Breathing New Life (and Death)

MIB

What to Watch in the Theater:
Men in Black: International (PG13) is in theaters now. This sequel relocates the franchise to London, and focuses on a new pair of agents. M (Tessa Thompson) is brand new, after dreaming of this job since she was child, and searching for the agency just as long. H (Chris Hemsworth) is a top agent, the golden boy who’s lost his touch. Something is amiss at the MIB and there’s a dangerous new enemy on their tail. This is a fun actioner with plenty of plot twists and fun/weird aliens (especially Kumail Nanjiani as Lawny). No, it’s not J and K, but that’s just fine.
Our rating: 4.33 out of 5

dead

The Dead Don’t Die (R) is in limited release. This is the best kind of comedy zombie movie – packed with stars who know how to pull off this kind of humor. Adam Driver and Bill Murray are the perfect pair, as small-town law enforcement dealing with a zombie apocalypse. There’s gore and weirdness everywhere (a katana-wielding mortician?), but they take it in stride, as they try to figure out what to do next. We laughed out loud many times during this movie, although the rest of the audience didn’t seem to get the deadpan humor. This one won’t be for everyone.
Our rating: 5 out of 5 

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Murder Mystery (PG13) is streaming exclusively on Netflix. This movie reunites Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, as a husband and wife who end up framed for a murder on a yacht headed for Monaco. Nick has been lying to Audrey about his promotion to detective, but his skills are really put to the test, when they finally get their honeymoon after 15 years of marriage. Audrey loves mystery novels, so they put their heads together to try to solve this one, which is reminiscent of Agatha Christies ensemble murders. Characters are of course stereotypical, and the bickering couple is a bit annoying, but it’s a fun journey.
Our rating: 3.83 out of 5

King of Thieves (R) is available on DVD. Starring Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, and other older British actors, this film is based on the true story of a robbery that occurred in England in 2015. It’s interesting to watch their methods and how they pull off an old-school heist. The group splinters mid-caper because they can’t get along, and this part detracted from the story a bit. The pace was a bit slow, and this is definitely NOT an action-packed heist movie.
Our rating: 3.17 out of 5

Plus box office results, movie news, what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray and what’s leaving Netflix.

Fun Stuff: Check out the Men in Black: International prank here.

Dealing with Change Can Be Monstrous

godzilla

What to Watch in the Theater:
Godzilla: King of the Monsters (PG13) is in theaters now. Five years after the events of Godzilla, more Titans are brought back to life by the crypto-zoological organization, Monarch. They are manipulated through the use of sound waves, with various groups of humans trying to gain control and determine the fate of the giant beasts. There are many, but the film primarily focuses on a few, with the monsters getting a lot more screen time than in previous films. The fate of the world depends on the actions of a few humans and some epic battles between the Titans. The backstory of the human characters fittingly takes a back seat here, although there’s still enough to evoke an appropriate emotional response to this thrill ride.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

late

Late Night (R) goes into wide release today. Emma Thompson’s character, Katherine Newbury, has been on top as a late night talk show host for many years. Faced with the possible loss of her show, she and her staff try to revitalize the show and must adjust to their first female writer, a total newbie named Molly, who’s played by Mindy Kaling (who also wrote the film, based on personal experience in the industry). The stoic Katherine has to learn to open up and be human, while Molly learns that her dream job can be a nightmare. It’s not the funniest movie, but the interactions and relationships bring to light some important biases, and there’s a great deal of humor in the way these humans interact as they resist change and ultimately grow.
Our rating: 3.67 out of 5 

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Mirai (PG) is available on DVD. A young boy, struggling to deal with having a new baby sister, finds a magic place in his own home. This enables him to gain new perspectives by meeting some interesting characters and traveling to different times in his family’s life. This anime combines slice of life family interactions with fantastical elements, much like a Miyazaki film. It’s refreshing to have the English dub feature many Asian actors, unlike others that have gone strictly for name recognition in their voice actors.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

I Am Mother (TV14) is streaming exclusively on Netflix. This dystopian film shows a safe haven following the extinction of mankind. Home to thousands of human embryos, this center is outfitted to repopulate the planet, and we follow the upbringing of the first child, named Daughter. She is raised by a droid named Mother, and they happily coexist until a stranger enters their home. Daughter begins to question everything she’s ever known, as the stranger’s story seems to contradict what Mother taught her. Netflix got this one right – great SciFi setting paired with a thought-provoking story.
Our rating: 4.33 out of 5

