The Little Mermaid – The youngest of King Triton’s daughters, Ariel is a beautiful and spirited young mermaid with a thirst for adventure. Longing to learn more about the world beyond the sea, Ariel visits the surface and falls for the dashing Prince Eric. Following her heart, she makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula, to experience life on land.
Expectations: I have to say that the live-action reimaginings from Disney of their animated catalogue haven’t really done a lot for me in improving upon the originals so I can’t say the bar is set considerably high for possibly the biggest in that trend, a film that all the girls of my generation adored and still revere. I like the casting and the fact that they brought in Lin Manuel Miranda to punch up the songs a bit is promising so I’m curious t see how it all goes. It also comes from a hit-and-miss director with me, Rob Marshall, but musical adaptations are his thing so this may work out to be an enjoyable experience.
Kandahar – An undercover CIA operative gets stuck in hostile territory in Afghanistan after his mission is exposed. Accompanied by his translator, he must fight enemy combatants as he tries to reach an extraction point in Kandahar.
Review: This film, on the outside, felt curiously similar to Guy Ritchie’s latest film with Jake Gyllenhaal last month but it is a kind of perfect vehicle for Gerard Butler. Playing the grizzled contractor caught behind enemy lines, he and director Ric Roman Waugh pair for the third time and seem to have a good chemistry down as I found the movie pretty entertaining. As I write this, it is being slaughtered on Rotten Tomatoes, but I encourage an open mind on this one.
You Hurt My Feelings – Beth (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a popular writer, and her husband Don, a well-liked teacher, share the kind of relationship that truly, seriously, for the love of God cannot be real: that is, they’re actually in love. Even after decades of marriage, parenting, and their own successful careers, their physical spark has somehow not diminished; in fact, they seem to relish the opportunity to share a single ice cream cone and drive others — including their son, Charlie — mad. Should it come as a surprise then that his own marriage is in crisis? But when Beth discovers that Don has been untruthful to her about his opinion of her work for years — Beth’s world comes crashing down. Has their whole relationship been one Big Fat Lie?
Review: On the surface, this looks like a film about rich New York intellectuals going through a tiff in their long marriage but writer and director Nicole Holofcener manages to craft a relatable story that can fit into any romantic relationship. With a deft character-driven nuance, this film navigates the unspoken thoughts that exist in relationships, the white lies or dismissive support that is sometimes given and the hurt that comes from the revealing of the truth. Dreyfuss and her counterpart Tobias Menzies play this film with a veteran’s touch that makes it not only believable but makes us root for their relationship and mental health.
About My Father – The film centers around Sebastian (Sebastian Maniscalco) who is encouraged by his fiancée (Leslie Bibb) to bring his immigrant hairdresser father Salvo (Robert De Niro) to a weekend get-together with her super-rich and exceedingly eccentric family (Kim Cattrall, Anders Holm, Brett Dier, David Rasche). The weekend develops into what can only be described as a culture clash, leaving Sebastian and Salvo to discover that the great thing about family is everything about family.
Expectations: I know this film is all about the big leading man debut of popular comedian Sebastian Maniscalco as his big screen vehicle but it is another indication of De Niro having either a terrible manager, a pending bankruptcy or padding up for his retirement because this loos bad. Not Dirty Grandpa bad or The War With Grandpa bad but still a certain quality of yikes bad. There are some laughs to be had in the trailer but it all looks so cliche and corny that I can’t say it would be that fun of an experience even with a less than hour and a half run time.
Creed III – After dominating the boxing world, Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) has been thriving in both his career and family life. When childhood friend and former boxing prodigy Damian (Jonathan Majors) resurfaces after serving a long sentence in prison, he is eager to prove that he deserves his shot in the ring. The face-off between former friends is more than just a fight. To settle the score, Adonis must put his future on the line to battle Damian–a fighter who has nothing to lose.
Review: I know we are in a post-Jonathan Majors praise environment now due to the charges levied at the rising star but, damn, he is such a force in this movie and such a formidable opponent for Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed in the lead actor’s debut behind the camera. Jordan makes this feel so within the fibre of the franchise while also taking some real cinematic chances with the look of the film that always works out beautifully. I was surprised with how much I liked the movie but also how necessary it felt in the story and not just an extra story tacked on for an obvious cash grab. Just a damn good boxing film with great character work from all involved.
Shazam! Fury Of The Gods – Bestowed with the powers of the gods, Billy Batson and his fellow foster kids are still learning how to juggle teenage life with their adult superhero alter egos. When a vengeful trio of ancient gods arrives on Earth in search of the magic stolen from them long ago, Shazam and his allies get thrust into a battle for their superpowers, their lives, and the fate of the world.
