Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story doesn’t exactly break new ground. But it does offer up a pleasant enough excuse for a journey back to a galaxy far, far away. It’s a prequel and a sequel and an origin story designed to shed light on the beloved scoundrel who – several years later – delivered Luke, Leia, C-3PO and R2-D2 to the Rebel Alliance and helped them attack the Death Star (or something like that). It’s hard to picture anyone other than Harrison Ford as sarcastic pilot-extraordinaire Han Solo, but Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!) creates a believable precursor, with a cockiness and swagger that cloaks a deep desire for family, connection and doing the right thing.

Review: Book Club

If you’ve ever been part of a book club and/or read the kinky romance trilogy “Fifty Shades of Grey,” then you’ll totally ‘get’ this movie and enjoy a few good laughs along the way. It’s formulaic and predictable and largely stakes-free, but as the friend who accompanied me to a special Mother’s Day screening of the film declared, “We need that type of movie once in a while!” In other words, don’t over-think it. Just appreciate Book Club for its lighthearted nature and positive themes about embracing change, taking risks, and starting new chapters in the book of life. And, enjoy it for the cast: a powerhouse ensemble of veteran actors led by Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenbergen.

Review: Deadpool 2

Deadpool 2 has a lot in common with Deadpool 1: it’s irreverent, self-deprecating, cynical and sarcastic; incessantly mocking the superhero genre, while leveraging the very plot devices and character quirks that have come to define superhero movies in general and Marvel movies in particular; and, it’s weird, gross, and generally entertaining. But yes – there’s a ‘but’ coming… the R-rating could easily stand for ‘Redundant’ (in addition to, um, other stuff that makes Deadpool 2, like its predecessor, an anti-superhero flick for older teens and adults only). The shock value humor that made Deadpool such a ‘WTF’ hit in 2016 simply can’t be replicated in a sequel. Instead, we get more of the same. More of Ryan Reynolds breaking the fourth wall as Wade Wilson aka Deadpool whose superpower is, as he describes it, “unbridled cancer”; More overt and covert pop culture references; More melodramatic 80s music; More opening credit gags and CGI extravaganzas.

Even the storyline provided by the studio is, intentionally, a load of bull:

Review: Life of the Party

Life of the Party is a serviceable, but forgettable vehicle for the affable Melissa McCarthy. She plays a middle-aged housewife named Deanna whose husband abruptly announces that he wants a divorce after 20-plus years and is in love with a local realtor. He dumps this news on Deanna just after they drop-off their daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) at a nearby college where she’s about to start her senior year. The locale gets Mom thinking… perhaps it’s time to go back to school herself and get those last credits she needed to graduate with a degree in archaeology. Cue the archaeology puns (can you dig it?), the makeover, and the conventional college and family-dysfunction comedy antics: Deanna’s decision initially horrifies Maddie while her sorority sisters think Mom is the bomb (in a cool way); she moves into the dorms and attempts to bond with her freakish loner of a roommate; and, she catches the eye – and more – of a hunky young guy on campus.

Spoiler-Free Review: Avengers: Infinity War

I don’t know what to say. Really. There’s little to say, without giving too much away. So here’s the spoiler-free gist: The Avengers – and their superhero allies from across the Marvel Cinematic Universe – engage in what may be their deadliest showdown of all time. Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Scarlet Witch, Black Widow, Spider-man, Captain America, Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and others too, join forces with the Guardians of the Galaxy (Star-Lord, Gemora, Groot, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, etc.) to defeat a mighty alien named Thanos who aims to eliminate half the universe. Thanos’s misguided plan for population control rests on his ability to collect all six brightly-colored “Infinity Stones” that can manipulate elements of time, space, reality, power, the mind, and the soul. If Thanos (Josh Brolin) succeeds – all hell breaks loose, and a lot of people die. In other words, the stakes are higher than high for this epic action adventure sci-fi fantasy flick.

Avengers, assemble! And bring reinforcements! Victory is not guaranteed.

Review: I Feel Pretty

I Feel Pretty is an average comedy about an average woman who bumps her head in a Soul Cycle class and suddenly believes she’s been transformed into the most gorgeous creature on the planet. The delusions give her newfound confidence to be fearless, carefree and to pursue her dreams and romantic interests as never before. And just like the main character Renee, played by Amy Schumer (Trainwreck), the movie itself is entertaining – yet flawed.

Review: The Rider

The Rider is an arthouse lover’s dream – quiet, authentic, raw, visually captivating with minimal dialogue. It’s the kind of indie that mainstream chicks like me can express a certain appreciation for, while still cautioning the masses that its greatest appeal will surely lie almost exclusively with the arty crowd. The film is a hybrid – part western, part docudrama, part biopic about a young cowboy whose days on the rodeo circuit come to a crashing halt when he suffers a devastating injury.

Review: Rampage

There’s just something about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that lets him get away with making disastrous disaster movies. Perhaps it’s the twinkle in his eye as his characters defy death for the gazillionth time, the gentle nod to the absurdity of the plot, the giant muscles in constant flex for the betterment of humanity… Whatever it is, it’s working for him. Rampage is ridiculous. But it’s not bad. Especially if you have a thing for monster movies, disaster movies, a high body count, cartoonish villains, stereotypical government ‘suits’, implausible stunts, self-deprecating humor and cheesy dialogue.

Quickie Review: Beirut

Beirut is a fairly standard spy thriller and political drama that takes place primarily in 1982 but still feels relevant and timely given the perpetual, seemingly futile efforts to secure peace in the Middle East. The film stars Jon Hamm (Baby Driver, “Mad Men”) as Mason Stiles, a US diplomat who flees Lebanon after a tragic incident at his Beirut home in 1972. Fast-forward ten years, and Stiles is called back to Beirut to help negotiate the release of a friend and CIA operative whose captors insist on talking only with Stiles, for reasons that relate back to his time in the war-torn country.

Review: Blockers

The premise certainly sounds horrifying and offensive: When three parents discover their daughters’ pact to lose their virginity at prom, they launch a covert one-night operation to stop the teens from sealing the deal. Sounds like a laugh riot, right? Well, as much as I hate to admit it, Blockers is quite funny. It’s also a hard ‘R’, so don’t be cueing this one up for Family Movie Night.