Dec 20 2019

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Rattled and nearly exterminated, the surviving Resistance face the next wave of terror to take over the galaxy, The Final Order. Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley), following the Jedi path remains psychically tethered to Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) of the Sith path. What results when their paths meet again, will history repeat itself? This is the final chapter of the Skywalker saga. Back in the hands of Director J.J. Abrams with main writing credits going to Chris Terrio and Abrams this final go round of the Skywalker story is a tricky one to discuss without starting a forest fire in some regard. So, spoiler free, here’s what you need to know: known for terrific sci-fi setups but repeated failed attempts at closing the story/deal J.J. Abrams seems like a chancy go at best to put the bow on this nearly 43 year old franchise, a massive quilt stitched into the fabric of our pop culture society and a story that’s spurred millions of imaginations and their subsequent offshoots, yet that’s the Herculean and near impossible job he’s been tasked with, closing the deal. The end result, a large quantity of nostalgia and fan service, call backs to familiar lines of dialogue, and, scenarios that seem just a few degrees separated from what we’ve already seen. So, it’s more of the same, but a little different, which, to be fair, isn’t too far off from George Lucas’s original intent as explained around episodes 1,2, and 3, roughly, a story about family that repeats itself generation after generation. To that end, nailed it in spades. But, on the backside of that equation what’s particularly disappointing are the tonal mis-matches along the way, points that should have been heart wrenching miss their mark, instead, it’s the smaller moments that have the bigger emotional impact and the two hour and twenty minute return to a galaxy far far away seems long, drawn out, and a bit overextended, even if the intent is to give all our beloved characters a chance to “say goodbye,” the art of leaving the party after the peak but before sunrise definitely seems lost here. Regardless, we all know this film is critic proof, fans will go just the same, perhaps get frustrated just the same, and more importantly continue to dream of how it should have ended….in their own galaxy far far away. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is rated PG-13.

Dec 20 2019


In the heart of the city a tribe of cats known as the Jellicles gather yearly to decide which one of their kind will be allowed to ascend to the Heaviside Layer and be re-born to a new Jellicle life. Directed by Tom Hooper and based loosely on the writings of T.S. Eliot and the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber this Broadway to screen transformation is the controversial picture that’s raising eyebrows and coughing hairballs along the way. Set with a stellar cast including heavies Idris Elba, Judi Dench, Taylor Swift, Ian McKellen, and Jennifer Hudson just to name a few, the talent factor is high in this production, but sadly, it’s the lack of actual narrative coupled with computer generated costuming, sets, and sometimes movement that makes this recitative nightmare a tempo’d clash of taste and artistic license. And, save for the “hits” of the show including Memory and Macavity, the rest of the music comes across as eye-rolling and flat out bad. This one’s lost in translation, pass. Cats is rated PG.

Dec 6 2019

The Aeronauts

When 19th century balloon pilot Amelia Rennes (Felicity Jones) partners with budding meteorologist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) in an attempt to beat the world’s record for height reached in a gas filled balloon their personal safety is not guaranteed; how high will they actually go, and at what cost? Directed by Tom Harper and Written by Harper and Jack Thorne, this oddly metered film measures out well balanced performances right down the fairway for both Jones and Redmayne, but stalls out with rather droll banter while terrestrially bound. Meanwhile, in flight the real action takes hold, hand wringing and breath holding moments do their best to keep audiences locked in for the death defying ride with impressive cinematic scope and CGI creation. And, scoring by Steven Price further amps up the tension to new levels with well crafted composition. Worth the matinee effort for the visual spectacle factor, otherwise a rental will suit just fine. The Aeronauts is rated PG-13.