Currently browsing the "Cinema Clash" tag.

Cinema Clash: Split; xXx: Return of Xander Cage; The Founder

Mainstream Chick faces off with her cinematic nemesis Charlie over: M. Night Shyamalan’s creepy psychological thriller Split starring James McAvoy as a guy with 24 alternate personalities who kidnaps three teenage girls; xXx: Return of Xander Cage, an action movie starring Vin Diesel in the second sequel of a franchise I’d never heard of. It’s pure camp. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!; and The Founder, a not-so-feel-good biopic starring Michael Keaton as McDonald’s “founder” Ray Kroc.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: The Secret Life of Pets; Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates; Life, Animated; Zero Days

The Secret Life of Pets is one of those movies that is probably critic-proof because the trailer is so darn cute and promising that kids (and many adults too) will be eager to see it, no matter what. Still, I would be remiss to give it a glowing endorsement when I was, in fact, disappointed. I loved the first 15 minutes and the last 10 minutes of this movie. But everything in between dragged for me as the tone of the movie turned rather dark. The premise is awesome — what kind of lives are our pets leading when we leave them home alone for hours at a time? They party! They get together for walks! They watch telenovellas! The characters (dogs, cats, bunnies, snakes, etc.) are all well-drawn, and well-voiced by the likes of Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress, and Albert Brooks. My issue is with the shift in tone from fun animal adventure to animated crime saga. The Secret Life of Pets is certainly way better than recent duds Ratchet and Clank, Norm of the North, and Angry Birds… but not nearly as good as Finding Dory and Zootopia. Oh well. I may not have loved The Secret Life of Pets, but I do predict the movie will boost attendance at theaters, animal shelters, pet stores, and dog parks! There’s also a cute short before The SLOP that features the Minions of Despicable Me fame.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: Barbershop: The Next Cut; The Dark Horse; First Monday in May

Barbershop: The Next Cut is the second sequel (or maybe the third if you count the spin-off, Beauty Shop) to the 2002 surprise hit, Barbershop, about a day in the life of a barbershop on the South Side of Chicago. The shop, run by Calvin (Ice Cube) serves as a lifeline to the community. But the community is changing. And in The Next Cut, Calvin is contemplating moving his family, and the shop, to the North Side to protect his teenage son from the gang violence permeating the streets. Cedric the Entertainer is back as the comic relief, playing Eddie, a barber who can’t be trusted with scissors or a razor, but is there to tell it like it is. The movie gets a bit heavy-handed with the messaging and a few sub-plots are more of a distraction than a delight. But it means well. It’s got heart, and enough humor to prevent it from being another Chi-Raq. It ties up way too neatly in the end, given the current climate on the South Side, but overall, the movie provides an accessible and timely message worth sharing with teenagers, regardless of demographic and locale.

CinemaClash Podcast: Batman v Superman; My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2; Marguerite; Eye in the Sky

I recorded the latest CinemaClash podcast with Charlie Juhl before I had a chance to actually see Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but I knew it would crush the competition at the box office, and it did. Fortunately, I think the expectations and insights shared during the podcast turned out to be right on target. I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it. I wasn’t going to skip it. Ben Affleck (Batman/Bruce Wayne) and Henry Cavill (Superman/Clark Kent) wore their suits sufficiently well, given what they were tasked with in setting up the whole ‘Justice League’ franchise. Batman v Superman throws a lot at you in 2 1/2 hours, and you really need to have seen Man of Steel and the Dark Knight movies to successfully process all the backstory, future plot points, super-heroes, and super-villains. If you’re a newbie to the genre, don’t expect to like this movie. It’ll seem like a hot mess. Anyway, check out the podcast for more (spoiler-free) debate about B v S, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, a French indie called Marguerite that foreign film and opera buffs may want to check out, and a timely, compelling film about drone warfare that stars Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky. And more! Take a listen: