Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: The Lion King (2019)

Can you feel the love again?

In the circle of life that is cinema, The Lion King is back in all its original story glory, with a couple of new songs and stunning visual effects. The “reimagining” of the 1994 animated classic blends live-action techniques with virtual reality tools and photo-real digital imagery to create an all-new computer-generated medium that resembles something of a cross between traditional animation, Animal Kingdom and Mr. Ed. The added layer of ‘realism’ makes the light stuff lighter – and the dark stuff darker – in and around the fictional landscape of Pride Rock, somewhere in Africa.

Quickie Review: Stuber

Stuber’s problems start at the beginning – with its title. You ‘get’ the reference easy enough and early enough once the story begins to unfold (Stu + Uber = Stuber). But the name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue or stick in your head like its stronger box office competitors (e.g. Rocketman, Toy Story 4, Yesterday, Spider-Man, etc.). Plus, Stuber is, quite simply, lame. Moviegoers craving a silly escape into a mindless action comedy may be okay with that. But for everyone else, save your money and your time – at least until this one hits the streaming market.

In a nutshell, Stuber is a weaker version of the weak but amusing mismatched buddy comedy Ride Along, only the pair rides around in an Uber instead of a police cruiser.

Quickie Review: Maiden

With the US Women’s soccer team on a championship run, the timing couldn’t be better for seeking out a documentary like Maiden. It’s a prime example of #GirlPower – on the high seas! Maiden tells the story of the first ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World yacht race in 1989. The film looks at how one woman’s dream transformed into reality, despite an overwhelming number of obstacles – on water and on land – in a field dominated by men. In her 20s, Tracy Edwards followed her passion, dismissed the naysayers and recruited a group of strong young women to embark on a great adventure involving 32,000 miles of global racing on a second-hand yacht (renamed Maiden), a near-mutiny, weather woes, physical challenges and sheer exuberance.

Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home

I’m suffering a bit from early-summer superhero fatigue, so I fully acknowledge that my ailment could account for my less than enthusiastic endorsement of Spider-Man: Far From Home. It’s still an endorsement though. Because no matter my personal angst and anguish over the final moments of Avengers: Endgame, this latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe does a solid job picking up the pieces from Endgame and moving the MCU forward. Spider-Man: Far From Home is an entertaining, somewhat bittersweet sequel that wears two hats: it’s a follow-up to 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming reboot (with a youthful Tom Holland swinging into the role full-throttle), as well as to Endgame, which must be seen first to fully appreciate and understand what’s going on in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the 23rd film in the MCU. In Far From Home, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man from Queens, Peter Parker, is growing weary of the awesome responsibilities that come with global superhero status and is itching to be just a regular teenager again, at least for the summer. But a school trip abroad doesn’t exactly go as planned, and Peter is called upon to step-up, fill the void left by the Avengers shake-up, and help save his classmates – and the world – from a new, monstrous threat.

Review: Yesterday

Quick – try and recite the lyrics to Eleanor Rigby (“picks up the rice in the church…”) Not so easy, is it? Imagine having to recount the music and lyrics to all the Beatles classics – or risk having them gone forever? That’s a dilemma central to the premise of Yesterday, a somewhat bland yet charming cinematic tribute to the Beatles – and to love, love, love.

Won’t you please, please help me… stop singing so I can tell you about the movie? Don’t let me down. Here goes:

Review: Toy Story 4

A part of me did not want a Toy Story 4. I was afraid it would diminish the legacy of a storied franchise that left me in a heap of weep in 2010. Toy Story 3 won the Oscar that year for Best Animated Feature, having brought the story of Andy and his precious – and precocious – toys to a perfectly poignant conclusion. As Andy set off for college, he donated Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang to a toddler named Bonnie. It was the end of an era; but as we now know, not quite the end of the story.

Quickie Review: Murder Mystery

The Netflix original movie Murder Mystery is lame, riddled with clichés, superficial and mildly amusing. And it knows it. Now you know it too and can plan accordingly. Watch with a grain of salt – sprinkled on popcorn – on a hot and humid summer evening that commands mindless indoor entertainment at home, with the A/C on full blast. The title is your first clue to just how seriously this movie takes itself. Murder Mystery is about… da-da-dum… a murder mystery.

Review: Late Night

Late Night is a solid workplace comedy that fluctuates between really smart and funny, and just okay. That unevenness may limit its success at a crowded box office, though it does have all the key ingredients for a second chance at life in the streaming and rental market. Emma Thompson plays Katherine Newbury, a legendary late night talk show host in danger of losing her show after 30 years. She’s brilliant and witty, but also harsh, demanding and stuck in her ways. As a boss, she’s like a hybrid of intimidating editor Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada and the prickly genius diagnostician from House. In a last-ditch effort to shake things up and become more relevant, Katherine decides to finally add a woman to her all-male writing staff, and that opens the door for Molly Patel (Mindy Kaling), an efficiency expert at a chemical plant who has a flair for comedy. Molly happens to be in the right place at the right time to get the kind of big break we all dream about. But she’s going to have to overcome a lot of obstacles and resentment to prove she’s more than just some “diversity hire”… all while staying true to her enthusiastic and idealistic self.

Review: Men In Black: International

Does Men In Black: International break new ground? No, not really. Does it need to? Would have been nice; but no, not really. It’s good enough to serve as an amusing diversion at the start of the summer movie season, and sustain the sci-fi adventure comedy franchise that kicked off with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones back in 1997. It’s a popcorn movie. Over-think it, and you may be disappointed. Embrace it for what it is, and you’ll have a good time watching a new crop of super-secret agents tasked with protecting Earth from the scum of the universe. The plot is a tad superficial and the globe-trotting a bit excessive and unnecessary (except for lending credence to the subtitle), but a solid cast helps keep it afloat.

Quickie Review: The Fall of the American Empire (aka La chute de l’empire américain)

I stumbled into watching The Fall of the American Empire because I thought my podcast partner would surely want to talk about it, since he’s usually the one to champion any movie in French (it’s partially sub-titled). Alas, I was on my own. He didn’t see it! And that’s a shame because he probably would have liked it. Arty Chick may like it too. The Fall of the American Empire is a French-Canadian film that blends elements of a comical heist movie, serious social satire, and crime drama. It’s about a shy and insecure guy with a PhD in philosophy who works as a package courier to make ends meet. One day, while making a delivery, he encounters the aftermath of a robbery gone wrong – and two big bags of cash. What to do? Leave the scene empty handed? Turn the money over to the cops? Return it to its ‘rightful’ owners (who happen to be violent gangsters)? Or… take the money and run?