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Summer of Soul

by Alan Rapp on July 20, 2021

in Home Video

  • Title: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
  • IMDb: link

Summer of Soul movie reviewIn the same summer as Woodstock, the Harlem Cultural Festival held a series of concerts to celebrate African American music and culture. The more than 40 hours of concert footage has been sitting around for decades and now can finally be seen.

Director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson weaves the performances together with a cultural narrative and interviews from surviving performers and attendees. Along with the numerous great performances, Summer of Soul also captures the immense crowds present at the events only to see the concert be lost to time. Until now.

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Paddington

by Alan Rapp on July 13, 2021

in Home Video

  • Title: Paddington
  • IMDb: link

Paddington movie reviewThrowback Tuesday takes us back to 2014’s Paddington, written and directed by Paul King who succeeded in adapting Michael Bond’s character into one of the most complete, magical, and lovable family films of the 2000s. The term “family film” can often be a derogatory phrase for a movie that cuts corners, goes lowbrow, or oversimplifies in an attempt to hit an all-ages market. Paddington, not unlike classic Disney films, reminds us of what the genre can be.

The story follows a talking bear (a thoroughly believable CGI character voiced by Ben Whishaw) from Darkest Peru to London in hopes of finding a new family. Discovered at Paddington Station, the renamed Paddington is taken in the Brown family while more permanent accommodations are arranged. Despite the concerns of Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville) and the various trouble a bear gets into while trying to make sense of his new surroundings, he quickly wins over the rest of the family (Sally Hawkins, Madeleine Harris, and Samuel Joslin) providing enough time for the bear to search for the explorer (Tim Downie) who met his family decades ago and seems like the most viable suspect to give Paddinton an home.

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The Tomorrow War

by Alan Rapp on July 2, 2021

in Home Video

  • Title: The Tomorrow War
  • IMDb: link

The Tomorrow War movie reviewThe Tomorrow War, about soldiers from the future who arrive to draft earlier generations to fight a war against aliens who are wiping out humankind in the future, is a passable horror movie. The problem is it’s also a below average sci-fi film with aspects of a TV-movie thrown in for good measure. Director Chris McKay and writer Zach Dean struggle to make the various pieces fit into a coherent whole.

Any movie with Chris Pratt, who stars as a high school science teacher with delusions of grandeur, and Yvonne Strahovski, who stars as the future commander, starts out on pretty good footing. The film makes less use of the rest of the cast, which are mostly monster food or stuck in family drama subplots which, will of course, need to be resolved for our hero to learn his lesson.

The aliens, named “White Spikes” for their ability to shoot spikes out of their tentacles, are Chimera-ish monsters interested only in killing. Although not that interesting, the creatures do fit the bill as mindless movie monsters when the film steers into horror where it turns out to be the most successful.

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Ninja

by Alan Rapp on June 29, 2021

in Home Video

  • Title: Ninja (2009)
  • IMDb: link

Ninja movie reviewThrowback Tuesday takes us back to 2009’s Ninja starring Scott Adkins as an American raised in a Japanese temple tasked by his sensei (Togo Igawa) to protect the temple’s most sacred artifacts from a rival former student (Tsuyoshi Ihara) using the skills taught to him to become one of the world’s deadliest assassins.

Ninja is the kind of movie where the police get involved, but only manage to get in the way or arrest the wrong person until they step back to let the ninja fight. Very much the B-action movie it appears to be, Ninja also teases a love story between Casey (Adkins) and the sensei’s daughter (Mika Hijii) as well as Casey’s search for family. Neither amount to much as the film works best when director Isaac Florentine queues up the rivals’ series of action scenes.

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Batman: The Long Halloween (Part One)

by Alan Rapp on June 24, 2021

in Home Video

  • Title: Batman: The Long Halloween (Part One)
  • IMDb: link

Batman: The Long Halloween (Part 1) DVD reviewWarner Bros. Animation finally gets around to adapting the thirteen-issue maxi-series from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale which follows Batman (Jensen Ackles) over one year as he attempts to catch a murderer know as Holiday for a killing on every major holiday tied to the Falcone crime family.

“Part One” takes us from Halloween and the first crime through New Year’s Eve (roughly through the first 4 issues of the storyline). As in the comic, we get appearances from several of Batman’s rogues gallery including the Joker (Troy Baker), Calendar Man (David Dastmalchian), Solomon Grundy (Fred Tatasciore), and Catwoman (Naya Rivera). Both Catwoman and Harvey Dent (Josh Duhamel) have large roles in the story as along with Jim Gordon (Billy Burke) they all are looking to take down crime boss Carmine Falcone (Titus Welliver). The dense storyline has been simplified a bit, and the Joker’s extended sequence remind me of one of the comic’s original failings as the more colorful villains distract from the narrative as they take over center stage.

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