Scream 6 Review- A Once Tired Franchise Still Has Life In It

The Scream franchise has been one of many upsets and subverting expectations from the very beginning. Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courtney Cox have held this franchise down for two and a half decades. Now only one of the big three is back for this sixth installment. Courtney Cox as Gale Weathers is the only one, but the cast isn’t bereft of returning characters from previous films. Scream 6 focuses on the four main characters from Scream 5. And a continuing plot thread that ties the films together.

Sam and Tara Carpenter (Melissa Berarra, Jenna Ortega) survived the ghost-face killer in Scream 5 along with Chad and Mindy Meeks (Mason Gooding, Jasmin Savoy Brown) , the core four if you will, but they decided to move to New York to get away from their history in Woodsboro. They had a lot of it and it’s too much to get into right now. New York is a place where they can get a fresh start. And that they do until another ghost face killer pops up and they are running for their lives through a few areas of New York City. Which isn’t much of a character in the film as you’d think it would be.

A huge part of the marketing campaign is “New York, New Rules” and that’s not totally what we get in Scream 6. The movie is filmed mainly in an apartment building and a warehouse set up as a shrine to the ghost-face killers of the past. A scene of a ghost face killing on the New York subway system is the only one we get. It’s sad because this is not what I was expecting. I wanted more killing and more of New York. Especially more of the mass transit system of New York. City

Part of what makes this franchise good is how it changes up from film to film. And one of the ways it can change is the cold open. The cold open of Scream 6 is one of my favorites of the entire franchise. There are some cameos during this sequence of actors who have made a name for themselves in the horror genre and big blockbuster film franchises as well. This was a very surprising cold open which is why it was so good to me. This was one of the few times New York was actually a character in the film as well.

For a few years, these two actresses have come onto the scene that has made me happy to have seen them in things. And they are Melissa Berrara and Jenna Ortega. They have done musicals, In the Hieghts, and iconic goth television characters, Wednesday, and both have done dramatic hard-hitting material. One is younger than the other but both of them are terrific actors who can hold their own with anybody they are acting opposite with. They have what it takes to be the leaders of a franchise like this and go off and do awards-worthy work in other places. 

There are some aspects of this installment I was a fan of besides what I’ve mentioned. Not always knowing what was going to happen was pretty cool. Subverting expectations was something I was glad to see. So many of these films are predictable so to see stuff that wasn’t as predictable was a breath of fresh air. That being said I know this film had to tie to the previous one. And that it did very nicely. Scream 5 and 6 were nicely knit together.

The writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick change things up just enough to make this sixth installment of this franchise fresh and new. Especially since the last film was stale repetitive and dull. The directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli use this script to its most value. They get the most out of the characters and story. Even though I had wished they used more of New York. That may have been a budget issue though. The set pieces also worked in context with the story and setting of the movie.

Scream 6 isn’t the best film in the franchise but it’s not the worst either. It brings the franchise to the big apple but doesn’t use New York to its fullest extent. I wanted more killing in this big city. The cold opening was good but not enough. The main two actresses Berrara and Ortega are bonafide stars and they light up this film with their presence. In a tired franchise like this one, it was nice to see the filmmakers subvert expectations. Not doing exactly what fans of the franchise might think is a good thing. This franchise is still fresh and not dead yet and scream 6 is proof of that.

3 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Glitch: The Rise and Fall of HQ Trivia Review- A By the Numbers Documentary Film

In the early 2000s, there was a boom in websites and startup companies that popped up. Just as many failures as well. People had all kinds of ideas for apps and so forth. Two young men, Colin Kroll, and Rus Yusupov, at the time, created an app called Vine where anybody could do six-second videos. It was very popular and the people who owned Twitter bought it for thirty million dollars. After a very successful period, they shut the app down and the creators who worked for them at the time had to go do something else. So they took their money and created a trivia app called HQTrivia. This is the film documenting the rise and fall of this popular gaming app.

Scott Ragowsky was a struggling standup comedian when he took one last audition before giving it up altogether and moving to LA where all the action was. When a friend who was part of the coding team added his likeness to the mobile trivia game he was working on, the owners couldn’t see anybody else as the host of the game after this. He was very funny and personable and added his unique wit and repartee to this mobile trivia app. And things were off and running for him and this little app that could.

The filmmaker Salima Koroma uses popular methods in documentary filmmaking to make this film. And a few interesting additions to spice it up. The popular aspects are all the talking heads in the documentary. Everyone from coders and game designers to users of the game were interviewed for the film. There was a wide range of subjects that gave their thoughts on the rise and the fall of this mobile trivia game. The other element added to the film that spiced it up a bit were various animatics and stock footage of interviews from various talk shows and such. This broke up the monopoly of the narrative of the film.

As with all films of this nature, the rise part was a main part of the story but the fall was equally as important to the story the filmmaker was trying to tell. When people are making a lot of money in a short period greed and power come into play. These guys became so big so fast it went to their heads. Their pasts came back to haunt them and their interpersonal relations with the employees came into question. Such as how they treated them. Including but not exclusive to Scott Ragowsky. He endured a lot of strife at the small company during his tenure there.

As an example rock stars become very popular and they start taking drugs and drinking heavily and partying a lot. That is what happens with these guys who owned this little start-up. It was too much too fast and things started to explode from within.  This won’t be the first time that this has happened and it sure won’t be the last. Ego and the like are another aspect of the trouble people can get into when it comes to this kind of business.  That is just what happens sometimes. It happened very fast for this little mobile game company though.

Glitch: The Rise and Fall of HQ Trivia is a good documentary. It does a lot of similar things as so many other documentaries though. A few things it does do differently help make it more than just a cookie-cutter film like so many others. Scott Ragowsky was the star of the film. He had a lot of presence and a lot to say about the issues of the main story depicted in the documentary. The filmmaker informs the audience watching but doesn’t do anything groundbreaking. Having CNN and HBO Max on board will help with its viewership though. That’s a good thing to get this film out to the public.

3 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre Review- An Action-Packed Heist Comedy with Richie’s Sense of Humor Thrown In For Good Measure

Guy Richie has been a very prolific director in recent years. He has made a handful of very good movies including the live-action Aladdin starring Will Smith as the genie, The Gentlemen co-starring Hugh Grant, and Wrath of Man starring Jason Statham. His latest film Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, an action/comedy heist film, stars both of these two English gentlemen, no pun intended. It is a rollercoaster ride of adrenaline.

Spy operative Nathan Jasmine (Cary Elwes) is tasked with assembling a group of men and women to find a secret device dubbed “the handle” which can control satellites and in turn launch nuclear missiles at any target and blame them on any country the owner of the device chooses. Among the team that he assembles is Elite Spy Orson Fortune (Jason Statham) Sarah Fidel (Aubrey Plaza) tech guru, and  JJ Davis another British agent on the ground. The problem is they have a rogue agent Mike Hook who wants the device and a billionaire arms dealer Greg Simmons (Hugh Grant) and his lawyer to deal with as well. This is a fun action pact romp.

Grant’s character has a penchant for Hollywood types and he is a big fan of actor Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett). As part of the Ruse de Guerre Stathams, team recruits Harnett’s character to help them get the device back into the proper authorities’ hands. Avoiding a potential world war three. The thing is with all these characters something is bound to go wrong and it does. Mayhem and craziness ensue and it’s pretty good fun.

This movie is a globetrotting story that starts in London, England, and goes everywhere from Morocco, North Africa to Madrid, Spain, Cannes, France, Doha, Qatar, Tekidaq, Turkey, and Hollywood. All of these locations had their own unique qualities that add to the overall story and entertainment value of the movie. There were plenty of action sequences shot in some of these places as well. The action scenes for lack of a better word were fast and furious, to say the least. This movie had it all. 

One thing about Guy Richie you can’t say is he doesn’t have a sense of humor. Or that he’s not a soccer fan or in most of the world they call it futbol. There are a pair of oddball characters called Trent and Arnold which is the first and last name of Liverpool winger Trent Alexander Arnold. Coincidence, I think not. Maybe Richie is a huge Liverpool fan. I am one so that’s why I caught that little nod to my favorite soccer team from the English Premier League. 

Richie wrote the movie with Ivan Atchinson & Marn Davies. That added a lot of different elements to make this a fun action-heist comedy. Richie’s unique style and quick wit referring to the dialogue are here in spades. Especially with the Grant character. He is pretty fast and funny regarding that dialogue. Plaza and Harnett do a good job in their scenes together as well. I can see why he gets all these actors who want to line up to be in his films. They are a load of fun to be a part of. 

Lionsgate and STX Entertainment signed on as the backers of this movie for a reason. It’s a funny action heist comedy that doesn’t lose its step. It starts fast and doesn’t slow down. Richie and the writers crafted an interesting story with a MacGuffin that serves as the main plot point of the whole story and it makes sense in this world they created. The cast is fantastic with Statham doing good work and Grant, Plaza, and Hartnett being the standouts. This film has come out under the radar but it’ll be a fun time at the cinemas for anybody looking for something different this weekend.

3 ½ stars 

Dan Skop Allen

Palm Trees and Power Lines- A Cautionary Tale About Predators

Coming-of-age films come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are about boys growing up and other times they are about girls trying to find their way in the world. Palm Trees and Power Lines is about the latter. It also has an undercurrent of something sinister going on in it. This film won’t be easy for most people to watch but it’s rewarding for those that do give it a chance.

Lea (Lily McInerny) is your average seventeen-year-old girl on her summer break from high school. She hangs out with her friends drinking and smoking as teens will do. She has a relatively good relationship with her mother Sandra (Gretchen Mol) but sometimes they butt heads. One evening while hanging out at a local diner with her friends she catches the eye of a man sitting in another booth. While walking home Tom (Jonathan Tucker) pulls up and offers her a ride. Little does she know this will be the beginning of a relationship with a man twice her age.

This film is based on the short film of the same name by director and writer Jamie Dack. This material is based on a real-life experience that she encountered. It is an important subject matter for this writer and director. This disconnected teen is like a lot of girls her age. They tend to be lonely and are looking for someone who is interested in them. Whether it be their own age or not. The character played by Tucker shows her kindness and takes her places and buys her things. This is just what a teen of this ilk is looking for in a man. The problem is he is grooming her for something sinister.

Grooming is a term that applies to men who pretend to like and take care of younger girls such as teenagers and then try to pimp them out to other men who pay for sexual intercourse. This is an epidemic in Southern California where this film takes place. The porn industry is also very prevalent in this part of the country. It’s very accessible for teens who are looking for companionship and or a quick buck. It’s sad though that this happens to so many young women in this country.

The director makes California a character in the movie as well as the human characters. This part of the state seems a bit run down and it makes sense that a young girl of this age would want something better. She sees her mother in multiple relationships with men and that gets her thinking she wants this life. She is a smart girl but she doesn’t know any better than what she sees in her mother. So using her body to get forward in life is all that makes sense to her. Even though she has friends that care for her she discards them.

Lily McInerny is a new actress to me. This is the first thing I’ve ever seen her in but she holds her own against other actors who’ve been in the industry for a while now. She has a presence on screen that is beyond her years. Her performance is one that will get her noticed by other casting directors and studios. She controls all the scenes she’s in like a pro. She comes across as a teenager who is looking for a better life perfectly. Her shy nature at times plays into the character. She is a young access to watch for in the future.

Palm Trees and Power Lines is a cautionary tale about sexual predators who prey on lonely and awkward young women. This film should be a warning for parents and teens alike that if you need help there are people who care. Whether it be teachers or coaches or even friends. You need to notice if a young person is acting odd or out of character. Reach out and see if you can help them. Parents also need to notice odd behavior in teens, especially girls. McInerny is very good in this role but the script and direction from Dack is the real champion here in this little indie film.

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

We Have A Ghost Review- A Fun Horror Comedy For the Whole Family

I’m not the biggest fan of horror comedies but We Have a Ghost might be one of the funniest horror comedies I’ve seen in years. Netflix likes to throw a lot at the wall to see what sticks but this movie is one of the better original films they’ve put out in a while. It has some good family drama and a lot of funny action involving a ghost played by a popular Santa Claus who fought a bunch of home invaders in Silent Night David Harbour. 

Frank (Anthony Mackie) is a father trying to give his family a new start. So they move from Texas to Oklahoma. They buy a fixer-upper home that has a history to it. The problem is his youngest son isn’t happy with the move. That is until, while playing his guitar in their attic he notices a ghost in the mirror standing behind him. The ghost was dubbed Earnest (David Harbour) because of the name on the bowling shirt he was wearing He becomes of his friend and eventually the entire family.

The family capitalizes on Earnest being in their home. In this day and age YouTube, and tiktok videos can make a lot of money from likes and subscriptions to the channel they are on. This helps the family come together. Earnest is a fun guy to be around even though he’s a ghost. He has some hidden talents that get a huge following online. The problem is this also catches the eye of the government, namely the CIA.

What was good about this film is David Harbour never says a word. And his ability to make this character come to life is amazing. He gives a funny and very entertaining turn as this ghost who doesn’t remember where he comes from. Harbuor is known for Stranger Things as Harper and he just brings a likeability to that character, Santa Claus in Violent Night and as Earnest. He’s so hilarious in this role.

There are a couple of subplots in the movie that I love but I don’t want to spoil anything for viewers watching at home on Netflix soon. The thing that is a surprise is how amazing the visual effects are. They create a way for Harbour’s Earnest to go in and out of solid objects. Jump into cars and sometimes hold solid objects. These are some of the coolest visual effects I’ve seen. And the filmmaker Christopher Landon blends them perfectly with the real-world environment he directs.

There has been a huge influx of young actors who have come onto the scene lately and this film has another young actor who has come into his own. Jahi Di’Allo Winston as Kevin is fantastic. He came into prominence in Charm City Kings about a youth in Baltimore. He just has a look that jumps off the camera. He has an innate ability to get people to focus on him in a good way. He has a big career ahead of him but We Have a Ghost is another good one on his resume.

We Have A Ghost blends comedy with horror elements but the laughs and action scenes outway the horror elements. The cast is fantastic but once again David Harbour shines in a Netflix prperty. The real star besides Harbour is Winston who is on the rise in this business. Another amazing aspect is the visual effects involving Earnest the ghost. I loved how they blended with the live-action scenes seamlessly. Landon combines some nice family drama and comedic action scenes to make a fun February film for the whole family. 

This film is streaming on Netflix on Friday, February 24th

4 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Cocaine Bear Review- An Adrenaline-Fueled Eighties Nostalgia Trip

Animal attack films are a subgenre of the horror genre. There have been many of these types of films released over the years. Jaws, Cujo, Crawl, Anaconda, and Alligator are among the most popular of these films and the ones people consider the best ones to watch. They have a rewatchability factor as well. Cocaine Bear is the latest in this genre. It does’t add anything new to the genre but it’s still a fun wild ride of a film.

After a guy in an airplane throws a bunch of bags of drugs that include packages of cocaine in them out of the plane and it lands in Tennessee and Georgias, Okeechobee National Forest. A group of people inadvertently run a fowl of a black bear that mistakenly got into the cocaine and ended up on a drug-fueled rage in the forest. These people have to do whatever they can to avoid the bear and survive at any cost. Throw in men who are looking for the bags of coke and you have a wild ride of a film.

The film has a very good cast of actors playing all of these roles. Among them are Margo Martindale, a smart-witted park ranger, and Keri Russell, a single mother, who’s a nurse, with a daughter played by Brooklyn Prince. She and her friend, played by Christian Convery, skip school and end up in the woods. Ray Liotta, in his final role before he passed away, plays a drug dealer who is looking for the coke. He sends his son Alden Ehrenreich and O’Shea Jackson Jr. to the forest to find and return the bags of coke to him. Those are just a few of the people that make up this funny cast of characters.

The movie is set in the mid-eighties in the south so throw in these two unique things and you have a couple of aspects that bring out a lot of comedy. Namely, everybody has a southern accent and most of the characters have eighties haircuts and wear clothes from that decade. They also drive cars from those years as well. The production design added a nice element to a film that was perfectly set in this wild and fun decade. I grew up in this decade so I would know about it more than most. 

As far as animal attack films go this one isn’t the best but it’s definitely not the worst either. It has a tongue-in-cheek approach to this genre. It’s trying not to be too serious even though there are a lot of gory bloody scenes of the bear eating people and dismembering them. These scenes are relatively pretty funny most of the time. Two scenes that come to mind are when the bear attacks the park ranger and a trio of slackers in a cabin was done hilariously. And not to be outdone an action sequence when an ambulance arrives to help people mauled by the bear is one of the funniest things you’ll see all year. It is bat-shit crazy, to say the least. The bear develops some kind of super speed to run and chase down this ambulance that was trying to get away.

Elizabeth Banks is usually known as an actress but she has directed a few things. Name Pitch Perfect 2 in 2015 and the  Charlie’s Angels reboot in 2019. This is her third film under her belt and it may be the best one. That’s not saying a lot though. She infuses a lot of eighties elements with a tried and true formula of the animal attack genre and creates a relatively funny and harmless true story, well true is stretching the truth a little. This film took that to a different level. The film was still a drug-fueled nostalgia trip that brought back memories of my youth growing up in the eighties. 

Of the cast I mentioned and one I didn’t yet Margo Martindale was hilarious. She had many lines that were straight laugh out loud. Isiah Whitlock Jr. as a police detective brought his usual brand of comedy to the table. He has a deadpan style that is hard not to laugh at as well. Ray Liotta is hard to forget, as a drug dealer is good in a villain role but it’s crazy this is going to be what people remember as his last time and that’s a shame because he deserves better in that regard. This cast was pretty good considering all the factors that went into this movie. 

Cocaine Bear was what it was advertised as. A hilarious film that brought the eighties vibe of animal attack films to a whole new audience. The entire cast seemed like they were having a blast as these people who were all over their heads in this wacky zany situation. The bear attack scenes, with a CGI bear I might add, we’re all. Pretty cool and mostly funny including the cabin scene and ambulance chase. The best of the cast were Martindale and Whitlock Jr. They brought some hilarity that was desperately needed in this movie. All in all, this is a fun romp through the Georgia woods that wasn’t trying to be anything more than what it was. An eighties adrenaline-fueled nostalgia-filled animal attack film. That is all I needed in the end.

3 1/2 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Jesus Revolution Review- A Religious Message that Becomes Old and Stale

Films about religion aren’t anything new but Jesus Revolution isn’t just any film about religion. It’s a movie that deals with a religious movement and how religion can change people’s perspective about religion whether it be good or bad. The 70s were a decade of change and enlightenment but I never knew part of that was a religious movement that changed the country.

Chuck Smith (Kelsey Grammer) is a preacher in California. He has a small parish that hasn’t progressed very much. That is until his daughter brings home a vagrant that looks just like Jesus. Lonnie Frisbee (Jonathan Rounie) is his name. He is embraced by his new friends and in turn, introduces them to his friends. Who are many like himself, hippies? They help each other see the light regarding religion.

A parallel storyline focuses on a young man named Greg Laurie (Joel Courtney, The Kissing Booth Trilogy) Greg is a struggling teen who is looking for some direction and finds it when he meets a beautiful young co-ed. She helps him find a spiritual awakening by joining her and her friends. They hang out together and drink and smoke by beaches and other locations, but this isn’t enough for him. He needs something else in his life.

As someone who was a very religious child and at another point in my life I was very fascinated by this movie and the ideals it is trying to profess. As a child, I was forced to go to church every Sunday until we moved away from our catholic church in Lowell, Massachusetts we all, my entire family, stopped going. That was it for a while until in my thirties I found religion again and it was short-lived before I was sick of the fundamentalist way of thinking from the people that got me back into catholicism again. Religion isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

These characters are fascinating because of their places in society at this time in America’s past. The 70s were a tumultuous time for most people. Young people wanted to have their own voice and older people were trying to hold on to the ideals they had in the 60s and before. Somewhere along the way, these paths collide as young hippies and a straight-laced family man along with others join together to save their souls.

Jon Erwin and Brent McCorkle and others write and direct this movie with a good message that at the time seemed like it was a good thing for this country and the youth of it. The problem with the movie is it starts out good and all the main characters have good storylines, but after an hour or so the film gets old and stale. And it’s only a two-hour movie. It just doesn’t sustain that runtime. Maybe a half hour less would have been better for this film.

Jesus Revolution has some good character development and a good story for about half of its running time. The cast including veterans like Grammer and newcomers like Courtney all do a good job but it’s not a story that can sustain the length it ends up being. As far as the movement within the movie goes it’s fine. I was invested in the story for fifty percent of it until it started to become old and stale. Similar to my own experience with religion in my past.

2 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Antman and the Wasp Quantumania Review- A Big Swing for Reed & Company Results in a Home Run

The Antman films have mainly focused on family and tend to have a comedic bent to them. Paul Rudd is a comedic actor so they lend themselves to his comedic talents and others in the franchise. That being said, Antman and the Wasp Quantumania is much more of a serious film than the other installments in the franchise. The stakes are higher and Peyton Reed, the director, ramps up the story to fit those high stakes.

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is coming off of a high. He helped save the universe in Avengers Endgame and so he is capitalizing on his fame and celebrity by having written a book. Entitled “Look Out For the Little Guy”. His fortunes have turned around for him. With that lost period, when he was stuck in the subatomic level,l he lost five years of his life and his daughter Cassie, (Kathryn Newton) who was a toddler when he got stuck is now a young woman. That means he has some lost time he has to make up for with her. While he was gone she started working with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) On a device that can help them travel to the quantum realm, but Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) who spent some time down there tries to stop the experiment. but she is too late and the machine inadvertently sucks them all into the quantum realm.

This film is one of the weirdest MCU movies to date. Touched on in the other Antman films and Avengers Endgame the quantum realm is focused on in much more depth. The backstory of Janet Van Dyne is tied to this place. Her history with an individual named Kang The Conqueror  (Jonathan Majors) is also shown. This subatomic dimension is very weird though. It has a lot of strange creatures and even stranger characters. There are some humans played by William Jackson Harper, and Katy M Obrien though and they are a mix of revolutionaries and henchmen. Filmed in what is known as the volume, a giant LED screen, that can project what a computer generated onto it. So this entire quantum realm is projected on this screen. The visuals are amazing and this realm looks breathtaking. I didn’t see the film in 3D but if I had it probably would have had a better visual experience. It was still very good though. This was most of the film and it looks a bit Lovecraftian in nature.

Despite the weird nature of the quantum realm, the movie is pretty much a straightforward family film. Similar to Everything Everywhere All at Once it has a lot of strange stuff in it but that is all a disguise for the real heart of the film which is a family drama. Stuff involving Rudd and Newton’s characters is the real meat and potatoes of the story. The screenwriter Jeff Loveness also threw in some stuff involving Douglas, Pfieffer, and Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne for good measure. This franchise has always focused on the father-daughter stuff and it works even better in this the 3rd installment in the franchise. As an older teenager, Newton’s character starts to have a mind of her own and Rudd’s Lang isn”t happy about it. He’s constantly worried about her all the time. Any father in this circumstance would be in a similar situation of being a worry wart. 

Peyton Reed is the only director in the history of the MCU to successfully complete a trilogy of films. This is his third after the previous two Antman films. We’re relatively small but this seemed like a much larger undertaking. There were a bunch of sets that had to be built and a lot of moving parts as in extras and so forth. The scale is much larger than his previous two films in the trilogy. There were a lot of CGI characters who had voice-over actors like David Dasmalchian, playing them and various other things that made this film more of an undertaking for Reed. He passed this test with flying colors though. Everything in this movie was done exceptionally well. Reed may be ready for a bigger film in the MCU. Possibly Avengers Secret Wars in a couple of years. With all the weird elements this film could have gone off of the rails but it doesn’t. It succeeds with flying colors. 

One of those reasons is Jonathan Majors. He plays Kang the Conqueror as a Darth Vader Esque character. He is a dark and very sinister character. He has some one-liners that are very similar to Vader as well. Majors is an actor on the rise right now with three movies out in a period of three months and all his three roles are very similar regarding his machismo and manliness. Kang is easily one of the best villains in the MCU so far. Josh Brolin’s Thanos was very evil and had a mad vibe about him but Kang takes the cake. He is much more maleficent. Where his evil nature is just who he is as suggested by He Who Remains at the end of Loki Season 1. “If You Think I’m Bad, Wait’ll You See My Variants”. That has finally come to fruition. And it’s not good for anyone who encounters him in the quantum realm or otherwise. 

Antman and the Wasp Quantumania is the best in the franchise. It ups the ante on the previous two films in the trilogy. Reed takes what he learned from the Avengers films and applied it to this third installment. The visual effects are breathtakingly beautiful. He gets a comedic writer named Jeff Loveness to write the script and it blends some comedic moments with more dramatic moments. Yes, some of the comedy stuff breaks up the serious moments, which is most of the film. I was a fan of the family dynamic which is what this franchise is built on. That is the heart of the story despite all the wacky stuff in the movie. The cast is good but the two actors that stood out to me the most were Newton and Majors. Majors just owns his character of Kang. He becomes one of the best villains in the MCU and had plenty of moments to shine in this film. Newton is the future of the MCU with others of her ilk like Xoichitl Gomez, Dominique Thorn, and Iman Vellani. The MCU is in good hands with these young actresses. This movie is a big swing and it is a home run in my book. Of recent MCU films, this is the best I’ve seen since Spider-man No Way Home. I hope audiences will love this movie as much as I did.

4 ½ stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Getaway Review

Getaway is a short film of twenty minutes in length written and produced by Malaika Paquiot and directed by Stephanie L. Mason. It is short but packs a wallop in that runtime.  June (Melissa Kay Anderson) is a mother of a little boy Leighton (Ian Smalls Jr)) She takes him to her home country of Jamaica for a little vacation to show him where she came from. While there she introdroduces him to her cousin Grace (Kaci Hamilton) She is very close to her cousin. She is like a sister to her. While in Jamaica she gets the news of a travesty back in the states. A child has been accidentally shot by a police squad team. As a parent of a black child, this has to be one of the most devastating things for them to go through. The fact that this could be their child. Police shooting of Black men and women has become an epidemic in this country. It needs to stop but shielding a child from this violence is probably the right thing to do. It doesn’t adversely negatively affect them. The filmmaker and writer create a scenario that shows how difficult life can be for Black children or adults in this country. The actors were also very good in this short movie though. I would have liked to see a longer version of this story with more focus on what happened back in America and what the mother is doing about it in her community. Besides sheltering her son in Jamaica. 

3 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

Sharper Review- A Mystery Film that Doesn’t Con the Audience Watching at Home

Films about con men or women can be some of the most entertaining kinds of films made. Filmmakers and actors for generations have made these kinds of films some of the best. A lot of television shows have also been made about this genre. This genre has been most of the time. Sharper is the latest film about con men and women. It has many twists and turns and what seems up is indeed down. That’s why it’s such a good movie.

Sandra (Briana Middleton) is a young woman who goes into a bookstore and buys a book but she can’t pay for it. The owner of the bookstore, Tom (Justice Smith) says to come back and pay him later. She shows up just as he’s locking up and going home. They spark up a relationship with each other but it’s all part of a con to steal a valuable book Tom owns. Sandra was trained by Max (Sebastian Stan) who was in turn trained by Madrline (Julianne Moore) Together they’ve been planning cons for years. Tom is the son of the biggest con they have ever planned. That of a billionaire Richard Hobbes (John Lithgow) That’s where all the twists and turns come in.

The Director, Benjamin Caron, enlisted a great cast for this little film about a big con and the men and women who were involved in it. The writers of the screenplay Alessandro Tanaka, and Brian Gatewood have crafted a story that has a lot of moving parts to it. The stellar cast has to act out all of these parts to perfection to get the audience on board with their story. A story that is one of the best I’ve seen in a while.

The cast is filled with fantastic award-winning actors and actresses, Julianne Moore who won an Academy Award for Still Alice and John Lithgow has won a bunch of Emmys in various roles. Sebastian Stan has been making waves lately as Tommy Lee in Pam and Tommy and a serial killer who likes to eat and or sell his victim’s body parts for money in Fresh. The two actors who made the most impact on me in this film were Briana Middleton, The Tender Bar, and Justice Smith, Detective Pikachu. They’ve both been in other films before but in this they both shine. Middleton has a lot to do in her role and handles it all thoroughly and Smith is more subtle in his approach to his character but is still very effective.

The film deals with each of these four main characters individually by designating each chapter of the movie with their names. We see where these characters are in the context of the film and how they fit into the overall plot. This way of telling the story was very interesting. It allowed us as the viewers to see what the filmmaker wanted us to see but not give away the entire plot of the movie in each of these segments. I liked the way the director and writers gave just enough away to make us more intrigued by the next chapter that preceded the last.

Sharper takes the title to a whole new level. It is a sharp film with an equally sharp script and acting. Everybody involved came to play with this movie. The acting by the entire cast is stellar with Middleton and Smith as the standouts. The writing is a real treat for viewers in this film. The plot was kept very secret between each segment that preceded the next. And the direction by Caron was impeccable. He had to balance so much with each subsequent character he introduced but kept the final twist close to his vest until it was time to spring it on the viewers watching. This was a chef’s kiss of an ending my applause to everyone involved.

Sharper is on Apple TV + February 10th, 2023

4 stars

Dan Skip Allen