MA Movie Review

‘Ma’ is a moderately gripping, riveting movie with a few good jump scares but can’t quite live up to the genre that it’s labeled as. IMDB has it listed as a Horror/Thriller and the trailer sold us on the fact that this would be a terrifying movie. I generally count on a movie defined as a Horror to scare me at some point. I kept hoping for it and expecting it to come but the scares never did. ‘Ma’ was disturbing, and it was definitely macabre at times, but it wasn’t a horror film. Trust me… if you go in with lower expectations, you’ll enjoy it a lot more. That said, the characters are well defined and Ma, or Sue Ann, played on the nose by Octavia Spencer, is incredibly creepy with a cold stare that will send chills up and down your spine. She plays her as a warm, concerning woman who’s a friend to everyone she comes across but as the story unfolds, she changes. It isn’t long before the veneer falls away and her real temperament comes through.

After moving to her mother Erica’s (Juliette Lewis) hometown, high school student Maggie (Diana Silvers) almost instantaneously hooks up and becomes friends with a group of kids from class. She’s a nice girl, innocent, but decides to go out to the rock quarry to drink with her new pals. With her mom working nights at the casino, what else is there to do? What they like to do is go to a liquor store and attempt to talk an adult into going in and, for a small fee, purchasing something alcoholic for them to drink. It isn’t going too well until Sue Ann walks up. She tells them no, too, at first but then she obliges, and they love her for it. While they’re drinking, she calls the police and tells them she saw some kids drinking at the quarry. She does this for a reason. Next time they want to party, they’ll have to find a safe destination with which to drink. Her basement perhaps? She offers it to them the next time she sees them. They agree and now she’s in. They’re her friends. When they’re in her home, she has influence over them, gets on their good side and she can do other FUN things.

As we get to know her better, we also get to know the kids and their parents’ stories. Turns out, the parents of these very students went to school with Sue Ann. She knew them quite well and they weren’t very nice to her either. Several of these plot points get a bit sloppy but if you don’t look at the script under a microscope, the development of the narrative could be considered intriguing enough to keep you interested in its outcome. Once you learn Sue Ann or Ma has a history with the parents of the teenage partygoers, the movie has a ‘Carrie’ vibe to it. If it had been bolder and gone darker, it would have pleased horror film fans more but as it is, director Tate Taylor (The Girl on the Train, The Help) takes you only so far before pulling back and ultimately leaving you wanting more. With his resume, this surprised me.
Anyway, ‘Ma’ is the kind of movie I can recommend you see but keep in mind that if you’re a veteran horror fan and want to check this out, seeing this at a matinee might be the best way to spend your time.


Angel Has Fallen

Directed by:
Ric Roman Waugh
Starring: Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lance Reddick, Tim Blake Nelson, Piper Perabo, with Nick Nolte, and Danny Huston

When there is an assassination attempt on U.S. President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), his trusted confidant, Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), is wrongfully accused and taken into custody. After escaping from capture, he becomes a man on the run and must evade his own agency and outsmart the FBI in order to find the real threat to the President. Desperate to uncover the truth, Banning turns to unlikely allies to help clear his name, keep his family from harm and save the country from imminent danger.

Screenplay by Robert Mark Kamen and Matt Cook & Ric Roman Waugh, story by Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt, and based on characters created by Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt

In Theaters August 23rd

IT CHAPTER TWO – Official Teaser Trailer

Evil resurfaces in Derry as director Andy Muschietti reunites the Losers Club—young and adult—in a return to where it all began with “It Chapter Two.” The film is Muschietti’s follow-up to 2017’s critically acclaimed and massive worldwide box office hit “IT,” which grossed over $700 million globally. Both redefining and transcending the genre, “IT” became part of the cultural zeitgeist as well as the highest-grossing horror film of all time.

Because every 27 years evil revisits the town of Derry, Maine, “It Chapter Two” brings the characters—who’ve long since gone their separate ways—back together as adults, nearly three decades after the events of the first film.

Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “Mama”) stars as Beverly, James McAvoy (“Split,” upcoming “Glass”) as Bill, Bill Hader (HBO’s “Barry,” “The Skeleton Twins”) as Richie, Isaiah Mustafa (TV’s “Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments”) as Mike, Jay Ryan (TV’s “Mary Kills People”) as Ben, James Ransone (HBO’s “The Wire”) as Eddie, and Andy Bean (“Allegiant,” Starz’ “Power”) as Stanley. Reprising their roles as the original members of the Losers Club are Jaeden Martell as Bill, Wyatt Oleff as Stanley, Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie, Finn Wolfhard as Richie, Sophia Lillis as Beverly, Chosen Jacobs as Mike, and Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben. Bill Skarsgård returns in the seminal role of Pennywise.





In Theaters September 6th

Silencio Movie Review

I’ll start the review of ‘Silencio’ with a bit of a lesson. Something that’ll help you while watching. The Chihuahuan Desert is an ecoregion with a small peculiar feature that receives regular solar radiation. It covers parts of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States, about 400 miles from El Paso, Texas. It’s important to know that information going in because, for some reason, within the northern part of the Chihuahuan desert, in Mexico, is a section that baffles the mind and perplexes science. It’s called the ‘Zone of Silence.’ Within this zone, radio signals won’t go through, compasses won’t work properly, essentially, any and all radio equipment fails. Peculiar indeed. It’s said in the film that the oddly magnetic area is between the 26th and 28th parallel, the same line that runs through the Bermuda Triangle, in fact. This is a great subject for a cryptic film so writer/director, Lorena Villarreal, takes a stab at the theme.

Since the area has so many anomalies, her twist is to use it as a story that centers around the mystic, supernatural and spiritual. We start in 1970 where a scientist, James (Noble), is analyzing the crash site of a missile that went down in the Zone of Silence. While doing so, he and his assistant Peter discover analyze a radioactively charged rock. Being young, Peter can’t help but do the stupid thing and try to touch the darn thing. He’s cautioned not to but then James touches it. So much for being the smart one, right? Seems it’s okay that he did because after he touches it, there’s an explosion which sends them back to an earlier point in his life. No. He isn’t given the opportunity to be young again and get stock in Google or anything. They journey to the recent past, to a point in time where he’s given the opportunity to save his granddaughter from dying in a car crash. He hugs her when he sees her and says that he’s happy to have her, ‘…back again.’

He’s with her when the car that crashed into his entire family originally still hits the car. Despite his trying to warn them, the rest of his family perishes. At least he has Ana.

We move to the future. James’ mind has taken a turn for the worse but is taken care of by Ana and a nurse. We deduce that the female lead is Ana, (Matthews), grown up by a photo on her desk. She’s now a therapist. In her office, she converses with a gentleman named Daniel (Chauvet) who tells her that he not only sees dead people but that he’s seeing one linked to her. She was never completely convinced he had the gift until he says that there’s one standing next to her with a message this very moment. The message he gives her is from her sister Lisa (one of the unfortunate victims of the car accident). Through this message, we learn that she cares for her sister’s health, warning that she’s in danger. She can wake up her grandfather’s mind and in so doing, they can find the stone that James buried. It’s said that it’s the anniversary of their death, so these revelations are connected, you’ll assume. She does this crazy thing Lisa tells her to do. She says ‘three’ three times and he snaps back. Okay. He must not be fully back because  he’s unable to find the stone. Then, someone else is after it and the story starts to lose your interest. It’s not a mystery as to who would want the stone or who would have knowledge of its powers. There’s a kidnapping of Ana’s little boy, Felix. This happens because he absolutely refuses to hush when it’s the most important moment in his life to do so. The boy is taken, and the child will be returned in good condition upon the appearance of what they require. Ana now has a life or death race for a rock.

The plot gets somewhat ridiculous. Not only the plot but the acting is contrived. John Noble, who I usually find spot on, exaggerates his illness, anger, confusion or any other emotion he has, to the point of being irritating. That said, Melina Matthews does the exact opposite, giving a performance worth getting her attention. The script, however, wants to mix science with the spiritual and with love. With this spiritual narrative, as typically with real life, this is a tangled road to maneuver, difficult to get and keep everyone on board.

