Currently browsing posts by Hannah Buchdahl.

Review: Nine Days

Nine Days is quite the contemplative film. It dabbles in some high-concept existentialism and evokes themes explored in both 1998’s observational psychological drama The Truman Show and this year’s Oscar-winning animated movie Soul.  Chew on that for a while. Then go check it out.

Review: Jungle Cruise

Is it safe to cruise again? Cinematically speaking, yes. Jungle Cruise is a fun ride, thanks in large part – okay, almost entirely – to the likability of its stars, Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. The film is loosely based on a Disneyland theme park ride that takes travelers downriver, through a jungle filled with wild animals and supernatural stuff. I don’t recall ever taking the ride, but I’m pretty sure that’s where the similarities end. As a movie, Jungle Cruise skims across the water as a lightweight family-friendly comedy adventure in the vein of Pirates of the Caribbean (also a Disney ride), Indiana Jones, The Mummy and National Treasure. And if you like puns, as I do, you’re guaranteed a good chuckle at least every few minutes.

Review: Joe Bell

Mark Wahlberg (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day) is back at it as yet another flawed, working-class hero type based on a real guy. This time around, he’s Joe Bell, an Oregon dad who quit his job to walk across the country in search of redemption after his 15-year-old gay son Jadin killed himself in response to intense bullying at school. Joe decides to pay tribute to his son by walking to New York City where Jaden had hoped to live one day. Along the way, he speaks in schools, churches, bars–wherever he can get an audience– about the very real dangers and consequences of bullying. And he reflects on his own missed opportunities to connect and protect.

Review: Black Widow

It’s been a looooong time coming to get Russian spy-turned-Avenger Black Widow aka Natasha Romanov’s backstory onto the big screen. And now Marvel fans can breathe a sigh of relief. The combination origin story and fill-in-the-gap between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War is a satisfying, action-packed spy thriller with a dysfunctional family dynamic that is both toxic and amusing. If you lost me at ‘Avenger, ‘Black Widow’, ‘Captain America’, or ‘Infinity War’, then you probably haven’t been waiting on the edge of your post-vaccination seat to see this in theaters. And that’s okay. If you’re not into Marvel movies, move on. Black Widow requires a certain base knowledge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to maximize the entertainment value and fully appreciate Natasha’s history – and potential legacy. (note: It’s not a spoiler to remind folks that Natasha met a tragic, self-sacrificing end in Avengers: Endgame.)

Quickie Review: The Tomorrow War

Hey, look – it’s Chris Pratt! In a sci-fi movie! With big mean monsters! How… familiar!

The biggest difference between The Tomorrow War and some of Pratt’s other big action dramas (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World, Passengers) is that it’s not opening in theaters. It’s being released on Amazon Prime. That could be part of the reason I wasn’t exactly blown away. It’s possible my mere 42” TV screen diminished the film’s impact, though not its audio levels. It got very loud in my living room during battle sequences. Sorry neighbors!

Review: The Boss Baby: Family Business

“What happens on the playground stays on the playground.” Lines like this are what made the first Boss Baby a cute little hit in 2017, and what makes its sequel, The Boss Baby: Family Business easily watchable now for kids and adults. There is a caveat however. While Boss Baby 2 is entertaining enough for a family film night, it’s no Boss Baby 1. The magic is gone – largely because we already know the drill. And, there’s simply not enough (for my taste) of the bitterly sarcastic talking wizard alarm clock “Wizzy”!

Quickie Review: 12 Mighty Orphans

12 Mighty Orphans is one of those inspiring underdog sports movies inspired by real events subject to Hollywood tinkering to condense time, amalgamate characters, and boost tension – as with the recent Blue Miracle on Netflix. That one’s about a group of orphans in Mexico and their devoted guardian who entered and won a prestigious fishing competition. This one’s about a group of scrappy orphans in wartime and depression-era Texas who – with the help of a devoted coach – defy the odds to compete with the big boys in High School football. Think “Friday Night Lights” – with orphans- in the 1930s.

Review: Disney-Pixar’s Luca

Disney-Pixar’s Luca is Finding Nemo meets Splash meets Pinocchio meets a whole bunch of other well-worn concepts, delivered with a dash of fresh Italian seasoning. There’s pasta! Gelato! Vespas! Picturesque land and sea! Combine that with themes of friendship, family, community and staying true to one’s self, and you’ve got the makings of a satisfying dish to add to the large table of appealing Disney-Pixar movies. Luca will leave you sated in a “I’ve had this meal before but still really like it” sort of way. So Buon Appetito!

Review: In The Heights

Welcome back to the movies! In The Heights is the first movie I’ve seen in an actual movie theater in over 14 months. And while it is premiering simultaneously in theaters and streaming on HBO Max, In The Heights is the type of movie that deserves to be seen on the big screen first; and then perhaps, in repeat viewings at home. Especially if you’re a fan of movie and broadway musicals. The film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 2008 Tony-winning musical runs a tad long, but hits all the key notes in terms of story, acting, singing, message and homage.

Review: Spirit Untamed

Spirit Untamed is a conventional family-friendly animated adventure that honors teamwork, friendship and female empowerment. And whoa… there are wild horses. And some catchy tunes. All that makes this second installment of a franchise that began with the 2002 Oscar-nominated film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron worth the ride. There’s not much new to gain, but nothing to lose either. So if the spirit moves you, saddle up.