Category Archives: Adventure

REVIEW: “THE BAD GUYS” (2022) Dreamworks/Universal

DreamWorks Animation is back with “THE BAD GUYS” movie, based on the beloved children’s book by Aaron Blabey. The film, directed by Pierre Perifel, delivers our favourite book characters  in animation wonderment as they are meticulously animated and modeled. Vibrant visuals and stylistic choice makes this a true feast for your eyes. And doing voice-over justice here are: Sam Rockwell as Mr. Wolf, Marc Maron as  Mr. Snake, Craig Robinson as Mr. Shark, Anthony Ramos as Mr. PiranhaAwkwafina as Ms. Tarantula and lastly, the lovely Zazie Beetz as Gov. Diane Foxington aka The Crimson Paw.

(from left) Wolf (Sam Rockwell), Piranha (Anthony Ramos), Snake (Marc Maron), Tarantula (Awkwafina) and Shark (Craig Robinson) in DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys, directed by Pierre Perifel.

It’s a delightful tale of a crazy gang made up of have been a team of notorious animal criminals that have been together for years, creating havoc around town and feared by all. But when they try to go straight after getting caught at one of their most notorious heists ever attempted where Professor Rupert Marmalade (Richard Ayoade), wins the Dolphin Award for Good Person of the Year, and the Bad Guys set out to steal the trophy. With Police Chief Misty Luggins (Alex Borstein) hot on their heels for a prize arrest, all that can go wrong does and they are caught red-handed. Rupert and Governor Foxington get the gang to undergo a Good Guys transformation to avoid jail time. But trying to fool people into thinking they are now model citizens proves much harder than it seems. That, along with realizing there is a whole new Bad Guy in town, takes us on a whirlwind of a ride.

Now Looney Tunes this is not, as if you’ve ever really sat down and watched those as adults, they have way different themes to you as they did when you watched them as a kid. This film doesn’t have the quick-barbed gags of those toon days, but it does have some decent plot twists that aren’t to hard for the kids to follow, or the adults for that matter. The villains here have hearts of gold, along with being a lot of fun. As an adult you might think the film suffers from a bit of a generic plot, which does knock the film down a few points – but if you have kids, this comes with a high recommendation, and they won’t even notice.  

The animation is stylistic and beautifully done, with maybe only a few quips on editing to speak of, it’s just a good fun time. As well, kids and adults alike will enjoy this one, a true film for the whole family!

Coming to theaters Friday, April 22, 2022 from DreamWorks Animation and Universal – run, don’t walk to get your whole family tickets for this one.

Grade: B

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Cast and Crew review screening: Tuesday, April 12, 2022 ~ courtesy of Universal/DreamWorks Animation

DREAMWORKS ANIMATION/UNIVERSAL “THE BAD GUYS” will be out in theaters Friday, April 22, 2022

REVIEW: “THE NORTHMAN” (2022) Focus Features

As I struggled writing my initial mini-review of this film, at the same time, trying to convey what is to be said about director Robert Eggers upcoming film, “THE NORTHMAN”. The same way I’m struggling to put down in words here in my full review – to talk about this film as a whole.

So many are calling it so many things. With words floating about such as “masterpiece” it’s difficult to come out and say you don’t feel the same way as then there is wrath to face. Almost like the wrath brought down in the Hamlet-like version of a revenge story told here starring Alexander Skarsgård, Anna Taylor-Joy, Nicole Kidman, Bill Skarsgård, Willem Dafoe and yes, even Björk makes an appearance as a Seeress.

Alexander Skarsgård stars as Amleth in director Robert Eggers’ Viking epic THE NORTHMAN, a Focus Features release. Credit: Aidan Monaghan / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC

