Movie Review

Posted August 16, 2019 at 12:00 am

Fast &Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

Universal

Two longtime antagonists, a retired American law-enforcement official (Dwayne Johnson) and a British military veteran (Jason Statham), are forced to work together after the latter’s estranged sister (Vanessa Kirby), an intelligence operative, is wrongly accused of stealing a bioweapon with the potential to wipe out a whole swath of the world’s population. The virus was developed by a secretive organization intent on killing off the weak and enhancing survivors  as they have already done with the seemingly unstoppable cyber-soldier (Idris Elba) they dispatch to retrieve the toxin. Barbs are traded, vehicles are raced and both fists and bullets fly in director David Leitch’s stand-alone addition to the popular action franchise. But the absence of gore, together with an implicitly pro-life message and themes of family unity and forgiveness, make this rowdy globetrotting chase acceptable for most grown viewers.

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    A scene from “The Lion King.” CNS photo/Disney

    The Lion King  

    Disney  

    Director Jon Favreau’s remake of the 1994 animated musical uses a blend of live-action techniques and computer-generated imagery to tell the story of a lovable young lion (voice of Donald Glover) with a royal destiny. While his birth is greeted with joy by most of the animals over whom his parents (voices of James Earl Jones and Alfre Woodard) benevolently rule, the evil uncle (voice of Chiwetel Ejiofor) the young prince replaces

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    Movie Reviews

    Anna

    Summit

    This stylish, seat-of-your-pants thriller, written and directed by Luc Besson, reinvigorates the spy drama with more twists and turns than a roller coaster. In 1985 Russia, a young woman (Sacha Luss) is recruited by a KGB. agent (Luke Evans) to join the ranks under the tutelage of a crusty former spy (Helen Mirren). Working undercover as a fashion model in Paris, she meets a CIA operative (Cillian Murphy) who convinces her to turn double agent to win her freedom. Though clever and highly entertaining, the film is strictly for discerning adult viewers, given its

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    Movie Reviews

    Emanuel

    Arbella

    Chronicling the events of June 17, 2015, when a gunman opened fire during a Bible study being conducted at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, this moving documentary celebrates the lives of the victims as well as the love and forgiveness demonstrated by the survivors and family members toward the perpetrator. Filmmaker Brian Ivie focuses not on the racial hatred that motivated the shootings, but on the faith-filled response of the people most affected by the tragedy. The movie gives hope that acts of love and forgiveness can pave the

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    Movie Reviews

    Booksmart

    Annapurna

    The high school romance film gets a radical makeover by director Olivia Wilde who upends the traditional boy-meets-girl love story, emptying a veritable Pandora’s box of teenage unmentionables onto the big screen. On the night before their high school graduation, two best friends (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) decide to discover what they have missed out by being serious overachieving students. They go on an all-night bender, taking in three wild parties where, literally, anything goes: lesbian sex, masturbation, drug use, drinking, and filthy language, to name a few. The film is totally out-of-bounds

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    Movie Reviews

    Aladdin

    Disney

    Spirited live-action remake of the 1992 animated feature in which the street lad of the title (Mena Massoud) is aided by a genie (Will Smith) both in his seemingly hopeless pursuit of the princess (Naomi Scott) for whom he’s fallen and in thwarting the evil schemes of her father the sultan’s (Navid Negahban) chief adviser (Marwan Kenzari). Exuberant and lavish, director and co-writer Guy Ritchie’s musical fantasy will have viewers rooting for its underdog hero, savoring the gentle romance in which he engages and appreciating messages about humility, honesty, self-sacrificing friendship and the equal

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    Movie Review

    The Intruder

    Screen Gems

    A routine thriller for most of its running time, director Deon Taylor’s film becomes increasingly trashy before ending with the justification of a profoundly immoral act in which viewers are meant to revel. A prosperous San Francisco couple (Michael Ealy and Meagan Good) plan to move to the Napa Valley and start a family. But the creepy owner (Dennis Quaid) of the charming, ivy-covered home they buy has not reconciled himself to relinquishing it and keeps turning up uninvited. In a performance that ranges from intense to over-the-top, Quaid grimaces and smolders

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    Movie Reviews

    Avengers: Endgame

    Disney

    Primarily set five years after a cosmic villain (Josh Brolin) used a set of energy-endowed gems to wipe out half of all the living creatures in the universe, this sweeping Marvel Comics-based epic charts the efforts of the titular ensemble to harness time travel via Ant Man’s (Paul Rudd) quantum realm to undo the catastrophe. To achieve this, they need to win over tech whiz Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the only person who can safely engineer such a cutting-edge feat. But he’s reluctant to endanger his happy home life

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    Movie Reviews

    The Beach Bum

    Neon

    Relentlessly immoral and annoying comedy follows the exploits of a boorish hedonist (Matthew McConaughey) who is also, supposedly, a gifted writer as he pursues a Bohemian lifestyle in the Florida Keys. His rich wife (Isla Fisher) supports his antics even as she carries on an affair with one of his closest friends (Snoop Dogg), a high-profile rapper. His literary agent (Jonah Hill), exasperated by his failure to produce any new work, is less tolerant of his foibles as, too, is his somewhat straitlaced daughter (Stefania LaVie Owen). Drunk, stoned and on the

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    Movie Reviews

    Captive State

    Focus

    Drab sci-fi drama in which, nine years after humanity surrendered the earth to invading aliens, a young Chicago man (Ashton Sanders) gets caught up in a conspiracy to rebel against them. He and the other plotters are tracked by a local police official (John Goodman) whose ultimate allegiance in the struggle is unclear. Director and co-writer Rupert Wyatt sets out to tell a thoughtful, complex story, and his film, which also features Jonathan Majors, Vera Farmiga and Colson Baker, aka rapper Machine Gun Kelly, does engage more interest as the interlocking elements

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    Movie Reviews

    Captain Marvel

    Disney

    Lavish origin story finds the superhero of the title (Brie Larson) faithfully serving the alien civilization that trained her as a warrior in its struggle against the encroachments of a race of shape-shifting enemies (led by Ben Mendelsohn). But when she joins her military mentor (Jude Law) on a mission to 1995 Earth, persistent flashbacks to a previous life become ever more troubling and confusing for her, especially after she joins forces with a SHIELD officer (Samuel L. Jackson) and the two go in search of the scientist (Annette Bening) who seems

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    Movie Reviews

    Fighting With My Family

    MGM

    The fact-based story of a tightknit British family obsessed with the sport of wrestling makes for an entertaining comedy-drama, written and directed by Stephen Merchant. Saraya-Jade Bevis (Florence Pugh) is inspired by her parents (Lena Headey and Nick Frost), both former wrestlers, and her brother and erstwhile sparring partner (Jack Lowden), to pursue her talent in the ring. Facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, she is invited by the World Wrestling Entertainment empire to compete under the name “Paige.” Although the film’s rough edges, including streetwise cursing and sexual banter, place it out

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    Movie Reviews

    Cold Pursuit

    Summit

    A grieving father (Liam Neeson) embarks on a murderous rampage to avenge the death of his son (Micheal Richardson) in this bloodthirsty crime thriller, directed by Hans Petter Moland. As the father wades into the seedy underbelly of the town and disposes of accomplices, he inches closer to the drug kingpin (Tom Bateman) and sparks a turf war with a rival crime boss (Tom Jackson). Local police officers (Emmy Rossum, John Doman) take an awfully long time to notice that something is amiss. As sympathetic as Christian viewers may be of the father’s

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    Movie Reviews

    Roma

    Netflix 

    Meditative autobiographical drama chronicling the life of a middle-class family (led by Marina de Tavira) in the titular neighborhood of Mexico City in the early 1970s focuses primarily on the breakup of the parents’ marriage and on the out-of-wedlock pregnancy of their devoted maid (Yalitza Aparicio). Grown viewers with long attention spans will find Catholicism subtly interwoven into the clan’s experience as writer-director Alfonso Cuaron muses on his childhood. But graphic content restricts the appropriate audience for his journey down memory lane.

