Reviews of streaming movies, as well as one theatrical release.
“Anna and the Apocalypse” is an indie film (directed by John McPhail) out of the UK that promotes itself as a zombie comedy musical. Yes, musical. Available now in the USA via popular digital platforms, the movie centers around teenager Anna (Ella Hunt) and her small circle of friends as they prepare for the various Christmas festivities at their school when a zombie apocalypse breaks out in their normally quiet little town. The group fights their way around town in an attempt to reunite with family members and loved ones, and hopefully find a way out of the undead mess.
“Vice” – Christian Bale destroys his body and plays former Vice President Dick Cheney in this well-made version of Cheney’s story and rise to power. Amy Adams plays his wife, while Steve Carrel plays Donald Rumsfeld. Was interesting to see how the events of the Bush Jr. administration came to be, since there were always the rumors and such circulating. Well worth a watch if you remember this time period in American history. Final Grade: A
“Aquaman” – Introduced in previous DC movies, water breathing hero Arthur / Aquaman gets his own standalone story. And since “Justice League” was such a travesty, nice to see the standalone movies are more entertaining. Jason Momoa gives a fun performance as the hero, and while we all know he has a great body, part way through the movie I began to wonder if Arthur just doesn’t like shirts. Anyway, while the movie is overall a fun superhero romp, it does drag in a few places. And why did we need multiple bad guys? Final Grade: B-
“Bird Box” – 2018 Netflix original. After horrific forces have destroyed most of the population, a woman (Sandra Bullock) must guide two children to a supposed safe haven. The catch is that the enemy can only destroy you if you look at it, so the characters must spend time outside in blindfolds (for some reason the monsters won’t come inside), trying to make their way around as best they can. The main problem I had with this plot is the lack of thought by the characters that, hey, actual blind people exist and manage to survive using various techniques. Instead, there is lots of stumbling around, using strings, and so forth. Most of the story just seemed nonsensical to me. Final Grade: D+
“The Changeling” – From 1980, streaming on Shudder. George C. Scott plays a composer who witnesses his wife and young daughter killed in a horrible motor vehicle accident. Many months later, he rents out an old enormous house to try to get his creative juices flowing again, only he quickly realizes something else is in the house with him. An effective, albeit not particularly scary by today’s standards, haunted house story where we actually get most of the answers we could want as viewers. Final Grade: B-
“You Might Be the Killer” – 2018, also streaming on Shudder. Horror comedy starring Buffy-alum Alyson Hannigan, about a guy named Sam (Fran Kranz) who is training some counselors at a soon-to-open summer camp. Being a camp in a horror movie, the counselors start dying to a masked killer. Sam keeps blacking out, and beings to wonder who might be responsible for all the death surrounding him. If you are a fan of the camp themed slasher movies, you will likely enjoy this funny romp. I know I did. Final Grade: B
So I haven’t been great about updating lately, but I still watch tons of movies. Here’s some mini reviews of films I’ve seen recently.
The “Wreck-It Ralph” sequel is finally here. Six years after the original story, Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) are still best friends in their arcade game world. Through an accident, the Sugar Rush arcade steering wheel used to control Vanellope’s game is broken in the arcade, and the arcade’s owner finds a replacement part on eBay…but determines it costs more than the game itself is making him in a given year. So he decides to unplug the game and sell it off for scrap. Vanellope and Ralph decide they could go to the Internet, find this eBay place, and get the part sent to the arcade.
Technically, it’s “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” but the connection to the previous movie only seems to lie in shared characters.
This being the second installment in the expanded Wizarding World cinematic universe based upon the writings of J.K. Rowling. Once again we follow Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as his path crosses wizard-criminal Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). A handful of other characters return from the first installment (“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”), but whereas that film was often fun and somewhat light-hearted, this film takes a decidedly darker turn.
Written and directed by Drew Goddard, and starring Jeff Bridges, Cynthia Erivo, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, Lewis Pullman, and several others, “Bad Times at the El Royale” is the type of movie Hollywood doesn’t make very often anymore. A noir-ish, ensemble, character driven piece of storytelling. Nothing — and no one — is as it seems in this interesting take of strangers happening to meet at the wrong place at the wrong time as their lives and stories collide.
Based on a novel by Sarah Waters, “The Little Stranger” takes place in England a short time after World War II. Dr. Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson) is summoned to Hundreds Hall, a large estate in the country owned by the remains of the Ayres family — adults Caroline (Ruth Wilson) and Roderick (Will Poulter), children of Mrs. Ayres (Charlotte Rampling). The family’s sole maid, the young Betty (Liv Hill), has seemingly taken ill and is in need of a house call. When the good doctor arrives and examines the young servant, she tells him there is something amiss in the house.