As it goes, Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård), is a Viking prince that as a young boy, saw his father King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke), murdered and his future crown taken, though he was able to escape before they could get their hands to murder him as well. Amleth then turns around and becomes one of the warriors fighting for the Vikings destroying village, possibly being one of the most berserkers of all the warriors in the group killing endlessly and mindlessly. Once he learns that his Uncle, Fjölnir the Brotherless (Claes Bang), i.e., the one who killed his father, he decides to leave and head off to make point of his childhood promise of “I will avenge you, Father. I will save you, Mother. I will kill you, Fjölnir.” This sends him to a new kingdom where he can come face to face with his Uncle to exact these words of revenge. Even though he is just a measly slave, he is patient in his ways, waiting for the right chance to make this happen, during this time meeting Olga of the Birch Forest (Anna Taylor-Joy), with whom he wants to make a life, but only once his revenge is enacted. Once there, Amleth is in for more than one surprise as while Fjolnir is still ruling over people, it is not the reign one would be expecting him to have. Queen Gudrun (Nicole Kidman), the mother of Amleth, with whom he thought was taken by force, might not be so upset after all. It’s a not a simple story to tell, watch or understand and it skips across years like the flight of the crow it presents in its myths.

The story told of Viking life in Iceland is not a light affair nor is it for the feint of heart. It’s a savage brutal affair full of mud, guts and one can guess glory at the end – if one can call what happens a victory, then by all means do. Raging full with a testosterone score-fest of blood, death and gore not seen since the days of Braveheart, the films fills the screen with toxic masculinity, myths, sorcery, rage, much to much grunting, and oddly, romance. While the film takes turns with itself, taking itself much too seriously at times, and at others the few spoken one liners are delivered so absurdly that the audience laughs, where it’s not meant to do so.

Claes Bang stars as Fjölnir in director Robert Eggers’ Viking epic THE NORTHMAN, a Focus Features release. Credit: Aidan Monaghan / © 2022 Focus Features, LLC

While one can see just by budget alone there was much thought and effort put into this, and some parts work better than others, but it never really comes together as a whole – most especially the last act which slogs it’s way through a sort of poetic refrain that just didn’t fit with the whole slash ‘n gore look of the beginning and the middle.

This movie is definitely an exercise, whether it’s a workout to watch for all whom aim to look like Alexander Skarsgård at the end will be a challenge for some as it was for me. That being said, I think many will attempt the feat and enjoy it much more than myself and how can one not be happy for that..

Grade: D

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Review screening: Friday, April 8, 2022 courtesy of Ginsberg/Libby PR

Focus Features ‘The Northman’ will be out in theaters Friday, April 22, 2022

REVIEW: “THE LOST CITY” (2022) Paramount Pictures

Coming out in theaters this Friday, the 25th is “THE LOST CITY” with Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, taking the leads in this comedy of a shut-away romance book author who gets talked into doing a book tour by her agent Da’Vine Joy Randolph. What ensues is complete hilarity for a good first portion of the film.

Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock), is a successful romance novelist, though she is also grieving the loss of her husband. She reluctantly agrees to do a ‘final’ book tour by her agent Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), as she adds in the books ‘famous’ cover model Adam (Channing Tatum), to the tour much to Beth’s chagrin. As we soon find out, with Loretta and her husbands love of history, she has accidentally wrote in the book on where to find the location of fortune in an ancient burial spot of a notable King and Queen. This brings our villain, Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), out in full force with his team Rafi (Héctor Aníbal), and Julian (Thomas Forbes Johnson), who kidnap Loretta with the thought being, she can lead them to the site.

The first half of the film comes at you fast and hard, with one-liners and features most spectacularly, our two scene stealers. The first is ex-Navy Seal Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt), who is hired by Beth and her social media assistant, giving us our second scene stealer, Allison (Patti Harrison), that will have you laughing your socks off for the first half of the movie. Albeit, in the second half, the laughs slow down drastically as the film gets a lot more serious with attempts at character arcs and story moments, while not bad, they are ones we’ve seen a many times before. Going into full romance novel mode without as much comedy, the second half falls a little flatter than what it was going with.

Directors Aaron and Adam Nee do the smart move here with giving Bullock and Tatum most of the screen time, as their chemistry is undeniable. As well, Tatum doing full nod to ‘Fabio’ cover-boy in the beginning gives us a hoot of fun. Supporting cast does well to keep the pace and relevance with Brad Pitt, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Patti Harrison and Oscar Nuñez getting their fair share of inclusion in this movie to stay relevant to the plot and relationships of the character. I wasn’t in love with Radcliffe who seems a bit out of place as he goes almost too big in his role as villain, when some subtlety might have played better.

