July 23rd-29th Downloads
& DVDs
 
  • Alita: Battle Angel:

    This is a special effects extravaganza, with writer/producer James Cameron of Titanic / Terminator / Avatar fame providing the framework for the direction by Robert Rodriguez of Spykids, Sin City, and Grindhouse.  That should be enough to assure a strong and positive story, but one thing that a film needs to be satisfying is a strong finish, and Alita lags badly there, in my opinion.  The story takes place on earth in the 26th century, some 300 years after "The Fall," a cataclysmic war with an alien race that has left much of our planet in rubble.  In the 300 years since this event, there is one "sky city" left, a huge, floating creation that contains, we think, the elite, while most of the inhabitants of the planet are involved in a hardscrabble urban lifestyle down below, in a fashion similar to what we saw in the Jodie Foster movie Elysium from 2013.  Alita borrows a good number of bits and pieces from other sci-fi films including Tron, The Terminator movies, and even Robocop.  Christoph Waltz plays Dr. Ido, a sort of Dr. Frankenstein to the android set who combs junk piles looking for bits and pieces of cyborgs that he can piece together in his lab.  When he finds a head and part of a torso of a very special android, a young woman whom he names after his deceased daughter, he gives her a complete cyborg body and we learn quickly that she is much more than the sum of her parts.  Alita (Rosa Salazar) has the heart of a warrior, and spends much of her time engaging other cyborgs, which are the most amazing thing in the film, as she beats them into submission.  Where it becomes unhinged, after a story, characters, and special effects that are most engaging, is at the end when we realize we have been had ... the story is not complete, and we must wait for a not-yet-greenlit sequel to learn the outcome of some of the most important events.  Worth seeing, but the ending disappointed me!  Rated 14A.

     

  • Hellboy:

    This is a total reboot of the franchise, based on the a graphic comic, that had two previous movies that starred Ron Perelman and were directed by Guillermo Del Toro.  This time Neil Marshall directs, and David Harbour, the cop on Stranger Things, is the devilish demon from the kingdom below ground.  Hellboy has a foot in both worlds as he is, like so many other superhero types, part human, part something else.  Because there is so much makeup involved, it's difficult to tell just what kind of acting job David Harbour is doing, but the lines he is given by the writers, Andrew Crosby and Mike Mignola, are both over the top, and at times very humorous.  The story is not so much complicated as it is endless.  The Red Queen (Mila Jovovich) is the personification of evil, having come from the depths of hell looking to conquer the world above, which comes to a stop when she encounters Merlin and King Arthur in the sixth century.  Turns out that Excalibur is the only weapon that can defeat her, and Arthur beheads her, removes each of her limbs, and sends all the body parts off in different directions to be hidden away, never to be seen again.  The Queen's head is placed, still screaming, into a box, and that's that.  Cut to the present day, and the forces of darkness and evil are still very much at work, with Hellboy as the target.  Long story short, there is a conspiracy among the demons to find all the Queen's bits and pieces and restore her to both life and to owning her realm.  Hellboy stands in the way.  The movie has an 18A rating largely because of the intense coarse language, and its bloody battle scenes.

  • Missing Link:

    Done in marvellously-detailed stop-motion animation (think Wallace and Gromit, or Coraline), the story here is plausible and it will appeal to children in a big way, I would say, seven and up.  Taking place in the late-1800s, the focus is on Sir Lionel Frost (voice of Hugh Jackman), a veddy, veddy British adventurer who, like many Brits of this era, felt it was his obligation to spread the smartness and the manners of the British Empire to all corners of the globe.  Even though he has had some significant accomplishments, the stuffed-shirts at the Optimates Club where he is a member never seem to get what he has achieved.  A letter from Washington State in the Pacific Northwest changes all that ... or could - and soon Sir Lionel is off to the Colonies.  It is there that he becomes acquainted with the letter-writer.  He is a Sasquatch, not yet called "Bigfoot," and he has a story to tell, although his knowledge of language is so literal that this is where the best laughs come in.  As the human population has increased, the Sasquatch population has decreased, with our big, hairy hero dubbed by Sir Lionel as Mr. Link, feeling alone as the last of his kind.  But never fear with an intrepid British adventurer at hand ... should be a simple thing to take Mr. Link to the Himalayas via England, to acquaint him with his long-lost cousins, the Yeti.  Danger at the hands of jealous humans prevails, and the Zack Galifiniakis-voiced creature moves from one peril to another.  Short on big laughs, but it has a charm that kids will love.  Rated PG.
  • Typewriter (2019):

    This Netflix original was commissioned in India and is set in that country, although it seems to have just a little bit of a "Stranger Things" tinge to it.  The focus is on both a haunted house and a haunted book, which get a group of young ghost hunters more than interested.  When an attractive young girl and her family move into the house, it sets off a new series of haunted events for the teenage ghostbusters.  Rated 14A.

     

    Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee:

    A new season of this Jerry Seinfeld-hosted talk-and-conversation show begins streaming this weekend.  The process is deceptively simple and completely captivating as Seinfeld picks up a comic, takes him or her for a car ride, ends up in a coffee shop talking, and revealing to us some exceptional results.  No sets, no band, no studio audience, just a couple of funny people comparing notes.  Excellent show!

First Man (2018):

Ryan Gosling is completely convincing as Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the lunar surface.  The story delves deeply into the relationships between Armstrong, his wife Janet (Claire Foy), and his fellow astronauts.  It may surprise many viewers to learn that Armstrong was not a warm and fuzzy guy, that he approached every issue, including his relationship with his children, as a problem in engineering that could be fixed with the right math.  A subtle backstory about one of his children makes the final scenes in the movie a complete surprise.  Rated 14A.  

 

New on AMAZON PRIME

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot (2018):

Based on actual events, Joaquin Phoenix stars as John Callahan, a young man severely injured in a car accident in which he was the impaired driver.  His alcoholism led him to that place, where he emerged a quadriplegic, and it appeared that his life was pretty much over.  While in rehab, he found that he had an ability to draw editorial cartoons, and with the help of his girlfriend (Rooney Mara) and his sponsor (Jonah Hill), he learns that perhaps there is a life worth living after all.  Set and shot in Portland, OR, home of the real-life John Callahan.  Rated 14A.