Plus box office results, movie news, and what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Flashbacks Everywhere, Except Where Pets Are Concerned

darkp

What to Watch in the Theater:
Dark Phoenix (PG13) opens today. The latest (and apparently last) installment in Fox’s X-Men franchise serves as an origin story for Jean Grey. Taking place several years before the very first film, this one features the younger version of the cast, previously seen in later movies featuring the earlier timeline. Confused? Except for some establishing flashbacks to 1973, the bulk of this movie takes place in 1992. The younger X-Men are now teachers, and we see them becoming a cohesive team of superheroes, on call to help America as needed. An accident in space amplifies Jean’s powers, causing her to lose control more often and hurt people she loves (again). But wait! If Jean (Sophie Turner) isn’t have enough inner turmoil, here’s Jessica Chastain as an alien villain, to complicate the plot and provide a reason for an epic fight scene on a speeding train. The story has moments of emotion and action that make the film entertaining enough, but it just doesn’t fit into the franchise well.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

pets2

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (PG) opens today. Everyone’s favorite animated pets return in this sequel, with some new additions of course. We get three separate storylines here. A very stressed-out Max visits a farm with his family. Gidget is charged with protecting his favorite toy while he’s gone, and it falls into the wrong hands. Snowball, as alter ego Captain Snowball, meets a new friend who needs his help rescuing another animal. This movie is funny and charming, and it’s great to see each character’s story arc and how they work together. The new characters, including Tiffany Haddish as Daisy, and Harrison Ford as Rooster, are great additions to the ensemble. This is a great one for the whole family.
Our rating: 4.75 out of 5 

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Chasing Happiness (not rated) is streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime. This is the Jonas Brothers documentary you never knew you needed. Whether you’re a longtime fan, a new fan, or really just never knew about the JoBros, this is an interesting watch. We get to see how they started in showbiz as young kids, and became a singing group. As they revisit their childhood neighborhood, we learn about the important ties that were broken along the way, and how they persevered through many challenges. This film answers many questions about why they stepped back from the spotlight as a group, ultimately breaking up and pursuing their own projects, and why they’ve now chosen to reunite as a band.
Our rating: 4.17 out of 5

Always Be My Maybe (PG13) is streaming exclusively on Netflix. This rom com is a fresh and funny take on the relationship between childhood best friends who lose touch and then rediscover their love for each other as adults. Celebrity chef, Sasha, and small-town band member, Marcus, meet up again as the former is set to open a brand new restaurant in her hometown of San Francisco. The backstory part sweetly sets up this relationship for us, and it’s easy to see why these two must reconnect, even as they’re fighting it along the way. In some ways predictable, it’s still a relatable, comedic movie that will make you smile. The side characters are just as fun as the leads, with Keanu Reeves reminding us that comedy is something he does really well, despite the much darker roles he’s done recently.
Our rating: 4.17 out of 5

Plus box office results, movie news, and what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray.

In honor of the Jonas documentary, Chasing Happiness, check out our blast-from-the-past interview with Frankie Jonas here.

A Lot to Love, in Many Genres

aladdin

What to Watch in the Theater:
Aladdin (PG) is in theaters now. Although some of us aren’t fans of the Disney live action remakes, we found this musical to be a fun re-telling. We were initially concerned about Will Smith stepping into Robin Williams’ shoes as the genie, but he brings his own flavor to the role, without stepping on any toes. Naomi Scott really shines as Jasmine, with the addition of a female empowerment anthem to the soundtrack. Yes, there’s a LOT of CGI here, but it adds rather than detracts, enhancing the Disney magic of it all. In our library, this one can live in harmony with the animated original.
Our rating: 4.67 out of 5

ma

Ma (R) opens today. A grown woman returns to her hometown with her teenaged daughter, who makes new friends pretty quickly. They are happily astonished to find refuge with a woman named Sue Ellen, who buys them alcohol and offers her basement for their parties. Of course, it’s not that simple, as piece by piece we learn the backstory of how the various characters are intertwined. We were intrigued to see Octavia Spencer as a villain, and this film definitely pours on the jump scares, creepiness, and a bit of gore. While the plot unravels in a pretty obvious direction, there are still some surprises.
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5 

rocket

Rocketman (R) opens today. This biopic leans heavily on fantasy to tell the story of Reginald Dwight’s upbringing, and how he became Elton John. There are bound to be comparisons to Bohemian Rhapsody, with overlap in timeframe and management, but there’s no glossing over the sex, drugs & rock’n’roll here – hence the R rating. This is a fun showcase for John’s earlier work, with songs fit in where they are appropriate to the storyline, rather than chronologically. In addition to re-creations of his actual appearances, we get some fantastical production numbers accompanying the biographical info. Taron Egerton really shines, fully embodying the lead superstar role.
Our rating: 4.67 out of 5 

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):

The Perfection (TVMA) is streaming exclusively on Netflix. This is the story of cellist Charlotte, who just wants to make things right after having to pass on her big break to take care of her ailing mother. She inserts herself back into the lives of her former teachers and the prodigy who took her place, Lizzie. Things get pretty twisted from there, including some gross and gory scenes. Plot twists and flashbacks abound, making this movie a compelling and thrilling ride.
Our rating: 4.25 out of 5

Plus box office results, movie news, the latest DVD and Blu-Ray releases, what’s coming to Netflix and Hulu in June, and more.