‘Silencio,’ is on VOD and DVD May 14 from Uncork’d Entertainment.

El Chicano Movie Review

“El Chicano” is a dark and gritty view into a Hispanic gang-run neighborhood, with an emphasis on the ‘hood’. It relates the legend of a mysterious motorcycle-riding vigilante called El Chicano. He attacks the criminals and gang-bangers and brings them to justice. He is kind of a Ghetto Ghost Rider, without the flaming skull. The drug-infested East Los Angeles area is like “Mean Streets” with Salsa beats. El Chicano targets the drug pushers and killers, the bangers and cartel leaders. He takes a magical Aztec knife and uses it to kill the baddest of the bad. He becomes a boogie man for the criminal underclass, a type of “Usual Suspects” character ‘Keyser Soze’ of the Barrio.

Three young boys grow up in the East Los area, and one night they see El Chicano in action. A local gang leader is stabbed, and the roar of the black motorcycle is heard screeching away. A local cop named Gomez is on the scene quickly, but El Chicano is gone. The young boys are grown up twenty years later, and each has gone separate ways.  Detective Diego Hernandez (Raúl Castillo) is now on the right side of the law. But his twin brother Pedro has served time in prison, and now is dead. The other childhood friend is a top-level gang leader named Shotgun (David Castañeda). Most of Shotgun’s crew of thugs has been killed in a mass slaughter. Detective Hernandez is handed the case with his new partner Detective Martinez (Jose Pablo Cantillo). They have a day to determine what is going on, because the FBI is hot on the trail of a cartel boss. The cartel is trying to get into the Barrio, and the killings might be related. However, Diego Hernandez is worried, because all the murdered thugs have a tattoo.

This odd tattoo is the old nickname of Diego Hernandez’s twin brother Pedro, and the tattoo also has their birthday. How is his dead brother related in any way to the thugs that worked for Shotgun, and is this related to the cartel?  Detective Hernandez and Detective Martinez transport the lone survivor of the killings, until they are ambushed. The last survivor is killed, and all ties to crime lord Shotgun are gone. The two Detectives report to their boss, Captain Gomez (George Lopez). The street cop from years ago is now the Police top dog. He is working to keep the FBI away, but the heat is rising. Detective Hernandez and Detective Martinez are in the middle of a stakeout to watch Shotgun and the cartel guys. But there is more violence and murder, but this time it is not aimed at a thug in the back seat.

Detective Diego Hernandez has lost a brother, and now he has lost a partner. He investigates what his brother Pedro had done when he got out of prison. He finds a secret hideaway that contains the black motorcycle that he last saw as a kid. Back then it was being ridden by El Chicano when he eliminated many bad guys. Diego is tired of having the gangs and the cartels win the street battles. So, he trains and gets in shape, so that he can carry the magical Aztec knife and go after the evil thugs. He gets his black cape and death-skull face mask. He will be ready to take back the streets as the mystical magical El Chicano. The cartel guys and Shotgun are now on the run from the avenging force of “El Chicano”…

This “El Chicano” movie has a lot going for it. There is a street-wise feel to the scenes and the story is built up organically. Diego has a slow transformation into the El Chicano character, and it feel real and earned. The moves of El Chicano when attacks and fights several thug henchman at once are swift and brutal. He would make “John Wick” proud. The movie is seeped in the Hispanic culture of respect for the dead, and ‘El Chicano’ is seen as an avenging angel. He is ready to force retribution on the cartel and drug lords. He is there to take back the streets.

There are a few times when it seems to be a low-budget movie. But for the most part, it gets the same milage for action and fight scenes as the big budget movies. The acting is low-key and many of the extras look like they come ‘Straight Outta East Los’. The cast is pretty good, but basically unknown. Only George Lopez has a high profile background. Co-writer Joe Carnahan has done some really good stuff in the past, and his efforts are well used in this script. The overall quality of this movie is very watchable, even when it did not have the richest budget.

