prodigies. A worthy companion to "Get Out."

Us - 3½ Stars. Jordan Peele's follow to "Get Out" spins a great jump-out-of-your-seat story with a message.

Apollo 11 - 3½ Stars. New footage of the 1969 Moon voyage, assembled in eye-popping, jaw-dropping style.

Booksmart - 3 1/2 Stars. Pushes the edge of the usual last night in high school formula. Director Olivia Wilde keeps the energy high with a winning young cast.

Pok√©mon Detective Pikachu - 3 Stars. Fans will love this rambunctious live-action comedy, with Ryan Reynolds voicing the furry star. 

The Highwaymen - 3 Stars. Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson play the Texas Rangers who hunt down Bonnie and Clyde. A fascinating twist on the 1967 classic.

Avengers: Endgame - 3 Stars. Fans will love this curtain call for all of the Marvel characters. Casual viewers will leave confused.

Amazing Grace - 3 Stars. Long-awaited footage of Aretha Franklin's 1972 gospel album recording. Simple and powerful.

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum - 3 Stars. Violent as Hell. I tried to resist, but I couldn't. Keanu Reeves as the hitman to end all hitmen.

The Spy Behind Home Plate - 3 Stars. Fascinating documentary on Moe Berg, baseball player turned international spy.

Tolkien - 2½ Stars. Nicholas Hoult as "The Lord of the Rings" writer. Slow, steady, and reverent.

Aladdin - 2 Stars. Will Smith tries hard to recreate Robin Williams' iconic role in this live-action remake of the animated classic. The cartoon was fun: This remake feels like work.

The Hustle - 2 Stars. Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson as mismatched con artists. "Bridesmaids," it ain't.

Shazaam! - 2 Stars. DC Comic origin story bogs down, and gets in the way of the humor of a 14-year-old kid turned superhero.

Dumbo - 2 Stars. Live-action remake of the Disney classic runs long, thanks to too much plot and atmosphere.

Long Shot - 1 Star. Political comedy with Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron starts great, but unravels fast.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

The Perfection Review - 3½ Stars

The best horror flick I've seen since "Get Out," with Allison Williams and Logan Browning as cello prodigies. Nothing is as it seems, in this mind-blowing (Netflix) thriller. Rated R, 3½ stars.
Allison Williams, who earned kudos in "Get Out," returns to the horror genre as a once-promising musician, whose mother's illness ends her career. As "The Perfection" begins, Williams meets Logan Browning, the musician who replaced her as star pupil of taskmaster Steven Weber. They meet at student auditions in Shanghai, where they bond, party and fall into bed. But has Allison engineered this in the name of jealous revenge? Well, not so fast. "The Perfection" presents one set of facts, hits rewind, and comes up with something entirely different. It never goes where you expect, but does deliver the expected thrills, including bodily fluids, dismemberment, psychotic breaks, and a mind-blowing extravaganza of an ending. "The Perfection" is the best horror thriller I've seen, since "Get Out."

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Booksmart Review - 3½ Stars

Booksmart brings new life to the high school coming-of-age story, thanks to a great directorial debut and wonderful lead actresses. Rated R, 3 1/2 stars.
Booksmart takes the standard last night of high school coming-of-age story and sets it on fire. Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein play best friends, the smartest kids in class, who suddenly decide they've missed out on all the fun. So the girls set out the night before graduation to make up for lost time. Olivia Wilde directs (this is her debut) with a sure hand. The cast is irresistible, and the energy level high. "Booksmart" feels like a genuine slice of high school today. The adventures compare favorably to your favorite coming-of-age story, whether it's "Risky Business," "Fast Times," "Clueless" or "Superbad." I can't wait to see what Olivia Wilde directs next. I also can't wait to see Dever and Feldstein in their future films. "Booksmart" is one of those movies that predicts great things for the people involved. Raunchy, but raunch with a heart.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Aladdin Review - 2 Stars

Aladdin - Rated PG, 2 stars. Disney's live-action remake of the 1993 animated classic tries too hard and feels like work.
The new live action "Aladdin" follows the plot of the 1993 cartoon, with a few contemporary additions. Aladdin (Mena Massoud) a petty thief in an Arabian city, meets beautiful princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) and falls in love. But law decrees she must marry a prince. Captured by Jafar, the sultan's ambitious Royal Vizier, Aladdin is sent to the Cave of Wonders to retrieve a magic lamp. One rub and out comes Genie (Will Smith.) Aladdin gets three wishes, and uses his first to become a Prince, the better to win the love of Jasmine. The remake features most of the songs of the original, including "A Whole New World." The soundtrack plays full blast, so as to cram the music down our throats. Will Smith whisks across the screen, trying unsuccessfully to suggest Robin Williams' performance. The actors who play Aladdin and Jasmine are likable. Everyone tries, but they try too hard. The 1993 animated cartoon felt fresh and fun. This live-action remake feels like work.