Our movie guy, Paul McGuire Grimes, gives us his take on three new movies out in theaters now. Paul is the creator of Paul’s Trip to the Movies.
SKYSCRAPER (theatrical release)
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is back to save the day again. He plays Will Sawyer, a former FBI hostage negotiator who is now a lauded safety and security advisor. He’s been tasked to assess the new security protocols for The Pearl, the newest skyscraper in Hong Kong. It’s set to become the largest skyscraper in the world surpassing the Burj Khalifa. Will and his family are staying at The Pearl in order to get his security clearance before the official inspection. What should be an exciting opportunity and grand opening turns into chaos once Will’s clearance is compromised. The Pearl is taken hostage by a large group of terrorists looking to get revenge on Will, his family, and the developer of the building. They ignite a massive explosion on the 96th floor trapping Will’s family in the burning building. It’s a thrilling race against time for Will to save them before the once indestructible building comes crashing down.
-Starring: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Neve Campbell, Pablo Schreiber
-Clearly inspired by Die Hard or The Towering Inferno
-In pure Rock fashion, he goes to extreme lengths to save his family by scaling windows and hanging off the edge of the building to jumping off a crane. There’s a Mission: Impossible style to the lavish stunts.
-The Pearl is a pretty impressive set piece. The production designers went all out with how they designed the inside of the skyscraper with lavish greenery and some cool tricks and optical illusions.
-It’s easy to accept the ridiculous and implausible nature of this movie given how great The Rock is at these types of movies. You have to agree to look past logic and just go with the fun of it. He delivers a few good one-liners along the way to demonstrate he’s in on the fun.
-Neve Campbell is the not-so-surprising star of the movie. The role could have just been the standard helpless wife role, but Campbell makes her a strong heroine with a few tricks up her sleeve. She’s pretty smart and can kick butt against the terrorists much like we saw from her in the Scream franchise. I had many audible cheers for her character throughout.
-In true fashion to the idea of what the skyscraper stands for, this movie was clearly meant to be seen on a massive screen and possibly 3D. You can tell it was shot to test someone’s fear of heights.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? The Rock is the king of disaster flicks.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? (Theatrical release)
Many of us grew up on “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood” on public television. It ran on and off from February 19, 1968 to August 31, 2001. As a kid, it was fun to travel along to “Make-Believe” to visit Daniel Tiger, King Friday the 13th, or any of the other puppets host Fred Rogers used on his show. This new documentary explores who Fred Rogers was behind the scenes and the power and impact his show had on generations of people. Rogers was a minister who was fascinated with television but was disappointed in the quality of the children’s programming. He thought there was a need for educational shows as too many kid’s shows were violent or low-brow clown comedy. He wanted to bring music, puppets, and his own style of ministry to help kids deal with their feelings. His songs were about hope and loving oneself in the face of adversity. “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood” became a massive success but was threatened when the Nixon Administration wanted to take away funding for public television. Rogers won that battle and proved his formula worked.
-One of the best documentaries, and overall movies, you will see this year. It features interviews with his wife, sons, and a variety of the actors and backstage crew of his show.
-It’s a reminder of how groundbreaking and courageous he was at tackling “hot button” issues like racism, depression, and even Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination.
-The documentary showcases his inner demons as well as he was frequently plagued with bouts of self-doubt throughout his career wondering if he and the show were having any impact, could he make a difference, battling the rise and popularity of violent, superhero kids shows
-Reminder of how Fred Rogers wanted unity. He wanted to bring people together and show how everyone deserves to be respected and loved no matter their beliefs, backgrounds, or what they looked like.
-The tone of the movie is soft, gentle, and peaceful much like Fred Rogers was in real life. Bring a tissue with as the ending will leave you in tears as you think about your childhood and the people that love you and made you who you are today.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? You don’t have to be a kid to love Mr. Rogers.
RATING: 4.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (theatrical release)
We last saw Ant-Man in Captain America: Civil War, and now we pick up with Scott Lang/Ant-Man living under house arrest for the last two years following the events of that film. He’s doing the best he can at being a good father to his daughter, Cassie. Any sort of housebreak could result in twenty years behind bars. This poses a problem for our troublemaker of a hero who starts having visions of a young girl playing hide and seek with her mom. These visions are of Hope van Dyne/Wasp and her mother, Janet. Janet was the original Wasp who risked her life to save others when Hope was just a kid. Hope, along with her father, Hank Pym, have always believed she was still alive after transporting to the Quantum Realm. Once Scott successfully came back from the Realm, Hank has been working on a tunnel that could possibly rescue his wife. If only Pym’s lab could have stayed a secret. After being shrunk down to briefcase size, it’s stolen by a masked and hooded figured, only known as Ghost, who can phase in and out of physical spaces making it all more complicated for Ant-Man and Wasp to pin her down. It’s a bit unknown as to who Ghost really is and what she’s really after. She’s not some henchman but a complicated antagonist with a connection to Hank Pym’s past.
-Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer
-It’s a light, screwball comedy that fully gives in to the ridiculous nature of its premise of having our two heroes dressed as insects that can reduce their size for a quick getaway or enlarge themselves to reiterate their power and abilities.
-When Ant-Man, Wasp, and a variety of inanimates shrink in size or expand to being mega-sized, there’s an unpredictable and playful nature to the action scenes. Director Peyton Reed treats these big actions sequences like he’s a kid again playing with action figurines. You can almost hear him and star Paul Rudd making explosion noises when they crash into things and defeat the bad guys.
-Unlike Thor or The Hulk, this isn’t the kind of superhero that relies on brawn and muscles to save the day. Paul Rudd who brings his usual sarcastic charm to the role. He’s never trying to be a hero. He still gets excited about the powers he has when he puts on the suit. It’s a great attitude to have to play off of Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym who is getting to be more and more of a curmudgeon as he gets older.
-The core basis of the story is less about Ant-Man but more about reuniting Hank and Hope with Janet, played effortlessly by Michelle Pfeiffer. The hope of being reunited is all they want.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS