Wedding, heroes, funny old bear subjects of new DVD releases

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“Christopher Robin”

3 stars

The production features the familiar characters from the books by British author A.A. Milne. The big difference is that Christopher Robin in this film, played by Ewan McGregor, has grown up and lost the childhood innocence he had when he would play in the Hundred Acre Wood. Pooh comes back into Christopher’s life in hopes of rekindling the youthful exuberance Christopher once had and in the process make him a better husband and father.

There’s a sweetness to “Christopher Robin” that could fill a heffalump load of honey pots. It’s a good reminder that life moves swiftly and it’s important to remember the very important.

“The Incredibles 2”

3 stars

The family elements – especially having to do with baby Jack-Jack’s budding powers – make for the best moments in the animated sequel. From a training session with the no-nonsense Edna or the fun battle between the laser-shooting, dimension-hopping, fire-throwing baby and a raccoon, Jack-Jack steals the show.

How Elastigirl deals with the pressure of being the last, great hope for superheroes and the strain of her being away – especially from Jack-Jack — are strong enough building blocks to carry the movie. Director Brad Bird had so many years to think about the story, the central strength of the family dynamic gets muddled by plot threads of young love gone wrong, a cautionary tale of technology and the introduction of a bevy of new characters with super powers.

The only one of the new characters that is developed enough to be interesting is Voyd (Sophia Bush). Her story would make for a full movie.

“Destination Wedding”

3 stars

Frank (Keanu Reeves) and Lindsay (Winona Ryder) meet when they are headed to a destination wedding. The only thing they have in common is they are both unhappy with having to make the long trip to watch the couple get married against a perfect sunset.

Director Victor Levin’s script has been structured like a two-person play or in a similar style to the 1995 Ethan Hawke/Julie Delpy feature film “Before Sunrise.” Having every line of dialogue in “Destination Wedding” be delivered by either Reeves or Ryder establishes in a crystal clear form that this is a movie with a laser focus on one man and one woman.

“Teen Titans Go! To the Movies”

3.5 stars

This is the animated story of the comic book world’s best known sidekick, Robin (voiced by Scott Menville), and his fellow Teen Titans. The Boy Wonder is convinced the only way the group — which also includes Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), Cyborg (Khary Payton), Raven (Tara Strong) and Starfire (Hynden Walch) — will be taken seriously is if they star in their own movie. Robin and the gang go to Hollywood, where they try to convince Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell), the director behind all of the other DC Comics superhero movies, to make a film about them.

The story is told through an animation style that explodes off the screen with color and light. It’s not hampered by the kind of bleak imagery that has been the norm in so many movies based on DC characters.

Combine the fast pacing of the story, the wonderful embrace of bold colors and plenty of silliness and the movie works on a basic comedy level. The film continues the crazy style of the television series that has made it so popular. In a world where superheroes tend to either be moodily self-reflective or All-American good, the Teen Titans are wild, impulsive and a lot of fun.

“Hotel Artemis”

3.5 stars

A shining example of how it is not the amount of money spent to make a movie, but how the budget is being spent. Director/writer Drew Pearce has managed to create a high-energy, gritty-looking and prophetically scary tale set in the near future that comes across as big as any summer blockbuster but offers far more bang for the bucks in the writing, visuals and acting.

“Hotel Artemis” is filled with standout performances topped by an Oscar-worthy effort by Jodie Foster, who in recent years has been more content to work behind the cameras. She’s not stopped acting, but will only take on roles that intrigue her, as in the case of The Nurse.

“Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation”

3 stars

The animated feature picks up with the getaway destination for creatures doing booming business. Things are going so well they need a break, and the group books passage on the first monster cruise that will take them from the Bermuda Triangle to the found city of Atlantis. Dracula falls in love again, but the object of his affection is the last in the long line of Van Helsings who have made it their life’s work to kill Dracula.

“Hotel Transylvania 3” doesn’t suck. It is a visual splendor from the fun way the creatures are portrayed to the pacing of the action. Keeping Genndy Tartakovsky as the director of all three films creates a fluid sense of comedy and look.


2 stars

The 21st century attempt to repeat the kind of yippee-ki-yay action that made “Die Hard” so exciting features Dwayne Johnson running, jumping, climbing and lifting heavy objects. To be honest, a workout video would have been just as interesting.

“Skyscraper” ends up being a poor man’s “Die Hard” because it is still entertaining on a familiar level, especially if all you want is some mindless entertainment.



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