New Releases for the Week of March 6, 2020


ONWARD

(Disney/Pixar) Starring the voices of Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Tracey Ullman, Wilmer Valderrama, Ali Wong. Directed by Dan Scanlon

In what Disney describes as a “suburban fantasy world,” two teenage elf brothers go on a quest to complete a spell that will allow them to reunite with their deceased father. The problem is that the spell will expire in 24 hours and they will lose the chance forever if they don’t complete it in time.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website
Genre: Animated Feature
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: PG (for action/peril and some mild thematic elements)

Baaghi 3

(Fox Star) Tiger Shroff, Shraddha Kapoor, Ritesh Deshmukh, Jameel Khoury. A man whose brother has been brutally kidnapped by jihadists goes on a bloody rampage to get his brother home safely, even if it means he must single-handedly take on an entire nation.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Action
Now Playing: AMC West Oaks, Amstar Lake Mary, Cinemark Universal Citywalk, Touchstar Southchase
Rating: NR

The Banker

(Apple+) Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult, Nia Long. The true story of two African-American entrepreneurs who buy a bank using a working-class white man as a front, to serve the African-American community and help them achieve the American dream. Their success brings the scrutiny of the federal government.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Biographical Drama
Now Playing: Barnstorm Theater
Rating: PG-13 (some strong language including a sexual reference and racial epithets, and smoking throughout)

Beneath Us

(Vital) Lynn Collins, James Tupper, Rigo Sanchez, Roberto “Sanz” Sanchez. A group of undocumented workers get a job working for a privileged white couple. The job turns into a nightmare when they are brutalized by the couple, but the men fight back.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, Regal The Loop, Regal Waterford Lakes, Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: R (for violence, language and some nudity)

Final Kill

(Cinedigm) Billy Zane, Randy Couture, Ed Morrone, Danny Trejo. A mercenary takes one last mission: to protect a family hiding out in Central America from a crime cartel. However, the job proves to be far more complicated than it seemed and it will take all of the merc’s skills and experience to get himself and his charges out alive.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Action
Now Playing: Barnstorm Theater
Rating: NR

Greed

(Sony Classics) Steve Coogan, Isla Fisher, David Mitchell, Shirley Henderson. A retail billionaire, the very face of conspicuous consumption, decides to plan a spectacular 60th birthday party for himself on the Greek island of Mykonos.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Comedy
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Avenue 16 Melbourne, AMC Disney Springs, Epic Theaters of Clermont, Old Mill Playhouse, Regal Pointe Orlando, Regal The Loop, Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: R (for pervasive language and drug use)

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band

(Magnolia) Robbie Robertson, Levi Helm, Martin Scorsese, Bruce Springsteen. The story of one of the most revered and influential bands of the Sixties, who backed up Dylan on some of his seminal albums and who made timeless hits of their own before falling apart.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Music Biography
Now Playing: Enzian Theater
Rating: R (for some language and drug references)

Ordinary Love

(Bleecker Street) Liam Neeson, Lesley Manville, Amit Shah, David Wilmot. A fiercely loving couple entering their golden years face their greatest challenge together when the wife is diagnosed with breast cancer.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Romance
Now Playing: Barnstorm Theater, Regal Winter Park Village
Rating: R (for brief sexuality/nudity)

The Way Back

(Warner Brothers) Ben Affleck, Al Madrigal, Michaela Watkins, Glynn Turman. A one-time high school basketball phenom who had a chance to attend a major college and eventually go pro instead walks away from the game, a decision he comes to regret. Years later, he gets a chance at redemption when he is hired to coach the basketball team at his alma mater.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Sports Drama
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: R (for language throughout including some sexual references)

ALSO OPENING IN ORLANDO/DAYTONA:

Foxtrot Six
Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal
Mayabazaar 2016

ALSO OPENING IN MIAMI/FT. LAUDERDALE/KEY WEST:

And Then We Danced
Balloon
Foxtrot Six
The Jesus Rolls
Mayabazaar 2016
Only
Trance

ALSO OPENING IN TAMPA/ST. PETERSBURG/SARASOTA:

Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal
Mayabazaar 2016

ALSO OPENING IN JACKSONVILLE/ST. AUGUSTINE:

Mayabazaar 2016
Where There is Darkness

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Greed
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band
Onward
Ordinary Love
The Way Back

FILM FESTIVALS TAKING PLACE IN FLORIDA:

Jewish Film Festival, Boca Raton, FL
Miami Film Festival, Miami FL
Through Women’s Eyes International Film Festival, Sarasota FL

The Tale of Despereaux


The Tale of Despereaux

Brave Despereaux prepares to leap into the unknown.

