Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Storks

Storks delivers. Okay, now that I’ve gotten that over-used pun out of the way, I’ll move on. The movie is a solid, entertaining animated flick that will keep kids engaged without boring adults to tears. It’s not as good as Zootopia, but it’s way better than the likes of The Wild Life, Ratchet and Clank, Norm of the North, and other animated misfires lobbed at us this year, and I personally liked it better than The Secret Life of Pets. Storks relies on a solid formula of good story, wacky adventure, quirky characters, and a sweet exploration of the true meaning of friends and family. Awwwwww.

Queen of Katwe

Queen of Katwe is a feel-good movie, typical of what we’ve come to expect from a Disney sports drama based on a true story. The “drama” is a bit limited considering the sport is chess. But the story itself is interesting and inspiring, and delivers a good message for girls and boys – and adults as well – about discipline, mental toughness, and overcoming adversity. The movie is based on an ESPN article and book about Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga), a young girl from the slums of Katwe, Uganda who beat the odds to become an international chess champion.

Bridget Jones’s Baby

Welcome back, Bridget. As sequels go, this movie is entertaining enough to satisfy most fans of the franchise that chronicles the life of an insecure single woman in London trying to find her place in the world, personally and professionally. As Bridget Jones’s Baby opens, we find Bridget (Renée Zellweger) celebrating her 43rd birthday in somewhat pathetic fashion, with a bottle of wine and a cupcake with a candle in it. She’s now at her ideal weight and is doing well career-wise, as a news producer. But in the romance department, she’s still (or again?) struggling. A free-spirited co-worker (Sarah Solemani) takes Bridget on a ‘glamping’ trip where Bridget literally falls for the first guy she meets, Jack (Patrick Dempsey, aka McDreamy), and they have a one-night stand. Fast-forward a few days and Bridget runs into her old flame Mark (Colin Firth). The two, um, reconnect. Next thing you know, Bridget discovers that she is pregnant. Who’s the Daddy? No spoilers here…

Sully

This movie is like Tom Hanks himself – a celebration of the everyman, in this case, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (Hanks), the US Airways pilot who was thrust into the limelight by a confluence of gut instinct and really good luck that culminated in the so-called “Miracle on the Hudson” on January 15, 2009. Sully and first officer Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) were justifiably hailed as heroes in the aftermath of that incident for their ability to remain incredibly calm and composed as they “landed” their Airbus A320 in the middle of the Hudson River after a bird strike took out both engines shortly after take-off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Miraculously, all 155 souls on board the plane that day survived. We all saw it, either live or on constant televised replay… dramatic images of commuter boats and first-responders in helicopters plucking scores of passengers from the wings of the aircraft. And therein lies the problem with Sully. It’s hard to get overly-invested in the drama when you know everything works out in the end. So while director Clint Eastwood makes an admirable attempt to tell an interesting, lesser-known story about the subsequent investigation by FAA and NTSB desk jockeys and computer-simulated recreations devoid of the “human factor”, all that really matters is the 208 seconds that had passengers and crew heeding the Captain’s call to “brace for impact!” and flight controllers on the ground fearing the worst when the plane drops off their radar. It’s dramatic stuff for sure. But you can only replay 208 seconds so many times in a movie that stretches to hit a 95-minute running time.

The Light Between Oceans

Some people (particularly those who hate melodrama) may scoff at the manipulative nature of The Light Between Oceans, with its sweeping score and dramatic pans of crashing waves and remote landscape; but for fans of a solid romantic drama with a two-kleenex tearjerker quotient, The Light Between Oceans is worth the view.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes on Two Indies: A Tale of Love and Darkness; Morris from America

A Tale of Love and Darkness is obviously a passion project for Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman. She not only stars in the film, which is primarily in Hebrew with English subtitles, but she also wrote the screenplay, and directed. Unfortunately, she may have bitten off more than she could chew with her directorial debut. I can’t imagine anyone rushing out to see this film unless they are already familiar with Israeli writer and journalist Amos Oz and are curious to see how his memoirs have been translated to the big screen. Even they may be surprised and disappointed to discover the film focuses primarily on the mental illness and depression that plagued Amos’s mother Fania (Portman) as he was growing up in Jerusalem in the 1940s.

Ben-Hur

Ben-Hur revisited is the best movie for the faith-based crowd since Gods of Egypt, and I say that with tongue firmly in cheek. Both are really weak. Like the 1959 original starring Charlton Heston, the 2016 remake tells the epic story of Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish prince falsely accused of treason by his adopted brother, Messala Severus, an officer in the Roman army. After years enslaved in the galley of a ship, Judah returns to Jerusalem seeking revenge (and a reunion with his wife), but after an epic 3D chariot race against Messala, Judah finds redemption instead.

War Dogs

War Dogs joins the ranks of ‘good but ultimately forgettable’ movies of the summer. Based on a true story, the film stars Jonah Hill and Miles Teller as Ephraim Divoroli and David Packouz, a pair of twenty-something Miami dudes who exploited a little-known government initiative that allows small businesses to bid on federal contracts. The initiative was meant to restore some balance to the fundamentally flawed defense-contractor universe after the Cheney-Halliburton debacle, but instead it opened the door for chumps like Packouz and Divoroli to exploit the system and rake in millions of your tax dollars during the Iraq War.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: Pete’s Dragon; Florence Foster Jenkins; Hell or High Water

Good news, mainstream movie fans: There really is something for just about everyone at the Box Office this weekend. First, however, I must confess that I missed the screening of Sausage Party and doubt I’ll get around to watching it anytime soon, unless someone wants to send me a Sausage link. Regardless, I suspect the movie is filled with enough raunchy adult animation and humor to entertain a certain demographic. I’ll just leave it at that (for now), and move on to Pete’s Dragon, Florence Foster Jenkins, and Hell or High Water

The best new family film option is Pete’s Dragon, a live-action reimagining of a 1977 Disney flick that I don’t recall watching as a kid, even though it featured music and singing (i.e. how did I miss that one!?) I’m not exactly the target demo anymore for this type of movie, so I borrowed 12-year-old Aaron, 8-year-old Marisa, and their parents for an honest, independent evaluation of this Tarzan-esque meets dragon story. The general consensus: They liked it!

Suicide Squad

I’m a pretty big fan of superhero movies. I even liked Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. So I went into Suicide Squad with an open mind, despite the fact that I wasn’t familiar with the ‘Squad’ until the pop culture explosion of the past few months, and I’d never read the DC Comics that introduced this bizarre group of anti-heroes to the world. Unfortunately, an open mind wasn’t enough. I didn’t hate the movie. But I also didn’t like it. I was surprisingly bored and more than a tad confused about the motivations of the characters, and the plot. On top of that, I just don’t see the purpose of diluting an already over-saturated market of superhero movies with a flick that features characters that you’re sort of supposed to root for, even though they’ve done some really bad things, because they go into battle against people (or creatures) who’ve done much worse things. It’s like the “Axis of Evil” being called upon to fight ISIL. When you’ve got Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, or even Deadpool, why in the world would you put the fate of the world in the hands of a bunch of killers who’ve been offered clemency in exchange for their “cooperation” in covert government ops?