REVIEW: “GREENLAND” (2020) STX Films

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Gerard Butler is back in action mode in “GREENLAND” and me going in with a certain amount of skepticism on this one isn’t going to shock anyone. Surprisingly enough, considering the last years of his career haven’t given us the best of films, here Butler gives us some of his best action acting in years as “Greenland” is quite an entertaining motion picture for the most part.

The movie begins with John Garrity (Gerard Butler) a Scottish-born structural engineer visiting his estranged wife Allison (Morena Baccarin), and their son Nathan (Roger Dale Floyd). John and Allison are separated but working towards a reconciliation. Nathan is fascinated by the stars and the comet nicknamed ‘Clark’ that is shooting ‘small particles’ towards earth and the story being told across the news is there will be no major disaster effect from the comet. While getting ready for a festive neighborhood gathering the Garrity’s have a room full of friends over, when a presidential alert appears on their TV and phone telling them to pack some bags and drive to a close by airfield. This is when the film kicks it up a major notch in the tension as things start to go awry immediately with not only the neighbors, but the whole question of why they were picked. Even the drive to the airfield is building up to something we aren’t sure of but as they are ushered in and just before they are about to board the plane the separation plot kicks in and admittedly it’s not as silly as one might think as it’s actually told very logically why.

Now this might sound like your typical disaster movie but trust me it’s not quite. “Greenland” is smart in how it handles it’s characters and the plot is not always straight forward. The movie tries less to create tension with the looming disaster but rather does so through the human element and the different characters the family members meet on their way. From the seemingly ‘helpful’ couple Ralph (David Denman) and Judy (Hope Davis), to Colin (Andrew Bachelor) they both encounter a number of harrowing experiences in order to hopefully meet up again at Grandpa Dale’s (Scott Glenn) house. The whole separation journey to find each other again is wrought with a great edge of your seat tension as we get to experience what each of the family members do and would do in order to be together again. As well, even when they’re separated, the Garrity’s stay the focus of the movie even as they meet both the good and the bad in the people they meet along the way.

Unfortunately the second half of the film seems as it was unprepared for what it was supposed to become after the excitement of the first half. The tension level drops to low digits and it just never picks back up again. CGI takes over and it loses it’s edge it created for us in the first hour. Acting wise again, Butler gives us a his best effort in a long time, and Baccarin is good. The supporting characters they all met on the journey were all very well done, my only iffy is with child actor Floyd who just doesn’t seem to change the dramatic expression on his face for a good half of the film which at points of seriousness, gave to moments of giggles.

Though it’s definitely a worthwhile entertaining watch, ‘Greenland’ is a raw, tension-filmed disaster film that showcases both the noble and dark sides of human nature, when disaster strikes and ultimately doesn’t come together with it’s two halves, into a completely satisfying package.

Grade: C+

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Review screening: Courtesy oSTX FILMS

“GREENLAND” IS NOW AVAILABLE IN THEATERS WHERE AVAILABLE AND ON VOD

REVIEW: “ANGEL HAS FALLEN” (2019) Lionsgate

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First Olympus fell, then London, and now we have the third in the ‘has fallen’ series with “ANGEL HAS FALLEN”.  First wave of thought – did we need really need another?  Apparently so, though don’t hold your breath for something completely different than the first two as this one certainly isn’t going to raise that bar any.

Naturally as with all films in this series, this one starts with our man Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) in a violent body crashing, training session with his buddy Wade Jennings (Danny Huston).  Changing up the beat a bit from the first two films to the tune of making Banning seem less superhero here by adding a bit of humility to his character, as during the session we see a pill-popping Banning seemingly having a lot of issues with blacking out, suffering migraines etc., from previous acquired concussions and thinking of taking a more desk type position.  As it turns out, his buddy Jennings is actually serving under Vice President Kirby (Tim Blake Nelson) to plot a mutiny against new President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), by framing Banning and spoiler alert –  they give us the audience, this pertinent fact quite early on basically taking away any mystery about the movie at all.  As a full scale drone attack ensues when Banning is supervised to watch over the President while on a fishing trip, and the entire detail is killed minus Banning, who is subsequently arrested by FBI Agent Helen Thompson (Jada Pinkett-Smith).  Trumbull has slipped into a coma during said attack and VP Kirby comes into play by trying to start a war with Russia whom he is pretending to place all the blame on.