(Universal) Starring the voices of Matthew Broderick, Dustin Hoffman, Robbie Coltrane, Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Kline, Emma Watson, Tracey Ullman, William H. Macy, Stanley Tucci, Ciaran Hinds. Directed by Sam Fell and Rob Stevenhagen

It is far easier to judge someone on the way they look than on the way they act. It is also not uncommon for people of smaller stature to be overlooked. Still, it’s not the size of the mouse in the fight but the size of the fight in the mouse.

The kingdom of Dor is a wonderful, magical place ruled by a king and queen who are kind and generous. The best thing about Dor, however, is its soup. Chef Andre (Kline) is a genius, concocting new and wondrous creations that are famous far and wide. At the annual spring festival, Andre debuts a new creation that is shared by every citizen. Roscuro (Hoffman) is a shipboard rat with a taste for the good life. Curious about this wonderful soup, he hangs out at the ceremony in which the soup is tasted for the first time by the King and Queen. Unfortunately, Roscuro sets into motion events that cause tragedy for the kingdom and will cause an animosity between humans and rats that is so severe that the very sunshine is taken from Dor, leaving it drab and grey.

Into this world is born Despereaux Tilling (Broderick), a mouse half the size of his peers but with gigantic ears that more than make up for his lack of height. His parents and teachers do their best to teach Despereaux to be timid and fearful, survival instincts for every mouse. He reads stories of brave and noble knights and longs to be like them.

His refusal to adhere to mouse behavior and to actually contact a human – and not just any human, the sad and deluded Princess Pea (Watson) herself – leads to his exile. Once away from the mouse city he makes his way to the rat city where he befriends Roscuro. Despereaux’s quest to save the Princess inspires Roscuro, but her rejection of him leads him on a road of destruction and rage that may ultimately cause further catastrophe.

What is most intriguing about this movie is not so much the story which is pedestrian (although based on four Newberry Award-winning books by Kate DiCamillo) but the animation which is very different than what we are getting. It looks like an illustration come to life but with a life-like quality, particularly to the mice and rats. There is a rich detail in the animation that stacks up nicely to some of the better work of Pixar; indeed, this is some of the most complex, detailed animation ever seen.

There is some very good vocal work. Hoffman channels Ratso Rizzo in his performance and you get the impression that he was having a great time. Ullman also has some great moments as a scullery maid who dreams of being a princess and plays an important role in Roscuro’s revenge. There is also solid work from Broderick, Kline, Hinds as a scheming rat, Tucci as a magical being who assists Chef Andre and Weaver as the film’s narrator.

There is definitely a sense that this is meant for smaller children than larger ones, but there is so much heart in the movie that it’s easy to overlook that focus. There are moments of humor that are offbeat and surprising enough adults may wind up appreciating more than their tykes. However, one of the things I found most enchanting was the worlds of the rats and mice that are created – each with a distinctive look that thoughtfully echoes the philosophy of each race.

Once upon a time, magic and charm was enough for a movie to get by. These days we seem to look for a lot more. Granted, something like Up or Wall-E deserve more critical acclaim because they take chances with their stories that The Tale of Despereaux simply doesn’t take, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a good movie. This is a movie that does the heart good and leaves you with a warm feeling not unlike a batch of cookies fresh from the oven baked by someone who loves you.

WHY RENT THIS: This is a movie that is breezy and full of heart with an offbeat sense of humor that adults may like as well. Some superb vocal acting, particularly from Hoffman, Ullman and Coltrane.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: The animation is more like a painting than what animated features are doing right now; this might be off-putting to some less adventurous kids. The movie is a bit heavy on the fluff and light on the substance.

FAMILY VALUES: Some scenes of jeopardy but nothing any child can’t handle.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Despereaux was originally to be voiced by Justin Long until the producers settled on Matthew Broderick.

NOTABLE DVD EXTRAS: There is an interactive map of the Kingdom of Dor that allows for descriptions of characters and places, an amusing featurette called Ten Uses for Oversized Ears and a pair of interactive games on the DVD. There is also a card creator on the Blu-Ray edition.

FINAL RATING: 7/10

TOMORROW: The Death of Mr. Lazarescu