Review: 12 Strong

Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: Pitch Perfect 3

Awards season is filled with a lot of complex, thought-provoking stuff that represents your cinematic meat and potatoes, with a side of veggies. Pitch Perfect 3 is your fluffy dessert. A simple treat that goes down easy but should be consumed in moderation. It’s not nearly as good as the refreshingly original Pitch Perfect (2012) or its entertaining sequel, Pitch Perfect 2 (2015). But it is good enough to satisfy the fan base (you know who you are, pitches). At this point, the law of diminishing returns has definitely nibbled away at the comedy/music franchise. But there’s room for replenishment and redemption because the main characters are still fun to watch, and the music is still fun to hear. In other words, despite PP3 being marketed as the Bellas’ “Farewell Tour,” there will surely be a PP4 ‘Comeback Tour’.

Review: The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman is the type of movie I could watch multiple times – not for the (so-so) plot – but rather, for the musical production numbers filled with heart, spectacle and earworms galore. If you don’t like Broadway musicals, The Greatest Showman won’t ring your bell. But if you’re a fan (as I am), you’re bound to enjoy this original movie musical that is, in essence, a Broadway show on the big screen. It doesn’t quite rise to the level of a Moulin Rouge or Les Miz, but like the circus that P.T. Barnum created, The Greatest Showman is fun for the whole family. And c’mon, who doesn’t like Hugh Jackman, the most versatile guy in show business?!

Quickie (Animated Feature) Reviews: Coco and Ferdinand

First things first. Disney-Pixar’s Coco is way better than Ferdinand and will probably win Best Animated Feature at the 2018 Oscar ceremony in March. So if you have to pick just one, Coco is the better bet, especially for anyone aged seven and up.

Spoiler-free review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Don’t worry Star Wars junkies. You’ll love The Last Jedi. Problem is, I’m not a Star Wars junkie – I’m just a casual fan – so (gasp!), I wasn’t as blown away by “Episode VIII” as the somewhat Comic-Con-obsessed crowd that I saw it with. Not that I didn’t enjoy most of my two-and-a-half hour visit to a galaxy far, far away. I just happened to like 2015’s nostalgia-fueled The Force Awakens a bit more. The Last Jedi picks up right where that one left off. The franchise’s young new heroine Rey (Daisy Ridley) finds herself on a distant planet, face to face with the elusive Jedi master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). She’s there to return his light saber, get some Jedi training, and convince him to rejoin the Resistance led by his sister, Princess/General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher). You know the rest. I’m just kidding. You don’t, unless you’ve seen the film or read the spoilers. I’m not enough of an expert to know what constitutes a spoiler, so I’ll just err on the side of caution and keep it brief.

Review: The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water is shaping up to be an awards-season contender, though it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea – or water. It’s a mesmerizing adult fairy tale co-written and directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim, Pan’s Labyrinth). In a nutshell: the film is about a lonely mute named Elisa (Sally Hawkins) who falls in love with a fantastical sea creature (Doug Jones in a gilled wetsuit) being held prisoner in the high-security lab where she works as a cleaning lady. Sure, it all sounds kinds of weird, and it is – but it’s also a stunning film with some stellar acting.

Cinema Clash Podcasters talk Darkest Hour, The Shape of Water, Wonder Wheel, and the DC Film Critics Awards

Got an hour or so to kill? Like to listen to podcasts? If so, check out this super-sized edition of the Cinema Clash podcast with Charlie and Hannah (me) and special guest Christian Hamaker as we spar over: Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, Sally Hawkins as a mute cleaning lady who falls in love with a fish man in Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, Woody Allen’s mediocre Coney Island period drama Wonder Wheel; Plus, the winners, losers, shocks, surprises, disappointments and debate surrounding the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Awards. [Note: You can also subscribe to the Cinema Clash on iTunes so you never miss an episode.]

Review: The Disaster Artist (and The Room)

The Disaster Artist is a gift this holiday season to fans of the 2003 independent film The Room, a movie so dreadful it became known as the “Citizen Kane of bad movies.” Unbeknownst to me (until recently), The Room also became a cult classic. Now that I’ve seen it, I totally get it. The Room is so bad, it’s good, especially if you watch it with a raucous crowd, plastic spoons, footballs, and printed instructions (see photos below). It’s also essential viewing for anyone hoping to fully appreciate and understand the bizarre brilliance that is The Disaster Artist, a satirical yet fact-based film that explores how the very bad movie The Room came to be made in the first place. James Franco plays Tommy Wiseau, the aspiring filmmaker with an indiscernible accent who wrote, directed, produced/financed and starred in The Room. Franco and Wiseau are like kindred spirits in the quirky Hollywood landscape, so the casting is ideal – assuming you can embrace the quirk. If not, you’ll surely miss the point.

Review: The Man Who Invented Christmas

God bless us, everyone. There’s more than one family-friendly movie worth catching this holiday season. First, there was Wonder, a heartwarming drama based on the best-selling book from 2012. And now there’s The Man Who Invented Christmas, a biopic of sorts about Charles Dickens and the creation of his 1843 classic novella “A Christmas Carol” where Scrooge discovers the true meaning of Christmas after late-night visits from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. The story’s been adapted many, many, many times for stage and screen. So what makes this film worth seeing when you kind of know how it all plays out? Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast, Legion, Downton Abbey) and veteran actor Christopher Plummer – especially Christopher Plummer – and a script infused with warmth and wit.

Review: Justice League

It’s increasingly hard to rate or rank superhero movies when there’s a new one, or two, or three bursting onto the scene seemingly every week. And let’s be honest, the reviews don’t matter. You probably fall into one of three camps: those who see them all, like right away; those who see most of them, eventually; and those who couldn’t care less. For those in the latter category, move on. There are plenty of awesome alternatives hitting the box office right now. For those who do care, or are simply curious, here’s my take on the much-anticipated, long-delayed, rumor-plagued Justice League: It’s pretty good. Not as good as Wonder Woman and not as much fun as Thor: Ragnarok, but it does its primary job: establishing the foundation for DC Comics’ cinematic version of Marvel’s Avengers, i.e. superheroes who are sometimes called upon to ‘assemble’ to save the world.

Quickie Review: Wonder

Wonder is simply a wonderful film for the whole family to watch and enjoy – and sniffle through – as we enter the holiday season. Based on the New York Times best-seller by R.J. Palacio, Wonder tells the inspiring story of August Pullman, a 10-year-old boy with a rare facial deformity whose parents enroll him in school at the start of fifth grade so he can be around other kids and live a more normal life. It’s not an easy transition. Kids will be kids. But Auggie is smart, funny, empathetic and endearing, and he has a close-knit, supportive family that always has his back.