Movie Reviews 

Dora and the Lost City of Gold

by Alan Rapp on August 9, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Dora and the Lost City of Gold
  • IMDb: link

Dora and the Lost City of Gold movie reviewI wasn’t expecting too much from a live-action adaptation of Dora the Explorer, but I will admit that I was pleasantly surprised by what I found in Dora and the Lost City of Gold. Far from perfect, the film does have charm and enough brains to both celebrate and poke fun at the educational animated series which spawned it by having Dora (Isabela Moner) raised by her parents (Michael Peña and Eva Longoria) in the jungle helping to explain her quirks (such as talking to her backpack or making up songs about the most mundane things). Although ultimately not as successful, it’s tone and humor reminded me of 2007’s Nancy Drew.

In Moner the film’s producers chose wisely. She’s just sweet, honest, and precocious enough to make us buy this version of Dora who is forced to leave the jungle and stay with family while her parents go off on their latest adventure in search of a lost city. The film offers not one but two fish-out-of-water plots as happy-go-lucky Dora struggles in the city to fit in before she, her cousin Diego (Jeff Wahlberg), and two new friends (Madeleine Madden and Nicholas Coombe) are kidnapped back to the jungle by treasure hunters seeking the lost city.

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Hobbs & Shaw

by Alan Rapp on August 1, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
  • IMDb: link

Hobbs & Shaw movie reviewThe Fast & Furious franchise has produced a series of films over the past two decades that range from fairly okay (Fast Five and Tokyo Drift) to largely forgettable (see everything else). Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw may not have a lot going for it but it does have Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham who take their bickering to the next level when forced to work together on a joint CIA and MI6 assignment (despite neither one working for either agency).

The plot steals more than a little from M:I-2 when an agent (Vanessa Kirby) injects a deadly virus into herself rather than let it fall into the hands of terrorists. Hobbs is tapped to find the agent, who our suped-up super-villain (Idris Elba) and his super-secret villainous organization have framed for the theft and deaths of her team. Ryan Reynolds gets a fun, if largely unnecessary, cameo to bring the hero onboard. Shaw‘s motivations are far more personal.

The film offers plenty of chase sequences but far less muscle cars and heists than the usual Fast & Furious flick. In fact, other the the forced family theme shoved down the audience’s throat at every turn, Hobbs & Shaw feels like a rather purposeful departure from the franchise which spawned it.

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Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood

by Alan Rapp on July 29, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood
  • IMDb: link

Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood movie reviewThe latest from writer/director Quentin Tarantino includes all the trappings that fans have come to expect over the past two decades. Overly talky, in need of a little editing, with a few too many shots of his characters’ feet, Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood is still quite entertaining and easily the best film Tarantino has made since 2009’s Inglourious Basterds. Most comparable with Death Proof, Once Upon a Time offers a slow build-up focused on character and snappy dialogue before jumping headfirst into an explosive finale.

Set in 1969 Hollywood, the plot follows the exploits of western star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) on the downside of his career, his friend and stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), his new neighbor Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), and the Manson Family. The separate threads will eventually intertwine late in the film’s final act on one fateful night in the Hollywood Hills, but for most of the film Tarantino takes his time with each, featuring the Dalton/Booth friendship most prominently with plenty of inserts of the the actor’s glory days as the star of Bounty Law which came to an abrupt end after he started chasing a movie career.

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Spider-Man: Far From Home

by Alan Rapp on July 1, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Spider-Man: Far From Home
  • IMDb: link

Spider-Man: Far From Home movie reviewFollowing the events of Avengers: Endgame, a movie you will definitely want to see before sitting down for this one, Spider-Man: Far From Home centers around Peter Parker (Tom Holland) struggling to fill the void left by Earth’s mightiest heroes while also trying to enjoy his high school class trip to Europe.

There’s quite a bit screenwriters Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers (both who also helped write Spider-Man: Homecoming) get right. One of the oldest Spidey tropes is Peter Parker being crushed by the responsibility thrust upon him at such a young age. The loss of Iron Man, and expectations for him to grow into “the next Iron Man,” are overwhelming for the teenage super-hero just wanting to protect the neighborhood and find time to admit his feelings to the girl he likes (Zendaya).

The script offers a new threat in elemental monsters from a parallel Earth and Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), a hero who has tracked them here. When Peter’s summer trip is hijacked by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) he has no choice but to help Mysterio fight the threat as he struggles with his destiny.

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Yesterday

by Alan Rapp on June 27, 2019

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Yesterday
  • IMDb: link

Yesterday movie reviewYesterday is a feel-good summer movie with a non-traditional leading man, an intriguing idea, and a terrific soundtrack. The film has everything it needs to succeed, but, despite being thoroughly entertaining for much of its running time, never reaches the heights it should given what it has to work with. Even enjoying Yesterday for what it is, it’s hard not to be at least a bit disappointed for what it might have been.

The set-up is simple. A struggling musician (Himesh Patel) wakes up to a world where only he remembers the Beatles. Remembering enough of their music to pass off some of their hits as his own, he finds fame and popularity for the first time while feeling the weight of his lie and the the ever-increasing pressure to continue to produce more and more of the band’s hits. Although it does corner our protagonist into only one likely outcome, leaving little room for surprises (other than one small twist involving the recurring appearance of a pair of ominous characters), when director Danny Boyle‘s film stays focused on Jack Malik’s (Patel) musical rise to stardom (and the humorous moments involved, such as trying to remember the lyrics to “Elanor Rigby“) the movie is everything you want for light summer viewing.

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