“Aquaman” is the backstory of how Arthur Curry became the King of Atlantis. A villain introduced in the film will be involved in the first of what will be at least one or two sequels.
Jason Momoa’s super buff Aquaman has very little to do other than follow a predictable plodding super hero plot. He poses, primps and shows off his muscles but not much in the way of acting skill. But he doesn’t need to act. Momoa just needs to look invincible.
Arthur is contacted by Amber Heard’s (“The Danish Girl”) Princess Mera. Curry — who was raised on land — is encouraged to claim his heritage before half-brother Orm unites all of the kingdoms of Atlantis and declares war on humanity.
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To rule, Curry has to find and possess the Trident of Neptune. With the trident in his possession Curry’s Aquaman is the undisputed ruler of the sea and of Atlantis. Of course, the evil brother — done by “The Conjuring’s” Patrick Wilson — has other ideas.
As I’ve complained about many times, is there some sort of rule that says all super hero movies have to be two-plus hours in length? This one is runs 2:23. Of that, at least 30-minutes could be eliminated.
As a positive, director James Wan (“The Conjuring,” “Saw”) and his CGI effects team do a pretty good job of making you believe the underwater action is actually happening underwater. Though it could use some watering down lengthwise, he does manage to keep the film moving.
The negative? Wan and the writers pack it with too many plot threads and long, needless effects scenes. The temptation — as with almost all of the genre whether it be D.C. or Marvel — is to try to make every film an epic.
This one just isn’t and sinks deeper and faster than the actual Atlantis.
▪ Rated PG-13 for mature themes and some violence. It’s playing at the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s, at the AMC Classic Kennewick 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
▪ Rating: 2 out of 5
Director Travis Knight (“Kubo and the Two Strings”) and writer Christina Hodson (“Unforgettable”) have put together a film as easy to love as terrific robot movies of the past like “Iron Giant,” “Short Circuit” and even “Terminator 2.”
Set in 1987, Bumblebee casts Hailee Steinfeld (“Pitch Perfect” 2 & 3, “The Edge of Seventeen”) as Charlie Watson. She’s angry, about to turn 18 and missing her late father. Charlie finds a junky old, yellow Volkswagen. It turns out to be Bumblebee who we first met as a yellow Camero in 2007’s original film.
The bad guy Decepticons are winning the war and Bumblebee has been sent to scout out Earth as a new base of operations for the good guy Autobots. Once here he gets into a battle with the U.S. military, short-circuits and loses his memory.
A few years later, he’s found by Charlie.
Transformers movies — even the original Micheal Bay flick from 2007 — have been pretty much so-so. The producers, writers and directors fail to give their robotic characters three-dimensional personalities. “Bumblebee” is totally different. Yes, it is a transformers movie but it’s also a relationship movie.
And it’s a very good one.
Steinfeld — one of the best of today’s crop of young actresses — has a lot of fun with a very challenging role and manages to make you believe she’s made a most wonderful friend of a sometimes goofy, almost childlike robot who can double as a very fast Volkswagen.
Don’t let that it’s a transformers movie keep you from seeing this one. It’s packed with laugh-out-loud scenes and will be fun for those who grew up with transformers on TV and for those who didn’t.
▪ Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It’s playing at the AMC Classic Kennewick 12, at the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
▪ Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5
‘Mary Poppins Returns’
Director Rob Marshall (“Chicago,” “Into the Woods”) directs and co-writes the sequel to 1964’s classic. It is set in the 1930s when the two children from the original are grown up and in a crisis.
He’s a widower and she’s helping him raise his three young children. He forgets to make the house payments and is about to lose the family home. When things seem darkest, Mary Poppins arrives to engineer the rescue.
Emily Blunt (“The Girl on the Train”) is cast as Mary. She does a spot-on imitation of Julie Andrews who won an Oscar and a Golden Globe in the role. Blunt will no doubt get an Oscar nod to go along with her recent Golden Globe nomination. She is terrific as the always in control and quite magical Mary. However, it is her co-star and Tony Winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”) who steals the film.
He’s an amazing singer, dancer and actor who electrifies Marshall’s movie.
What isn’t electric is the rather forgettable music of lyricist Scott Wittman and composer Marc Shaiman. You won’t find songs that you can’t get out of your head like the original film’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, A Spoonful of Sugar or Chim Chim Cheree.
People who love the original will definitely dig this one. Those of us who didn’t see the Andrews and Dick Van Dyke version will find it pleasant but not super compelling.
▪ Rated PG for mature themes. It’s playing at the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s, the AMC Classic Kennewick 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas
▪ Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5
‘Mary Queen of Scots’
A lot of praise is being heaped on “Mary Queen of Scots.” Don’t buy it. This is a tedious trip down history lane whose only saving grace is the acting of Saoirse Ronan. She’s Queen Mary. Her co-star Margo Robbie plays Mary’s distant cousin, Queen Elizabeth of England.
Both are great actresses who have the ability to make bad movies better and both are very good. Ronan — since Mary is the film’s main character — has more to do. She nails the part but both actresses are undone by a strung out story that first time director Josie Rourke lays out in chunks.
It’s about as much fun to watch as a chess match without a time limit.
The story starts with Mary about to be executed and then flashes back to why. If you want to know why, do an Internet search. It will be as informative and — blessedly — won’t take you two-hours to wade through.
▪ Rated R for mature themes, violence and brief nudity. It’s playing at the AMC Classic Kennewick 12.
▪ Rating: 2 out of 5
‘Welcome to Marwen’
“Welcome to Marwen” is based on a true story. The key word in cases like this is “based.” In 2000, Mark Hogancamp was attacked outside a bar by five men and left for dead. He was in a coma for nine-days and all memory before that night was erased.
To cope, Hogancamp created Marwencol. It’s a miniature fictional village in World War II Belgium. He takes pictures of the characters inhabiting the village. They are men and women — including his assailants — from his real life. Hogancamp’s story was the subject of a real life documentary in 2010.
The Steve Carell movie is co-written and directed by Robert Zemeckis. He uses motion capture to turn his star and co-stars into six-inch dolls and then zips Carell’s Hogancamp in and out of reality and into Marwen’s fantasy and back. It is there the dolls of the people both protect and torture him.
“Welcome to Marwen” gives Steve Carell another chance to show his dramatic chops. He’s flat out good in the role. So are his many co-stars. What isn’t good is Zemeckis’ uneven storytelling. He overdoes the fantasy part of Hogancamp’s life and his story ends up as wooden as the movie’s animated dolls.
▪ Rated PG-13 for mature themes and violence. It’s playing at the Fairchild Cinemas Queensgate 12, the AMC Classic Kennewick 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
▪ Rating: 2 of 5