Had they stuck with the formula they were going with, this would be a great comedy instead of just a good one. As is, it’s still a load of fun and brings something new to the box office this weekend where it should do well.

Grade: C+

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Review Screening: Tuesday, March 18, 2022 ~Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

“THE LOST CITY” from Paramount Pictures is in theaters Friday March 25, 2022

REVIEW: “TURNING RED” (2022) Pixar/Disney+

Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve been a 13 year old girl, yet here I am reliving it and loving almost every moment of Domee Shi’s new venture which captures that adolescence feeling once again in Pixar’s “TURNING RED”. But this little coming of age story does so much more than just take you back to a place in time of your life, as it reaches across not just cultural boundaries not usually seen, but just what being a young girl that is different is all about, and best of all – letting us all know, it’s okay to be different.

With our throwback setting here being Toronto, Canada in 2002, 13-year-old Meilin Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang) is a girl on a mission. She is a straight-A student with her group of loyal ride-or-die best friends Miriam (Ava Morse), Priya (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), and Abby (Hyein Park), by her side, and all they dream of is going to see the hottest boy band on the planet ‘4*Town’ (Jordan Fisher, Finneas O’Connell, Topher Ngo, Grayson Villanueva, and Josh Levi). A kind of apt name considering there are five of them, but isn’t that part of the fun of loving a boy band? Things like these are not valid to adults, but to 13 year old’s ‘in love’ they make perfect sense. On the other side of her life, the family part, there is a bit of a problem though as she feels held back by her overprotective mother, Ming (Sandra Oh). Mei Mei loves her mom, and while they may seem to enjoy doing the same things, noted in the many photos they take together, along with the job they do of keeping the family temple clean, and most of all, they enjoy dad/husband Jin (Orion Lee) cooking, or should we say eating his cooking! But they are worlds apart from having the same mindset, though only one of them is aware of this.

MOTHER, PLEASE! — Disney and Pixar’s all-new original feature film “Turning Red” will debut exclusively on Disney+ © 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Taking all this into mind, imagine how Mei feels when she discovers she transforms into a giant red panda when she can’t contain her emotions and then finds out that not only her mom has had this happen to her, but her aunties and grandma (Wai Ching Ho), as well. The trick is to control it, but that isn’t as easy as it seems. From here, we are taken on a fun little journey of just what the girls all do to get themselves to see their musical loves. In between the up and down journey is where there are a few slip ups here and there with some adult panda transformation material, that to reveal would give away all the spoiler points of the story. But otherwise the catchy soundtrack that you will be singing for awhile after it ends, will also bring back some fun memories of the early 2000’s as the music is almost a character in and of itself.

WE’VE GOT YOUR (FLUFFY) BACK © 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

There are moments where the discussions that take place that in truth, are refreshing to see and hear as things like this should be done and made more acceptable, instead of girls always having to feel shame at things like starting menstruation and what it all entails. Along with some fun comedic moments, ‘Turning Red’ all in all, is an incredibly cute coming of age story. In a world where girls aren’t afraid to be smart or different any more, along with the cultural influences and point of view that we don’t usually get to see on screen, this is one not to miss on Disney Plus for all ages.

Grade: B-

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Review Screening: Courtesy of Disney

TURNING RED ARRIVES ON MARCH 11, 2022 ON DISNEY+.

Review: “MOONFALL” (2022) Lionsgate

Going into director Roland Emmrich’s latest film “MOONFALL”, I kept an open mind knowing it was going to be a disaster film of some sort, expecting a dumb fun disaster film with some crazy fun set pieces. What I didn’t expect was it to be the complete disaster that it was.

To be noted, I’m not someone who will intentionally trash a film just for the sake of doing so, but this was just plain bad and there is just no way to sugar coat this plain in-your-face fact. If you go into this movie expecting anything other than cheesy acting and a preposterous story the you will be sorely disappointed.

The film’s premise is simple. The moon’s orbit is changing and making it get closer to Earth, raising the question, can Earth survive? Which doesn’t sound to bad as a whole to make a movie about as we’ve seen it before, but hey, who knows, this might be good right?! But instead the film decides is going to try to offer a cerebral and complex backstory to the moon for some reason, along with at the same time mind you, astronauts Brian Harper (Patrick Wilson), and Jocinda Fowl (Halle Berry), facing an alien while on a space mission singing “Africa” by Toto. Oh and let’s not forget the pill-popping conspiracy theorist KC Houseman (John Bradley), who of course has always wanted to be an astronaut trying to get into NASA and magically does exactly that. Then there is the car chase with Harper’s son Sonny (Charlie Plummer), and him getting thrown in jail, all the while, yes again, all at the same time then they have families that are escaping the imminent demise of Earth with tidal waves and all, mind you they are showing actual real disaster footage of tsunamis along with the inevitable CGI. Not even Michael Peña as step dad Tom Lopez, who is usually a spot on actor, can save this from complete mind numbing disaster. But it hasn’t ended, oh no it hasn’t ended, as a ten minute exposition where Harper ‘learns’ that humans actually originated from a halo ring, but then A.I. rose up and took over nanoparticles to kill humans, so the humans made 1000 moons and flew them to different parts of the galaxy. Say what now?

They literally throw the everything but kitchen sink at you including actual footage of the Endeavor space shuttle supposedly being commandeered out of the California Space Museum so it can be flown to the moon to blow up the bad alien that lives in the middle of it. And don’t get me even started on discussing the lacking of any intelligence dialogue along with just flat out bad bad acting by every single person involved in this film, not even Donald Sutherland coming in for a quick two-liner can help here.

John Bradley as KC Houseman in MOONFALL Directed by Roland Emmerich. Photo Credit: Reiner Bajo/Lionsgate

Of course you know never to take these films seriously, but as well, you do want to have some fun while watching, but instead of even laughing at the absurdity of it all, you will instead just be miserable for two hours and I honestly feel I should award myself, and anyone else points just for making it all the way through this one. I don’t think I could say not worth it in any other way but to simply state “Not Worth It.

Grade: D-

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Review Screening: Wednesday, February 2, 2022 ~ Courtesy of Lionsgate and 42West PR

“MOONFALL” hits theaters Friday, February 4, 2022

REVIEW: “THE KING’S MAN” (2021) 20th Century Studios

Having seen this one over a month ago, but not being able to even speak about it till Dec 6th, made me almost forget I’d even seen it. Or maybe that was just a wish that didn’t come true. Having highly enjoyed the original Kingsman: The Secret Service, and even somewhat Kingsman: The Golden Circle – I found myself looking forward to it’s prequel “THE KING’S MAN” as I was looking forward to some high paced fun. Instead for the first 45 minutes of this film I felt like I was in seventh grade history class and we had a substitute teacher who decided to show us a film all about what led up to WWI and who Rasputin really was. And not in a good way, but in an almost odd, campy way.

It starts with father and son, the Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes), the title character, and Conrad (Harris Dickinson), and wanders slowly through the beginnings of their relationship. Fiennes’ Duke of Oxford is at the right hand of King Edward (Tom Hollander) just as WWI is about to break out between England, Germany, headed up by Kaiser Wilhelm, also played by Tom Hollander, and the Czar of Russia, also played by you guessed it, Tom Hollander. Add in Rhys Ifans as Grigori Rasputin, the team of servant spies, including Polly (Gemma Arterton) and Shola (Djimon Hounsou), who are part of the few who can protect the Crown, and Matthew Goode as Morton, the good guy/villain. Add in a lot of camp with it’s first fun, action moment coming in right around the 60 minute mark, where by then three people had walked out of the screening, but Rasputin finally gives us this, and moments where you can actually see Fiennes action double take over, then this is your movie.

Honestly the main issue with The King’s Man is the script. It’s all over the place type jumbled and difficult to keep up with what the plan was because of everyone involved. The first half of this film feels like it’s moving slow because of everything that is being set up. Then, once they get into the actual story, it loses its footing, goes off the rails and tries to get into way to many storylines all at once. It felt like Conrad and the Duke’s relationship played a more important role than saving England from villains. In the end, both narratives end up fizzling out and the film never really creates any emotional connection to the original Kingsmen agency, or even father and son story which it goes into huge depth trying to explain to you in the first hour as well.

It was nice to see the who developed the agency as it at least gave Arterton a strong take in it all, but the story wasn’t executed well enough to make it as enjoyable as the others were. I think it there might be the camp who didn’t like the first two that will enjoy this one, and those that enjoyed the first two more, maybe won’t have the same feelings on this one and share mine. Who knows. But I can credibly say the campy nature of the espionage and the cheesy dialogue did not suit the era at all, which made some moments incredibly awkward and just overall, not my movie.

Grade: D+

‘THE KING’S MAN” is coming to theaters Wednesday, December 22, 2021

REVIEW: “JUNGLE CRUISE” (2021) Disney Studios

I was probably 4 years old when I was first taken to Disneyland. I can’t remember my exact age, but I do know I was very young and my parents took me on the Jungle Cruise ride – and I freaked out and started screaming and crying. Because yes, I thought it was real and I remember so well the big hippo opening his mouth right where I was sitting in the boat and I thought I was going to be eaten, and basically thought lions, tigers and bears were all after me. I cried so hard and was so terrified, that I never went on that ride again until I was a teen – possibly even older! Needless to say, there was no crying watching this version of Disney’s “JUNGLE CRUISE”, only laughter as it is definitely not that ride and a much different story to boot.

This adventure begins with Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt), who hires a wisecracking skipper, named Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson), to take her down the Amazon in his ramshackle boat. Together, they search for an ancient tree whose petals hold the power to heal all — a discovery that will change the future of medicine. Along for the ride Lily’s posh, upper-crest brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall), who doesn’t clearly belong anywhere in a jungle, but succeeds in stealing a lot of his scenes with his over-the-top persnickety ways, most particularly his interactions with Frank’s pet leopard whom they have on board the cruise. The CGI might have been a bit lacking on the leopard, but Whitehall makes it funny so it’s very easy to overlook.

(L-R): Dwayne Johnson as Frank Wolff, Emily Blunt as Lily Houghton and Jack Whitehall as MacGregor Houghton in Disney’s JUNGLE CRUISE. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2021 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

While ‘Jungle Cruise’ could have just been a simple escapade through the jungle with some good action and laughs thrown in, we do get some long drawn out sections with Johnson’s character Frank explaining a bit of a convoluted backstory of the special flower, and the enhanced version of the long dead enchanted conquistadors of his time. Kids especially, might get a bit lost here as let’s face it, they just want the lions, tigers and fun action aspects of his character that help endear Frank to us more. Director Jaume Collet-Serra gives us a big scale action adventure here with plenty of laughs thanks to Johnson giving us some of his best cheesy humour with one-liner awful, terrible jokes that are so bad they are absolutely downright funny. It’s perfectly done and no one in this film takes it all to seriously and that is possibly it’s biggest highlight except for the fact that the biggest thing that upstages them is the absolute wonderful, electric chemistry between Blunt and Johnson. This would have been a totally different movie without that as together they are an unbeatable team here and yes, the glue that holds this film together. But the supporting cast consisting of Jesse Plemons, and again, Jack Whitehall with his witty-ness, Edgar Ramirez, and Paul Giamatti, all add to the adventure as well and round it all up.

So my advice is no crying – and get your ticket for the fantastical journey that is – Jungle Cruise.

Grade: B-

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Review Screening: Monday, July 26, 2021 at El Capitan Theater ~ Courtesy of Disney Studios

“JUNGLE CRUISE” IS IN THEATERS AS OF FRIDAY, JULY 30, 2021 also VOD on Disney+

REVIEW: “THE BOSS BABY: FAMILY BUSINESS” (2021) DreamWorks

The Baby’s are back and bossing us around again this time with director Tom McGrath’s take in “THE BOSS BABY: FAMILY BUSINESS”.

There are few things more certain in this world than sequels, no matter how old the character gets and The latest Boss Baby adventure is no exception to this rule. And get this, the Boss Baby isn’t a baby anymore though not to worry, what would the story be if he didn’t become a baby again, but it’s all in good fun.