The Perfection Trailer

The most buzzed-about movie at last year’s Fantastic Fest, THE PERFECTION is an elegant and terrifying suspense ride filled with unexpected twists and turns. When troubled musical prodigy Charlotte (Allison Williams) seeks out Elizabeth (Logan Browning), the new star pupil of her former school, the encounter sends both musicians down a sinister path with shocking consequences.

Overflowing with dizzying horror and sly dark humor, THE PERFECTION is directed by Richard Shepard (THE MATADOR, DOM HEMINGWAY, “Girls”), and written by Eric C. Charmelo, Nicole Snyder and Richard Shepard. The film will be released globally on Netflix Friday, May 24, 2019.

DIRECTOR | Richard Shepard

WRITERS | Richard Shepard, Eric Charmelo & Nicole Snyder

PRODUCER | Bill Block, Stacey Reiss, Richard Shepard

CAST | Allison Williams, Logan Browning, Steven Weber and Alaina Huffman 

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I went in to ‘Pet Sematary’ thinking, ‘Why?’ Why does Hollywood insist on the remakes? I enjoyed the original film. Can’t we just leave it alone? I went into the new movie thinking this couldn’t touch it, let alone top it. It was as simple as that. I even defiantly crossed my arms. However, after such feelings of reluctance and misgivings, I’m happy to report that I was fairly impressed. I’m embarrassed about my skepticism. The film’s new directing team of Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer did a remarkable job of creating for their audience a sense of tension and unease which has everyone immediately on edge. You are not sitting back to relax until it’s time to stand up and leave the theatre. What the filmmakers do here is grant you access into the lives of Louis (Clarke) and his family, knowing full well you’ll get to know them, care for them and fall for them… especially their adorable children. You’ll fear for what they’re about to go through. This is used marvelously. If you’re as reluctant as I was, another reason to drop your concerns over ‘Pet Sematary’ is that the script doesn’t exactly follow the original writing or the first film. The application of a few new angles improves it in ways that are tangible.

When the film starts, we see the family car covered with bloody handprints. A sort of whiff of what’s to come for this sweet, unsuspecting family as they settle into their new home after moving from Boston to Maine is in the air. The implication of that handprint is significant in setting up for you that someone is in serious trouble. In all seriousness, this gets spooky! There are plenty of ‘jump scares’ so hide your eyes! Be prepared. 

What I also relished in was the comical manner with which they told their narrative, how they made this family more approachable and relatable, especially facing the most hair-raising moments is delicious. You can tell that Kölsch and Widmyer had a lot of fun with making this.

The family cat, Church, gets hit by a car and dies. With the help of their friendly neighbor Jud (Lithgow), Louis is able to resurrect the cat for his beloved daughter Ellie, played expertly by the young Jeté Laurence, who Jud has also grown very fond of. Where they bury the loveable kitty is on the other side of the pet sematary, so spelled because it’s where children in the area bury their pets when they pass on. Jud knows from experience why they shouldn’t be doing this but has confidence this time that it’ll work out fine. Best laid plans and all. By this time, Louis and his wife, Rachel (Seimetz) have started having distressing visions but they increase after this and the film intensifies.

The cinematography gloriously sets the tone that keeps you engaged, and I can’t say enough about the inventive editing. If you didn’t see the original, you won’t miss a big change in the plot which was an essential twist for the directors to make this their own. As you get more familiar with the family, there’s also a storyline involving Rachel’s sister. This is excellent because this is where the movie begins to address death. It’s dealt with harmoniously, even though Louis and Rachel differ on life after death. Where all of this leads is horrific and unsettling… terrifying. If you’re a fan of horror, this was respectably creepy and spine-chilling. If you’re a fan of Stephen King, you won’t be disappointed.




PET SEMATARY Final Trailer!

PET SEMATARY is in theatres Thursday


Based on the seminal horror novel by Stephen King, Pet Sematary follows Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), who, after relocating with his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and their two young children from Boston to rural Maine, discovers a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near the family’s new home. When tragedy strikes, Louis turns to his unusual neighbor, Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), setting off a perilous chain reaction that unleashes an unfathomable evil with horrific consequences.


Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer


Stephen King


Matt Greenberg


Jeff Buhler


Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, Jeté Laurence, Hugo & Lucas Lavoie and John Lithgow

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In Theaters April 5th


John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

In this third installment of the adrenaline-fueled action franchise, super-assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returns with a $14 million price tag on his head and an army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail. After killing a member of the shadowy international assassin’s guild, the High Table, John Wick is excommunicado, but the world’s most ruthless hit men and women await his every turn.
Summit Entertainment presents a Thunder Road Films production, in association with 87Eleven Productions.

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Laurence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Asia Kate Dillon, Lance Reddick, Saïd Taghmaoui, Jerome Flynn, Jason Mantzoukas, Tobias Segal, Boban Marjanovic, with Anjelica Huston, and Ian McShane.
Directed by:  Chad Stahelski

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In Theaters May 17

The Hummingbird Project (2018) Movie Review

‘The Hummingbird Project’ just has to based on a true story. It must have really happened. The setup, the punch, the end result. It has a name attached and everything! It’s real! That’s my story and I’m sticking– what?! It isn’t real?! Impossible. This felt so much like true events that I searched for information on its characters, hoping I’d find out more about them. But I was fooled. From what’s going on in the world today, plus such vivid details in the film, it felt like every bit of this happened in a story already forgotten amongst all the rest of how to get more money for ourselves and how to get it faster than anyone else. Oh, and of course, without regard to anyone or anything. Sure, the telling of two men managing to make digital information move faster, between the Kansas Electronic Exchange and New York Stock Exchange, than anyone else can seem exciting, but I assure you, it’s quite banal. The characters are not, however, which is why I can’t say this is one to skip.

Director Kim Nguyen uncovers for his audience how cutthroat a business the digital world has become. Vincent (Eisenberg) and Anton (Skarsgård) are cousins working in New York. They have a shared dream of building a line of fiber-optic cable from Kansas to New Jersey that would beat out the competition and give everyone using it a leg up on everyone else as far as digital information is concerned. Every millisecond counts, after all. If this procedure goes well, they will make millions. They’re the perfect team to get this done… on paper. They can talk a good game and do have the smarts but are impractical, even farcical when it comes to executing their own proposal. Vincent is a fast talker who’s, well, very much like Jesse Eisenberg but Anton is quite different. That difference is the story and, comparatively, quite appealing.

Vincent talks people out of their money to help the pair advance in their business. That’s what he does best. With the other side of his mouth, he can communicate to another person he’s taking advantage of, that if they help him, it’ll benefit them. It’s for the best if they give Vincent a piece of their property to dig under. Sure he may have to part with a few bucks, but in the end, Vincent comes out on top.

He too good at getting them everything they want that you know it’s too good to be true. Yep. He suddenly falls ill… leaving Anton. Anton is a special nerd who isn’t good on his own. He’s not the hustler Vincent is and when pressured tends to break down. They’re an unreliable team but if it wasn’t for their old boss, Eva Torres (Hayek), trying to stop them at every turn, they’d have gotten a lot further.

Eva is the powerful and manipulative trader at the top who lost Vincent and Anton as employees but will not lose her speed to them. What it comes down to is, they’re in way over their heads. Once they found out Eva was tipped off to what they were doing, maybe they should have gotten out of the pool.        

Skarsgård was fantastic in this. He was comedic yet, simply… strange. This character is unlike anything he’s done before which is always a plus for any actor and certainly his audience. Eisenberg was incredible. I’ve yet to see him in anything I didn’t love him in. Here his performance is stirring and powerful. He nails the role every single time. And Hayek was strong in the devious, scheming administrative role that usually goes to a man. The film these actors were in together wasn’t quite as good as they were in their roles, but it was thought-provoking at times and an insanely deep ride to be on. Though it isn’t all that exciting, it does move at a pace that will keep you involved in the story to see it all play out. As I’ve stated though, it’s the list of well-chosen actors that will make you have to stay and see what would keep a man with stomach cancer from giving up his optic dreams. His idea is absurd. The logic behind it makes no sense. What’s a millisecond right? Thing is, apparently, to the stock market, it’s everything. 

This film will be opening at Harkins Shea 14 this Friday, March 22nd.