Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: Megan Leavey – A True(ish) Tale about a Marine and her Dog

Megan Leavey feels like a movie that started out as a pet project, gained momentum as a pet project, and made it to the big screen as a pet project, complete with some decent actors and, in the case of the screening I attended, a heartfelt introduction from Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. His office was instrumental in helping real-life Marine corporal Megan Leavey adopt Rex, the bomb-sniffing dog that served alongside her in Iraq. If you’re a sucker for a tale about a woman and her dog, then Megan Leavey is there for ya. Hoorah.

Spoiler-free Review: Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman – all the world is waiting for you – and the power you possess [at the box office]. So go kick some butt!

The greatest female superhero of all time finally gets her due in this big-budget, action-packed chick flick directed by Patty Jenkins, the first woman to helm a major DC Comic or Marvel movie. Golden-lasso-of-truth be told, Wonder Woman is not a perfect movie, but it is far better than the most recent DC Comic flicks (i.e. Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad) and it delivers a compelling combination of action, romance, backstory, plot, and inspirational message for our times. All packed into a solid two hours and 20 minutes.

Baywatch

Prepare to wade into shallow waters! I mean, c’mon, it’s Baywatch– the movie. Do you remember the television series? It’s not meant to be deep. It’s meant to be stupidly entertaining. And it is. Barely. For the most part, the film pokes fun at its soapy self, delivering what might have been a particularly raunchy, yet heartfelt “special episode” of the show, wherein the lifeguards get wind of a drug dealer in their midst and decide to bring down the bad guys (and gals) themselves instead of, you know, calling the cops.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Argh. The fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is, like many of the characters featured in the flimsy plot, simply dead on arrival. It’s a boring retread that fails to engage or entertain – even in IMAX 3D. Some folks around me actually nodded off behind those 3D glasses, only to be jarred awake by the occasional boom of a cannon or the loud, sword-swinging, ship-to-shore combat involving pirates both dead and alive, including the drunken, buffoonish, eye-liner-wearing Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). Depp’s portrayal of the quirky Captain Sparrow used to be fun to watch, even when the films’ plots made very little sense. But now, the shtick is stale. He’s become a caricature of his caricature of a character. Fourteen years after Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl turned a Disney theme-park ride into a cinematic juggernaut, it’s time for Depp to retire the Captain and get back to the types of roles that showcase his versatility.

Cinema Clash podcast: Snatched; The Lovers; King Arthur; The Wall; Obit

I missed my chance to see the Amy Schumer/Goldie Hawn Mother’s-Day-weekend comedy Snatched and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword before they opened, but that didn’t stop me from chatting about them with someone who did. So tune in to the Cinema Clash with Charlie and Hannah for lively debate about those two flicks, in addition to the dysfunctional marital drama The Lovers, the psychological war drama The Wall, and the surprisingly entertaining deadline-oriented documentary Obit.

Risk

Good timing. Just as the U.S. Justice Department is said to be considering, again, whether to charge WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for his role in the disclosure of hundreds of thousands of classified documents, a new documentary seeks to shed new light on the man himself. Risk is basically a companion piece or prologue to Laura Poitras’ Oscar-winning documentary CitizenFour about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The Snowden saga began to unfold as Poitras was doing her deep dive into Assange. Serendipitous, for sure, because CitizenFour tells a stronger story and is, by far, the better film.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 does what a good sequel is supposed to do. It preserves the elements that made the first one a big success (intergalactic action and adventure, quirky characters, heaps of sarcasm, and an awesome soundtrack), while building on the backstory and expanding the ever-expanding Marvel universe. If you liked the first GOTG (2014), you’re sure to like the second at least as much, if not more – from the opening sequence featuring a baby Groot rocking out to classic tunes, all the way through the FIVE bonus scenes peppered throughout the closing credits.

Gifted

Gifted is admittedly schmaltzy and formulaic, but it fits a current void in our cinematic options for chick flick dramas. It plays a bit like a Nicholas Sparks movie – but with a smartass kid, a scene-stealing one-eyed cat, and the hunky Chris Evans (Captain America) as what one character describes as “the quiet damaged hot guy” at the bar. Evans plays Frank Adler, a single man raising his spirited young niece Mary (McKenna Grace) in a quiet coastal town in Florida. He’s been home-schooling the girl, but wants her to socialize more with other kids. So he sends her to public school, where her teacher Bonnie (Jenny Slate) soon discovers that Mary is a math prodigy. That discovery sets in motion a debate over Mary’s education, and a custody battle between Frank and his domineering mother Evelyn (Scottish actress Lindsay Duncan).

The Zookeeper’s Wife

Just in time for Passover… a new Holocaust movie! It’s hard to believe that 80 years after Hitler hatched his maniacal plan to exterminate Jews, there are compelling stories of faith, survival, heroism and sacrifice still making their way to the big screen. The Zookeeper’s Wife isn’t nearly as gripping and powerful as the likes of Diary of Anne Frank or Schindler’s List, but it’s a valiant effort and comes along at a time when the nation – and the world- can use a good reminder to “never forget” what happened, how it happened, and the dangers of a lunatic leader with a cult following. Not to mention the importance of resistance – and persistence. For that very reason alone, it’s worth checking out The Zookeeper’s Wife, based on the nonfiction book by Diane Ackerman. It recounts how a Polish couple who ran the Warsaw Zoo helped save hundreds of Jews during the German invasion, by using the zoo as a way-station for men, women and children to escape from the ill-fated Warsaw Ghetto.

Life

Life begins as a space drama reminiscent of The Martian or Gravity and morphs into a horror movie that’s more like Alien. It’s a mash-up that didn’t really work for me, so I left the theater disappointed, grossed out, and less than enthusiastic about the prospect of a sequel. Yes, Life leaves the capsule door open for a Life 2, just in case the sci-fi thriller finds itself an audience. I put Life on par with recent (weak) space fare, including The Space Between Us and Passengers, and a few notches below Arrival, which features a similar alien blob that is more visceral than literal in its threat to humanity. The alien creature that co-stars in Life is a flesh-hungry critter that picks off its cast-mates one by one. So don’t get too invested.