Review: As a guy who enjoyed the first movie, this film feels like a direct continuation of that, with David Sandberg leaning into that fun atmosphere with Zach Levi doing his best as a superhero that is a teen at his core. The film took a lot of flack in being the death rattle of the DC Comics Cinematic Universe as we know it with his character’s future in the James Gunn and Peter Sarafin-led movies being unknown but as far as a story that doesn’t seem to have stakes beyond it’s just over two-hour runtime, it was a thrilling ride even if it was a bit predictable from time to time.
Cocaine Bear – 1985, Chattahoochee National Forest, Georgia. When a duffel bag crammed with cocaine bricks falls from the sky, a massive American black bear eats $14 million worth of nose candy. And as a pair of drug dealers comb the tangled woods to retrieve the goods, the coked-up beast goes on a rampage for more white powder, carving a bloody path of destruction along the way. In the next few hours, the black-haired mountain of muscle and razor-sharp claws will be the most dangerous apex predator on any continent. Do the intruders have what it takes to confront the unstoppable Cocaine Bear?
Review: In a Tarantino-esque romp through a Georgia state park with a myriad of characters, this movie manages to be entertaining, bloody and pretty damn funny, a complete surprise from director Elizabeth Banks who has seemed to find an interesting storytelling stride in the big studio B-film department and I am totally ready to see her do more of them. Multiple actors have scene-stealing moments in it, like The Wire’s Isiah Whitlock Jr. and one-time Han Solo actor Alden Ehrenreich who prove their importance every time they are on screen. I had such a fun time with this movie in theatres and am so happy for this Blu-ray to experience it again and also dig into the gag reel for it.
The Quiet Girl – Set in 1981, this film tells the story of a young girl, Cáit, who is sent away for the summer from her dysfunctional family to live with “her mother’s people”. These are Seán and Eibhlín Cinnsealach; a middle-aged couple she has never met. Slowly, in the care of this couple, Cáit blossoms and discovers a new way of living, but in this house where affection grows and there are meant to be no secrets, she discovers one.
Review: There is a trend in the nominees this past year of the Academy wards and that is devasting stories from other countries about kids that sat in the nominees for Best Foreign Film. Along with the Scandinavian drama Close, this film was selected as well, told in Irish garlic, about the salvation of a young girl to hopefully open up her world and bring her out of the shell that her birth parents had put her in and the tragedy of that being all ripped away. Beautiful performances punctuate a deeply resonant story that will level you heartbroken in its final moments. I loved this film from beginning to end but I will definitely contend that it is a hard sit and you definitely will need the tissues to get through it.
SEAL Team: Season 6 – Failure isn’t an option for the new Navy SEALs, and that kind of pressure can take a toll on the members of the special operations forces’ most elite unit. This team — which includes Jason, the group’s intense leader, and Ray, Jason’s longtime confidant, along with loyal soldier Sonny and SEAL hopeful Clay — trains, plans and executes some of the most dangerous, high-stakes missions and deploys for clandestine missions around the globe at a moment’s notice. While serving their country is a worthy and rewarding cause, it can put a strain on the SEALs and their families, causing the guys to look out for one another in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds, both on and off the job.
Review: Being a big David Boreanaz fan since the Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel years, I was an easy mark to check this series out and I have more love for it than I did with his Fox procedural Bones. The show is tactical military, something I really like in a story, reminiscent of Strike Back or, a show I loved on CBS years ago, The Unit. The best thing is ever since it moved to Paramount+ exclusively they have been able to give more of an R-rated feel which has drastically improved the storytelling and combat on screen obviously. With six seasons of episodes and a seventh on the horizon, this is an easy pick if you’re looking for an action series.
Bonanza: The Complete Series – The Cartwrights’ one-thousand-square-mile Ponderosa Ranch is located near Virginia City, Nevada, the site of the Comstock Silver Lode, during and after the Civil War. Each of the three sons was born to a different wife of Ben’s; none of the mothers are still alive. Adventures are typical Western ones, with lots of personal relationships/problems thrown in as well.
Review: Only getting the Paramount releases for probably just over five years, I was at the tail end of the release of this classic series on DVD and received the final three only, making my collection decidedly lopsided. Well, that was all short-lived as I have your dad and their parent’s favourite television series in my possession and I definitely ever the series and know what it means to the television we have today. Lorne Greene is also a total legend and I get where it comes from because he is a total force on this show.
Steve’s Blu-Ray, 4K & DVD Geek Outs:
The Greatest – Teenagers Rose and Bennett were in love, and then a car crash claimed Bennett’s life. He left behind a grieving mother, father, and younger brother, and Rose was left all alone. She has no family to turn to for support, so when she finds out she’s pregnant, she winds up at the Brewers’ door. She needs their help, and although they can’t quite admit it, they each need her so they can begin to heal.
Review: This was an easy pick-up for me as it stars the incredible Carey Mulligan who was just a rising star at the time and this movie doesn’t get nearly enough love in my opinion. A film that is deeply mixed in both grieving and mourning but the optimism of new life and the continuation of a life snuffed out too soon, writer and director Shana Feste absolutely delivered in her debut feature film and hasn’t really come back with the same calibre of film since. I also love the dramatic work from Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon here as the grieving parents, such great character work.