While all this plays out during the attack gone wrong on the President, Banning becomes the most wanted man in the country as to the surprise of possibly no one ever, he escapes and goes on the run out in the middle of nowhere West Virginia.  But just when you think he won’t be able to clear his good name and get out of this mess, he leaves a message in a truck for a man, whom turns out to be (again to the surprise of no one) his father Clay Banning (Nick Nolte), who left him years ago and has been living off the grid in these exact mountains!! Wow.. how convenient you say. But actually, this is where the film starts ramping up.  Nolte is a splendor to watch here as he steals many of the scenes in which he’s in and provides the only real wild card comic relief and action to the film.  As in possibly the best set piece of the entire film is when they are at the point of being found, and Clay it turns out, has had his entire cabin compound rigged to blow.  It’s a fun, fantastic portion of the film that definitely livens it up.  He also goes on to have some rewarding scenes with Banning’s wife Leah (Piper Perabo), when meeting her and his grandchild for the first time as well

Despite all this, the whole time the audience well knows what’s going to happen next as the predictability factor of this film is off the charts, even without all the help provided by director Ric Roman Waugh.  Seriously, everything from the set up of Banning to the who is setting him up, to when the President will realize what is happening and put the kibosh on it.  This is what really lets film and the whole plot/story down, as had this reveal been kept secret say until the 3rd act of the film instead of the way-to-early-reveal, took away any tension points the film might have had going for it. Instead of keeping the audience engaged and on the edge of their seat wondering who did what, they give it all away and that is why the story and film fail to deliver.

Grade: C-

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Media Review Screening: Monday, August 19, 2019 ~ Courtesy of Lionsgate

“ANGEL HAS FALLEN” HITS THEATERS THIS FRIDAY, AUGUST 23, 2019

INSTA-REVIEW: “HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD” (2019) Universal

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Four and a half years since we last saw our dragons, they are back in #HowToTrainYourDragon : The Hidden World.  In this one we have little older and wiser Hiccup (JayBaruchel)and he is still leading the effort to save dragons with Astrid AmericaFerrera. Yet not everything is golden as new villain Grimmel the Grisley FMurrayAbraham is out to get them. In between we have a little love affair brewing between #Toothless and new white-scaled dragon #LightFury .

While all of it is fun and it’s a beautifully done film and the Dragons franchise are some of the best animated films ever – it does come up a bit short at achieving the highs of its predecessors.

There is a little lack of the emotional punch in comparison to the first two. And while it might not shine as bright as the two previous works, the few shortcomings the story line has, they don’t overshadow the charm the characters and story bring you.

Grade: B-

@pegsatthemovies

 

Media Review Screening: Tuesday, February 19, 2019 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures

 

+++#peggyatthemovies.com ~ REVIEW OF “HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2″+++

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There are times when I love going to see a good animated movie, and sometimes not.  I didn’t have that ‘not’ problem here with “How to Train Your Dragon 2” because I had taken my nephew 5 years ago to see the first one and had enjoyed it.  As with a lot of animated movies..they say they are for kids, and this one definitely is, but they always have a bit of an adult element to them also. And most of the time also a message.. again. also done here. 

This second chapter of the trilogy of the “HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON” franchise, take us back to the mystical world of “Hiccup” (v/o Jay Baruchel) and his now faithful dragon “Toothless”.  It’s a much different place now as their is peace, love and harmony between the dragons and the villagers.  This time around all that is at stake with threats from a new, and very powerful enemy, “Drago” (v/o Dijiman Hounsou).  During a flight of fancy, dragon-racing game Hiccup and his friends, “Snotlout” (v/o Jonah Hill), “Fishlegs” (v/o Christopher Mintz-Plasse), “Tuffnutt” (v/o T.J. Miller) twin sister “Ruffnut” (v/o Kristen Wiig), who as always, give us some of the best laughs of the movie, when she goes after the handsome “Eret” (v/o Kit Harrington) and with Hiccup’s now also grown up, girlfriend, “Astrid” (v/o America Ferrera), they discover a fortress made of ice in which they find a ‘mysterious’ woman, “Valka” (v/o Cate Blanchett) whom has spent the past 20 yrs ~ which turns out to be how old “Hiccup” is ~ freeing captured dragons and caring for the injured ones. 

Turns out that “Stoic” (v/o Gerard Butler) and “Valka” know each other..quite well as a matter of fact as she is “Hiccups” long lost, presumed dead, mother.  Cue the violins (and adult part of the movie) here as it’s the emotional scene coming up where they all get back together as a family immediately, of course and fall back in love on sight.  “Drago” in the meantime feels that all dragons should be captured and enslaved and “Stoic” and his ever-present sidekick, “Gobber” (v/o Craig Ferguson) immediately want to go to battle, whereas the naive “Hiccup” feels that if he can only meet to speak with “Drago”, he will see his reason and change his mind. But as expected. difficult consequences occur ~ note to parents, younger children will probably not understand this part well, and it leads into what could be an emotionally upsetting outcome, but you will soon see the outcome of this and it ultimately leads to the age-old ramification (and message within the movie) good overcome bad and the weak can defeat the strong with all the right attitude. 

This is certainly a fun movie, for both adults and kids alike as it’s pretty visually dazzling and I was able to see it in 3D so the action sequences were definitely made fun with that!!  

Grade: C+

GRADING SCALE: A = OSCARWORTHY; B = ABOVE AVERAGE~MUST SEE; C= AVERAGE~SHOULD SEE; D = SEE AT YOUR OWN RISK; F = YEAH..DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME OR MONEY.. ( + OR – ) GIVES IT A BIT UP OR DOWN