Paul McGuire Grimes of Paul’s Trip to the Movies gives us his review on two big theater releases.
STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER (in theaters)
How do you end a saga after three trilogies? Director J.J. Abrams does just that with a satisfying conclusion in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Adam Driver is out for blood as Kylo Ren. His rage is stronger than ever before. He’s massively greedy and with the return of Emperor Palpatine, he knows he can potentially rule the galaxy. Rey is continuing on in her Jedi training. The force is massively strong within her, and while she may not be ready, she sets out to finish Luke’s mission. Along for the ride are trusty companions Poe, Finn, Chewie, and their fellow droids.
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Billy Dee Williams, Keri Russell, and Richard E. Grant.
-J.J. Abrams returns to the Star Wars saga after directing Episode VII The Force Awakens. He also co-wrote the script, and it seems fitting for him to finish the trilogy that he started. It’s high action from the start and it feels great to be transported back to George Lucas’ universe.
-Carrie Fisher’s General Leia Organa grounds the film and tells Rey “Never be afraid of who you are.” It’s the driving catalyst to the humanity at hand. The Rise of Skywalker continues the exploration of Kylo Ren and Rey, their relationship together and how they deal with their past, their legacies, and who they ultimately want to become.
-The story has our core group of new characters on the mission together again after being separated for parts of The Last Jedi. They have great chemistry together so it’s far more meaningful for the ending to have them working together again.
-If The Last Jedi challenged fans at taking the franchise in a new, daring direction, don’t expect that same concept for the finale. Abrams takes a pretty direct straight-forward approach at concluding this storyline.
-While we get some new characters and fun little creatures, Abrams wraps up and answers the questions that have been posed so far without taking us off track in any way. Sure, that may be safe bet, but it makes sense for the ninth episode in.
– There are a few moments where I got choked up when I least expected it. There are twists and revelations that I didn’t see coming. I cheered and gasped throughout and had a few good chuckles with Chewie and C3PO.
-The surface level attraction of epic battle sequences with lightsabers and destroyer ships is awesome to watch, but the finale is a reminder that in the end it’s about finding the force within yourself to overcome hate and fear.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? The Rise of Skywalker is a satisfying conclusion for all three trilogies.
RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
CATS (in theaters)
Some musicals should never be adapted into a movie as they are meant for the stage. Thus is the case for Cats. Victoria, a young white cat is left abandoned in the streets. It’s there where she meets a variety of alley cats all vying to be chosen for the Jellicle Ball.
-Starring: Francesca Hayward, Jason DeRulo, Rebel Wilson, James Corden, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, and Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, the glamour cat.
-Cats is one the longest running musicals in Broadway history with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber based on the poetry of T.S. Eliot. The movie musical is directed by Oscar-winner Tom Hooper. This isn’t his first movie musical as he also brought Les Miserables to the big screen.
-The movie version of Cats is a stagnant mess from start to finish. There really isn’t a plot to the musical, and thus the movie doesn’t have much of a plot. When you don’t have a strong plot, there’s nowhere for the movie to go. I think Tom Hooper and Lee Hall attempt one with having McCavity, played by Idris Elba be the token villain character and using Victoria’s introduction to the cats be the structural centerpiece, but I was frequently wondering where it was going. There’s a lack of a strong conflict and no emotion behind any of the musical numbers.
-Andrew Lloyd Webber can write catchy music, and that is still present in the movie. This should be a big dance show with beautiful choreography but that gets completely lost in the chaotic cinematography and editing. The camera is constantly in motion with Hooper’s frequent close ups and then it cuts from one fame to the next too quickly. The end result is we rarely get to see the full dancing or stage pictures that make it theatrical.
-There are so many inconsistancies throughout in the design elements. The actors appear to be filmed using motion capture to still utilize their faces and body movements, but it feels so weird to see their actual faces under CGI to give them fur, cat ears, and tails. YET, they have human hands and feet. It was easier to get behind the actors in the chorus or smaller roles where I didn’t know who the actor was. It was weird to think of Judi Dench trapped under CGI. She and Ian McKellen appear to be in different movies than the rest of the cast. McKellen almost takes his role too seriously as he’s the only one meowing, licking himself, and rubbing up against a light post.
-Rebel Wilson and James Corden are brought in to play to their usual comedic shtick. Don’t expect a lot from Taylor Swift as she’s in it for about five minutes.
-There were many unexplainable moments throughout that resulted in unexpected laughter from the audience when it wasn’t really meant to be funny. There are dancing cockroaches, horny innuendos, and cheesy cat puns used time and time again.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Cats is one of the worst movie musicals of all time.
RATING: 1 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
BOMBSHELL (in theaters)
The women at Fox News had their own to story to tell. Their story was about their boss, Roger Ailes, and the history of sexual misconduct under him and fellow anchors at Fox. As Megyn Kelly is battling presidential candidate Donald Trump about his rhetoric toward women, Gretchen Carlson is debating about suing Fox and/or Ailes. She’s warned about going up against someone as powerful as him, but she pulls the trigger. After she’s let go, word spreads as more women come out telling their story. Kelly wages whether to share her history or not. This doesn’t stop Ailes from his behavior as new reporter Kayla who works on Bill O’Reilly’s show becomes his latest victim.
-Starring: Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Kate McKinnon, Allison Janney, Malcolm McDowell, Mark Duplass
-Directed by Jay Roach whose other films, Game Change and Recount, have also been based on true on political and newsworthy stories.
-First movie in a post Me-Too era to directly address sexual allegations in high-powered places. I would hope that this film showcases how difficult it is for victims to step forward given the risks it takes on their life and career. Carlson is given a warning that “No one wins by suing Fox News.”
-The script is missing a proper focus. Megyn Kelly is the focus of the movie, yet Carlson was the one to pull the trigger and start the downfall of Ailes. Carlson is then basically treated as a supporting character in the movie with less screen time that she deserves. There are almost too many characters in the movie. I wonder if the screenwriter felt the need to include every Fox News personality and others like Trump and Giuliani just to drive the point in further even if they aren’t really necessary to this specific story.
-This movie doesn’t absolve Megyn Kelly of her more disgraceful comments. Charlize Theron gives an incredible performance and plays her as a very conflicting person. I didn’t always agree with Kelly’s choices in how she handled everything, and Theron makes her a very flawed, yet real person. She nails the voice and physicalities of Kelly without resorting to caricature.
-John Lithgow is ultra-slimy as Roger Ailes. He may be buried under heavy make-up, but his performance captures just how gross and vulgar he was as a boss and human.
-Bombshell is a rich and complex story, but the movie almost feels a little too rushed and resolves it all under two hours. It’s the rare time where I wish the movie was longer to tell this story appropriately and accurately.
Is It Worth Your Trip the Movies? Bombshell is a story worth hearing.
RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS