Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Red Sparrow

Director Francis Lawrence’s Red Sparrow is a tough, often harrowing, espionage thriller.

Jennifer Lawrence plays Dominika Egorova, a noted Russianballet dancer, who is purposely injured by a fellow dancer.  Her career at an end and needing to keep her home and funding for her ill mother (Joely Richardson), Dominika comes under the thumb of her uncle Vanya (Matthias Schoenaerts), a higher up in the Russian spy network, and is eventually sent to a secret school for training in seduction and killing.

The script by Writer Justin Haythe has some brilliant twists and turns as Dominika tries to maintain some sense of self and survive a life she does not want.

Lawrence is backed up by a fabulous team of actors, including Jeremy Irons, Joel Egerton, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker and Clarán Hinds.

An acting teacher I know claims that an actor is not truly an actor until he/she performs in the nude because one has to learn it’s not about them, but the part they are playing.  In Red Sparrow Jennifer Lawrence becomes a true actor.  Enough said.

Note that this film is not for the squeamish as there are no holds barred in some vivid scenes of violence.  However, if you are of sterner stuff, it’s well worth the view.

I give Red Sparrow a 4.2 out of 5.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Game Night

Armed with Writer Mark Perez’s witty and hilarious script, Co-Directors John Francis Daly and Jonathan Goldstein have created a delightful film experience with Game Night.

Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) are brilliant at Trivia and Charade- type games and host regular game nights with their friends Michele (Kylie Bundury) and Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and whoever he is currently dating, which eventually includes Sarah (Sharon Horgan).  

When Max’s older brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) comes to town, he invites the group to his rental mansion for a “game of games” that is to include a fake kidnapping. 

But, unbeknownst to the group, Brooks has run afoul of a criminal known as the Bulgarian and is kidnapped in front of them.

What follows is a hysterical romp, once the group realizes the kidnapping was real and tries to rescue him.
If you want to have fun at the movies, then Game Night is for you.  I give it a 4.2 out of 5.

Saturday, February 24, 2018


Writer/Director Alex Garland’s Annihilation is a slow-moving, but spooky science-fiction story that operates smoothly until the stupid, sell-out ending that annihilates the experience.

The story unfolds in reverse as biologist Lena (Natalie Portman) is questioned by Lomax (Benedict Wong) about her experience in a strange, expanding area called The Shimmer that appeared off the coast more than a year prior.  No one who has entered it has ever returned until Lena’s husband (Oscar Isaacs) suddenly reappears after a year’s absence, but is dying. 

Lena joins four other women of science (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gena Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny and Tessa Thompson) as they enter The Shimmer to find out what happened to all those who’ve disappeared.

The world they find is an unearthly fantasy land only populated by a few ferocious beasts.  One by one, the women are annihilated with Lena as the only survivor once she defeats the alien, who had created The Shimmer and tried to become Lena’s clone.

That’s all good and well done.  Unfortunately, however, we discover Lena’s husband is really an alien clone, who has gotten healthy on her return.  Still all good until the last scene, when Lena goes to see him and, instead of killing the future annihilator, embraces him, destroying her kick-ass performance and putting the Earth at risk.

If you follow my reviews, you know I never reveal the plot unless it really sucks or really pisses me off.  I’m still pissing after viewing Annihilation and what could have been a 4 out of 5, becomes a 2 out of 5.