One of the best pictures of the year is in home video this week: “Rocketman,” the great musical biography of Elton John.
Horror fans will find what they want in theaters with “Ready or Not.”
It’s Viewing the Videos.
“Rocketman” is the latest in the recent string of musical movie stories and it’s just as good as “A Star is Born” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Taron Egerton tears it up as Elton John, acting with consummate skill.
The movie, produced with the help of John and his husband, David Furnish, hits all the right notes (sorry) allowing the audience to care about Elton through the highs and lows his life.
While the drama is very compelling, they don’t skimp on the music. Songs featured include “Crocodile Rock,” “Your Song,” “The Bitch is Back,” Pinball Wizard” and “Rocket Man.”
The story includes numerous flashbacks. Movies usually stumble with sequences like these, but director Dexter Fletcher does a masterful job integrating the big musical moments with the dramatic story.
Easily one of the best movies of the year. Not to be missed.
Secret Life of Pets 2
The animated “The Secret Life of Pets 2” is not big disappointment, but it’s nothing special either. It’s an enjoyable way to spend an hour and half.
The first movie was a delightful fresh look at what pets really do when their owners aren’t around: dancing, singing, and talking. It was different. There was a plot, but it was the usually unseen and unexpected behavior of our pets that provided the enjoyment.
Dogs Max and Duke are back from the first movie. Their lives change drastically after their owner gets married. They must adapt to her baby and it’s an interesting look at the relationship between pets and a new baby.
“Secret Life of Pets 2.” It’s not bad, but it doesn’t live up to the first one.
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” is what happens when an undisciplined filmmaker has unlimited money and no one restraining him: a bloated, overlong collection of visually confusing special effects and a plot that’s incoherent.
When Godzilla first appeared in the 1950s, the movies were much shorter than the two hour and 13-minute slog that is “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.”
The old movies didn’t waste too much time on plot or dialogue. The monsters got loose, laid waste to the planet and were vanquished. Fans got what they wanted without confusion and plot.
Here, the plot moves all over the world but all the locations look pretty much the same.
The real fighting occupies about the last 30 minutes of the film.
Ready or Not
In “Ready or Not,” a beautiful blonde marries into a wealthy family that turns out to be cursed.
She discovers this, of course, after she’s married at the family mansion and forced to play a game of hide and seek, where death is the outcome.
“Ready or Not” is a high-end graphic horror film. Members of the wealthy family must kill the bride by dawn or they will lose all their wealth.
As the night goes on, they accidentally kill each other with guns, medieval hatchets, crossbows and the occasional pot of boiling water.
When one of the family members suggests maybe they should take off before they’re all dead, someone says “I’d rather be dead then lose all this.”
Samara Weaving is Grace, the bride. A Margot Robbie look-alike, she starred in the “SMILF” TV on Showtime. She’s up to the challenge, and brings a believable toughness in this jumble of bursts of violence and some overacting by the rest of the cast.
The appeal of “Ready or Not” lies mostly in the fact that they don’t look down at the audience. It promises some graphic violence and a sprinkling of humor from a group of good-looking, mostly talented actors who make this story of the cursed wealthy family believable. For fans of horror, “Ready or Not” does the job.
Three Palm Trees.
Angel Has Fallen
The third entry in a movie series is usually the weakest, and “Angel Has Fallen,” the third installment, proves that the franchise has seen better days.
Lovingly gruff Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerald Butler) is back.
In the first two movies, he saved the president. This time, he saves the president again, only he finds himself set up as the fall guy in a plot to kill the president.
For better or worse, all the elements are here. Double crosses. Double-double crosses. Betrayal by the best friend. Dark web machinations. The miraculous ability for the hero to escape custody time and time again. Evil personified by the military industrial complex. A loving wife who refuses to believe her husband is capable of evil-doing. And the final hand-to-hand confrontation between the hero and the villain.
For a movie with an estimated budget of $80 million, the action sequences, while having high production values, are surprisingly dull. They’re flashy, but not very exciting.
The movie finally exhibits some visceral excitement in the final 20 minutes when Banning is protecting the president while his crew is picked off one by one.
In the end, in the time-honored tradition of action movies, the hero faces off one-on-one with the head bad guy. Danny Huston is that bad guy, Wade Jennings, and he delivers a perfect low-key serious and scary performance. He’s a somewhat weary villain, just in it for the money, but cannot give up when things turn against him.
Morgan Freeman makes a solid contribution as the President. He’s been promoted from Speaker of the House in the first movie to Vice President in the second movie and now he’s president.
He delivers. He is the ”movie president.”
The movie gets a welcome jolt from the gray bearded Nick Nolte as Banning’s estranged father.
After abandoning Banning when he was a child, he’s been living off the grid.
Fortunately for Banning (and the movie) Banning conveniently finds his dad, who lives close to the center of the action. He also has a stockpile of weapons and explosives that assist Banning in his fight to bring the real murderers to justice.
Nowadays Nolte usually is over the top. But here, he does an excellent job, even though his character has lived like a hermit for decades.
Piper Perabo is excellent in the thankless traditional role of the wife who knows her husband is innocent and must wait for things to resolve themselves.
Butler is an excellent actor, but the role of Banning has run its course. We’re sympathetic to his plight, but his character does not reach out and grab the audience.
Two Palm Trees.
FROM THE VAULT
Phantom of the Opera
The 2004 version of “Phantom of the Opera” starred Gerard Butler (“Angel Has Fallen”) It was not popular with critics but audiences loved it.
HOW WE RATE THE FILMS
Home videos are simply rated recommended or not recommended.
New Releases are rated as follows:
Five Palm Trees: Must see
Four Palm Trees: Worth seeing on the big screen
Three Palm Trees: Recommended for home viewing or on the big screen
Two Palm Trees: OK if you’re not paying
One Palm Tree: Skip it. Save your money and your time.