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Showing posts from December, 2019

Jumanji: The Next Level

Fans of the  Jumanji  franchise will not be disappointed with this latest gathering of reluctant heroes within the now infamous action/fantasy survival game. We can consider this a sequel to 2017’s  Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle , which rebooted the 1995 origin story starring the late Robin Williams. Since then, the board game that trapped Alan Parrish in a terrifying jungle world for decades is now a broken down Atari-like vintage gaming console and cartridge that beckons players with a seducing jungle beat and pulsing electronic glow. Touching the device is all that’s required to physically transport players into the world of Jumanji as avatars of their choosing. Or, in the case of  Jumanji: The Next Level,  this happens without even choosing their character, swept atom by atom into the sinister collection of circuit boards and wires. As one character says upon beginning the transformation, “I hate this part!” As a result of the game’s semi-awareness, we have a few new cast mem

Frozen II

It has been six years since the Hans Christian Andersen tale,  The Snow Queen , was released as  Frozen , the highest grossing animated film of all time. The subsequent merchandising juggernaut made a sequel pretty much inevitable.  Frozen II  will undoubtedly do very well, drawing on fans of the first film during a choice Christmas release. But perhaps Disney animators could have better spent their time working on something new. This latest entry into the Disney library simply tries too hard to be wonderful. Where the original film was, well, original, this is a rehash with a convoluted script, unnecessary characters and songs that just can’t compete with the award winner belted out by Elsa (Idina Menzel) several years ago. We have come to expect visually stunning 3D animation from Disney. But the giant blue eyes and tiny turned up noses of the Arendelle-dwelling royal sisters, voiced once again by Kristin Bell and Idina Menzel (Anna and Elsa respectively) seem plastic and two

Richard Jewell

On July 27, 1996 a pipe bomb exploded in Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during the Summer Olympics. News coverage was heavy, immediate and contributed to the false accusation of Richard Jewell, a security guard who worked at the venue. This story became a regular feature on the evening news, ramping up as the FBI and the news media fed the American public a false narrative in a rush to judgment declaring Jewell guilty without evidence and before being charged. In that respect, we all participated in this gripping true story. Clint Eastwood, age 89, brings us his most recent directorial effort since 2018’s  15:17 to Paris .  Richard Jewell  is a true story that should have been told much sooner. Eastwood has directed several other films in which people are falsely accused by the media and/or authority figures ( Mystic River, Sully ). Mr. Jewell died in 2007 at age 44, having been quietly exonerated following the confession of the actual bomber. I don’t remember that news story,

Knives Out

“I suspect…foul play!” And with that declaration, the death of Harlan Thrombey, family patriarch and uber-famous mystery writer, becomes a mystery unto itself. Perhaps the best selling author of all time, outsold only by The Bible and Shakespeare might have uttered this line, launching the circuitous murder investigation in  Knives Out.  Of course, that author would be Agatha Christie, who brought us the sleuthing adventures of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.  And in a tip of the hat to whodunit murder mysteries, we briefly see Angela Lansbury onscreen in an episode of the highly successful  Murder She Wrote , being watched in the home of the least likely suspect in the Harlan Thrombey murder case. Or is she? The personal nurse to the wealthy 85-year old mystery writer is young Marta Cabrera, from Brazil. Or is it Ecuador? Or is it Uruguay? Or is it Paraguay? Family members have no idea, but they embarrassingly call upon her as exhibit A in their heated discussion of the Ameri