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    Movie Reviews

    Escape Room

    Columbia

    Routine thriller in which, lured by a $10,000 reward, a seemingly random group of people (most prominently troubled slacker Logan Miller and shy college student Taylor Russell) participate in what purports to be an immersive game but turns out to be a deadly struggle for survival. Though the victims of the deception generally bond and Bragi Schut and Maria Melnik’s script attempts, halfheartedly, to weigh the consequences of selfishness against the fruits of altruism, director Adam Robitel’s film is ultimately little more than a less disturbing take on the “Saw” franchise. Since the

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    Movie Reviews

    The Mule

    Warner Bros.

    This ambling, fact-based story of an octogenarian drug runner who becomes a success at it because no one, evidently, believes he’s capable of such a dangerous task is more than a little morally tone deaf. Clint Eastwood, who directed from a script by Nick Schenk, plays an easygoing Illinois horticulturist who has neglected his estranged family for years while puttering around the country hawking prize-winning daylilies. He gets a second chance at life and sudden wealth when a young Latino man makes him an offer to be a drug mule, hauling cocaine

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    Movie Reviews

    Aquaman

    Warner Bros.

    A sprawling, lush spectacle, this DC Comics adaptation is also overlong, overcomplicated and, at times, just plain dumb. After washing up on shore wounded, the queen of Atlantis (Nicole Kidman) is nursed back to health by a lighthouse keeper (Temuera Morrison) whom she weds and with whom she has a son before being forced to return underwater to the arranged marriage she was trying to flee in the first place. Once grown (Jason Momoa), the couple’s superhero offspring reluctantly gets mixed up in the politics of his mother’s kingdom where the realm’s

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    Movie Reviews

    Widows

    Fox

    The ends justify the means in this well-crafted but gritty heist drama from director and co-writer Steve McQueen. After her career criminal husband (Liam Neeson) is killed while robbing money from a corrupt politician (Brian Tyree Henry), a union official (Viola Davis) is threatened with death unless she repays the stolen loot. Using a notebook her spouse left behind with plans for his next job, she recruits the widows (Michelle Rodriguez and Elizabeth Debicki) of two of his gang members to help her pull the projected theft off instead. In adapting a British TV series, McQueen and

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    Movie Reviews

    Instant Family

    Paramount

    After taking in three siblings (Isabela Moner, Gustavo Quiroz and Julianna Gamiz) from foster care, a good-hearted couple (Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne) faces a series of challenges that disrupt their previously placid lifestyle and leave them wondering if they can cope with the commitment they’ve made. Drawing on his own real-life experience, director and co-writer Sean Anders deftly weaves amusing incidents with touching emotional interludes. While the result is a fundamentally pro-family film, the script, penned with John Morris, includes material appropriate for grown-ups only. Much sexual and some scatological humor, implicit

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    Movie Reviews

    Bohemian Rhapsody

    Fox

    Rami Malek gives himself completely to the role of Freddie Mercury in this biopic of the lead singer of the rock group Queen, with impressive artistic results. And Mercury’s musical career, including his collaboration with the other members of the band (Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joe Mazzello) as they resisted narrow categorization and took such creative risks as releasing the lengthy pop aria of the title as a single, is portrayed congenially enough. But the vocalist’s tangled personal life, beginning with his doomed engagement to his live-in girlfriend (Lucy Boynton), who

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    Movie Reviews

    Smallfoot

    Warner Bros.

    Turning the legend of Bigfoot on its head, this animated musical comedy charts the quest of a young yeti (voice of Channing Tatum) to prove that so-called smallfeet, that is, humans, exist, despite the fact that the inscribed stones by which the life of his mountaintop community has traditionally been regulated (their current custodian voiced by Common) deny this. Journeying below the clouds to look for proof, he encounters the host (voice of James Corden) of a nature-themed television show and, by presenting him to his fellow yetis, throws their whole way of

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    Movie Reviews

    Skyscraper

    Universal

    An American security expert (Dwayne Johnson) gets more than he bargained for when he agrees to review the safeguards at the world’s tallest building in Hong Kong whose owner (Chin Han) puts him and his family up there during their visit. A plot to destroy the structure leaves his wife (Neve Campbell) and kids (McKenna Roberts and Noah Cottrell) trapped by a raging multi-floor fire, with no one likely to be able to save them except Dad. Anyone with a fear of heights will cringe as writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber puts Johnson through his

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    MOVIE REVIEWS

    Black Panther

    Disney  

    Sprawling, energetic but ultimately overlong Marvel Comics adaptation from director and co-writer Ryan Coogler. The young sovereign (Chadwick Boseman) of an imaginary and secret African kingdom where the use of a super-powerful mineral has enabled the population to achieve both prosperity and a range of technological wonders unknown to the outside world must cope with two principal threats to his realm. The first involves a South African arms dealer (Andy Serkis) who has managed to infiltrate the nation and make

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    Movie Reviews

    Risen

    Columbia

    A Roman tribune (Joseph Fiennes) who witnessed the execution of Jesus (Cliff Curtis) is ordered by Pontius Pilate (Peter Firth) to investigate the disappearance of the crucified man’s body, and recover the missing corpse. But the hunt, in which he’s aided by an ambitious, though untested junior officer (Tom Felton), turns out to have life-altering consequences for the hard-bitten soldier. Designed to have broad appeal, this biblical epic uses its protagonist’s cynicism to clear a path for nonbelievers into the

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    Martin.pdf

    ‘Love’ is spelled ‘w-o-r-k’

    More Than I Knew

    I gave you my heart on a platter

    It was stupid

    I gave you my life like it mattered

    But you took it

    I know that people tell me that it’s gonna take time

    But time feels like forever when you ain’t by my side

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    Movie Reviews

    The Amazing Spider-Man 2

    Columbia

    Overstuffed but diverting 3-D comic-book sequel in which the title character, aka average teen Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield), grapples with the conflict between his superhero mission and his desire to safeguard his girlfriend (Emma Stone), tries to solve the mystery of his parents’ long-ago disappearance and battles a succession of villains (most prominently Jamie Foxx). He also has a fraught reunion with his best friend from childhood (Dane DeHaan) who’s afflicted with a fatal hereditary disease. Giddy special effects and a lively pace help disguise the fact that director Marc Webb’s follow-up to his 2012 reboot covers

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    Sociological study looks at support for interfaith marriages

    Cultural shifts in the age of marriage, the decline of the option for sacramental marriage among some Catholics, the demise of ethnic/religious enclaves in European American communities, and changing attitudes on human sexuality all have affected the Catholic ministry with young adults and marriage support.

    The church has made some developments to better support interchurch and interfaith couples and families, but pastoral implementation remains a challenge in many

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    Do TV, other media play a part in nation’s increasing obesity rate?

    Catholic News Service

    WASHINGTON – A Supreme Court justice once famously said about pornography, “I’ll know it when I see it,” regarding his test for judging what materials should be considered protected speech.

    A similar test may hold true for obesity and whether it should be considered a disease. But in June, the American Medical Association made that determination, recognizing it as a disease and overriding the opinion of a blue-ribbon panel created by the AMA that had said it wasn’t.

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    Movie Reviews

    The Bling Ring

    (A24 Films)

    Disturbing fact-based account of a gang of high school students who targeted their favorite stars and burgled the celebrities’ homes, stealing clothing, jewelry and cash to fill their own closets and pockets. Five teens (Israel Broussard, Katie Chang, Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga and Claire Julien) crave the A-list lifestyle, and so decide to steal the expensive accoutrements that go along with it. They rely on tabloid reports to tell them who’s out of town – then descend

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    Dedication common theme in books about women religious

    At first glance, one might wonder why these two books were paired for review. Clearly, there is the “nun” theme but what really unites the two is the idea of dedication. Both books reflect lives of faith and a sincere and inspiring desire to help others and serve God.

    In “As I Have Loved You: A Conversation With Mother Teresa” John Scully truly offers new insights into the holy and

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