Deep Impact 4K – A comet is hurtling toward Earth and could mean the end of all human life. The U.S. government keeps the crisis under wraps, but crack reporter Jenny Lerner (Tea Leoni) uncovers the truth — forcing U.S. President Beck (Morgan Freeman) to announce his plan. Grizzled astronaut Spurgeon “Fish” Tanner (Robert Duvall) and his team will land on the comet and lay explosives, hopefully deterring the object from its doomsday course. If not, humanity will have to prepare for the worst.
Review: Back when disaster porn movies were all the rage, like Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day or Jan De Bont’s Twister, studio director Mimi Leder made this film, one that focuses more on its characters with the impending world-ending comet being the backbone to the story and, well, no one saw it and it bombed. Now Paramount is giving it the 4K treatment for a re-release and while I can’t say it improves the film’s problems, being the sappiness of the melodrama, it really makes the special effects look solid, even twenty-five minutes later. It’s also great to see that we’ve accepted Morgan Freeman as president long before Gerard Butler had to protect him in the latest Has Fallen movies.
His Dark Materials: The Complete Series – One of the supreme works of imaginative fiction for both children and adults published in the 20th century. Northern Lights introduces Lyra, an orphan who lives in a parallel universe in which science, theology and magic are entwined. Lyra’s search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and turns into a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. In “The Subtle Knife” she is joined on her journey by Will, a boy who possesses a knife that can cut windows between worlds. As Lyra learns the truth about her parents and her prophesied destiny, the two young people are caught up in a war against celestial powers that ranges across many worlds and leads to a thrilling conclusion in “The Amber Spyglass.”
Review: I won’t mix words here, I was a fan of the New Line-produced film adaptation of this Philip Pullman book series starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig and would have watched more but low box office returns squashed that from happening. That said, the right way to tell this story was in series form and with the power of HBO and BBC we got a damn good version of it with Logan actress Dafne Keen doing a killer job as the lead character, Lyra. The show also had the full experience of adapting the entire series of books and not getting an early cancellation this time around which really is so satisfying and an opportunity a lot of adaptations don’t get.
FUBAR (Netflix) – A father and daughter have both been working as CIA Operatives for years, but each kept their involvement in the CIA hidden from the other, resulting in their entire relationship is a gigantic lie. Upon learning of each other’s involvement in the CIA, the pair are forced to work together as partners, and against the backdrop of explosive action, and espionage, learn who each other really are.
Review: The cool news about this show is that it is action film legend and former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger’s television debut but it feels like a bit of a retread as the secret agent family action stuff was already done with James Cameron in True Lies I thought. Sadly, the show is a bit corny and feels like a rough-around-the-edges Netflix series, or at least the pilot really does. It’s a bit of a bummer as great Canadian Jay Baruchel has a supporting role here and I worshipped at the feet of 80s icon Arnie so I feel obligated to see the whole series through no matter what.
American Born Chinese (Disney+) – Jin Wang, an average teenager, juggles his high school social life with his home life; when he meets a new student on the first day of the school year, even more worlds collide as Jin is unwittingly entangled in a battle of Chinese mythological gods.
Review: Disney may have an underlying hit here when people catch on. I hope it’s through the conduit of Academy Award winners Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh’s involvement in the show, even if their roles in the series are very supporting. Based on a graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang, the show is charming, colourful, and fun and has some really great action choreography plus it features a Monkey King and I have a weakness for that classic martial arts inclusion.
The Kardashians: Season 3 (Disney+) – The family you know and love is back with a brand-new series that gives an all-access pass into their lives. Kris, Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, Kendall, and Kylie bring the cameras back to reveal the truth behind the headlines. From the intense pressures of running billion-dollar businesses to the hilarious joys of playtime and school drop-offs, this series brings viewers into the fold with a rivetingly-honest story of life and love in the spotlight.
Review: I don’t know how I got so wrapped up in this show, having never watched the Keeping Up version aside from clips on the internet of Joel McHale’s E series The Soup, but I am now three seasons deep and kind of ingest it as a character series rather than a reality one. Now, as a viewer, I’m hoping for a more interesting season as the Kourtney and Travis Barker heavy season two was so tedious and almost made me drop the show entirely. This one has already raped up the sibling drama though so that is a good sign. Oh my god, what have I become?
Platonic (AppleTV+) – Former childhood best friends reconnect as adults and try to get past the rift that led to their falling out.
Review: Produced by Nicholas Stoller and starring Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen in a Neighbors reunion of sorts, this is my adult pick of the week for sure. Seth and Rose’s proven comedic chemistry is fully on display in a show that seems tailored to their talents. Unpredictable, funny, charming and sometimes totally relatable, this one may fill the void that Ted Lasso is going to leave next week after the series finale.