Family Business has the Templeton brothers, Tim (James Marsden/Jimmy Kimmel) and his former Boss Baby little bro Ted (Alec Baldwin), as adults with Tim now married to Carol (Eva Longoria). Tim is now a stay-at-home dad raising his two daughters, Tabitha (Ariana Greenblatt), and baby daughter Tina (Amy Sedaris) who, based on the ending of the last one, is a ‘Baby Boss’ as well. Ted, to no ones surprise, is a hedge fund CEO. The two have drifted apart from each other and rarely even speak. But infant Tina decides she must reunite the brothers and turn them back into their younger selves to infiltrate Tabitha’s school which is being ran by Dr. Edwin Armstrong (Jeff Goldblum), who is definitely up to no good. The only way to do this ‘Benjamin Button’ transformation back into babies is quite fun – as it’s all done through a baby formula that only lasts for just 48 ‘teensy weensie’ hours. Tim takes it upon himself to come along and the two brothers wrestle for the formula, getting younger and younger.

The Boss Baby has a lot going on within it. There is the witty banter and sibling relationship issues between the two brothers which can be very fun at times especially when they are back to being their younger selves; There is Precious a pretty pony, a classmate identified only as “Creepy Girl”; there are baby ninjas, and lastly, a tiny toy Wizard named Wizzie (James McGrath), that comes to life. All this goes on while the school putting on a pageant in which Tabitha is terrified of doing a solo performance and Dr. Armstrong is plotting his world-parent takeover. But this movie isn’t just about brothers Ted and Tim. It is also about Tina and Tabitha, and the pressures of school and finding a balance for family, school and life, and not wanting the feeling of disappointing anyone, including ourselves or family.

A bit long in runtime at an hour and 47 minutes with young kids who might get antsy can happen. While it also might just tick off the boxes when it comes to actual points of The Boss Baby itself, it’s truly sweet moments with the young daughters and brothers bonding that make it worth the watch for families.

C+

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Review Screening: Monday, June 28, 2021 ~ Courtesy of DreamWorks Animation & Universal Pictures

“THE BOSS BABY: FAMILY BUSINESS” IS IN THEATERS AND STREAMING ON PEACOCK AS OF FRIDAY, JULY 2, 2021

Review: “WITHOUT REMORSE” (2021) Amazon Studios

Based on the Jack Ryan universe created by spy novelist extraordinaire Tom Clancy, “WITHOUT REMORSE” focuses on one of the most popular characters in the saga: John Kelly aka the future John Clark, as he gets his own origin story here from writers Taylor Sheridan and Will Staples, directed by Stefano Sollima.

The films opens with a big action soaked scene of a hostage rescue in Aleppo, Syria, with Senior Chief John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan,) as part of a Navy Seal team, on what is clearly supposed to be a easy in and out hostage rescue. But of course it doesn’t go as planned and the recourse of what happens here, ends up changing John Kelly’s life forever. Fast forward after the attack gone wrong, John finds himself back at home in Washington D.C. happily awaiting the birth of his first child with his wife Pam (Lauren London), when they are attacked, leaving him badly wounded, while Pam and his unborn child are killed.

The attack, by a team of Russian assassins is payback and now John wants revenge, but the bureaucratic response from the higher ups at the Department of Defense and CIA agent Robert Ritter (Jamie Bell), gives it a no go. In steps Secretary of Defense Thomas Clay (Guy Pearce), who seems willing to blur the lines somewhat given what John has gone through, and we have the greenlight for John to be part of the team to go in to this time capture ex-Spetznaz agent Victor Rykov (Brett Gelman), although not without some hesitancy from his Commander and friend Karen Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith). All the while, this has been more John seeking justice for the murder of his pregnant wife, but it seems while wanting to do so, he has uncovered what is truly at hand, a covert plot that threatens to engulf the United States and Russia in an all-out war. Of course, things go once again upside down and the rest of the film turns into more of a personal payback mission for John.

The film, which also already has a second part on the way ~ courtesy of a mid-credits scene – updates and changes drastically not only the origin of the character, but the original plot of the story as well, which ends up giving us the feeling like it’s been seen a thousand times before. Not only because he is a military man who seeks revenge for the murder of his family, but also because he rekindles that been there – done that – conflict between the United States and Russia. While the hunt for the Russians keeps throwing our hero into explosive situations, ultimately revealing who the real villain is (to no one’s surprise) is part of the predictability process that is so very well….predictable. It’s the kind of tedious thriller where you spot the villain instantaneously, and realize who the backstabber is without even trying to. The one high point of it all for those who follow this character in Clancy novels, is this is also the telling of how John Kelly became John Clark and it’s moments like that that give it the much needed elevation we all wanted. Sadly, it’s brief, but boy can it be taken from here and really have something special come out of it, well we will have to just wait and see, as the action was decent and well as the acting.

On it’s good side, Jordan is a born action star and if this film is a hit, and future scripts possibly revamped, it could be a major franchise. Jodie Turner-Smith does well enough and all this flack that a woman can’t be a SEAL is just silly. It has been great seeing Guy Pearce come back to the big screen as well, he played his part perfectly, and look forward to having more of him in the future. The true error in all this is the book would have been ideal as an 8 part mini series. There is so much to explore and it could have set up a whole Clark universe with new stories being set in the 80’s, 90’s and beyond, you can’t help but think. So. Much. Potential.

C-

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Review Screening: Courtesy of ~ Ginsberg/Libby PR

“WITHOUT REMORSE” is available on Amazon Prime Friday, April 30, 2021

REVIEW: “NEWS OF THE WORLD” (2020) Universal Pictures

Adapting a beloved book can be a tricky thing and Paulette Jiles“NEWS OF THE WORLD” is no different a challenge to that here. But if we have learned one thing from films all these years, it would be that Tom Hanks would be the one who would be able to pull this off and make it along with Director Paul Greengrass, taking full advantage of our faith in Hanks acting abilities here.

In this visually phenomenal film version Tom Hanks is Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, a Civil War veteran who takes newspapers and then travels from one small town to another and for 10-cents admission and a sense of panache’- Kidd reads the news stories to weary people looking for a distraction. While traveling one day, he comes across a blonde hair-blue eyed young girl dressed in Native American wear who speaks no English, only Kiowa. With her caretaker having been lynched in front of her, the papers Kidd finds among her things are notes that she is 10-year-old Johanna (Helena Zengel), a young girl who’d been raised by Kiowa tribe and is now being returned against her will to her natural German aunt and uncle of whom she knows nothing about.

The film is all about the journey, which the captain undertakes with the girl reluctantly as the she rebels against this so hard at first, his conundrum is realizing the only guarantee of her safe return is if he takes her, and reluctantly we watch as the Captain agrees to accompany her on the journey home. In the long run it bares down to essentially being: two people, a wagon and two horses, driving through the vast nothingness. And as the two encounter numerous precarious situations along the way they begin to bond with each attempting to learn the others ways and language. Along the harrowing journey, encountering moments of true danger in almost each town they enter and every new territorial line they cross. Early on when they are cornered by a trio of swarthy men who want to ‘buy’ the girl, the tense build up that prevails and follows us throughout the journey can be dramatic and even terrifying at times, but eventually this is what will bring them together the closer as they come to the end of the journey and the pointed note of separating.

Zengel doesn’t say much throughout the film, but she has a wonderfully expressive face that speaks volumes with her eyes and it’s easy to believe that she has seen horrors. And even though this undoubtedly adds to Hanks’ performance, even as she’s saying nothing, her pain, her fear is palpable and Hanks plays well on this attribute. But make no mistake whose film this is – as the way Hanks portrays Kidd is the sort of performance that just seems written in stone for him and it’s a perfect vehicle for him and surprising in sorts to see him in a Western. There are numerous supporting cast who also help push the film along with Elizabeth Marvel, Mare Winningham, Ray McKinnon and Bill Camp to name a few. The movie itself is stirring despite there being no surprise in knowing where the story is headed once Johanna appears – and yes there are some grim sequences but overall its quite an enjoyable watch.

Grade: B+

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Review screening: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

“NEWS OF THE WORLD” IS OUT ON CHRISTMAS DAY IN THEATERS/DRIVE-INS WHERE AVAILABLE AND ON NETFLIX IN JANUARY 2021