Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

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This sci-fi movie is good, though not at the level of Star Wars or Star Trek. Space agents Valerian and Laureline are attacked when they retrieve a last-of-its-kind creature to bring back to Alpha, the City of a Thousand Planets, where thousands of species co-exist. Who else wants the creature and why? The movie starts off a bit slow, but the story builds up after that. The visual spectacle of alien worlds and species makes this movie good to watch. Acting is not bad either, although not Rihanna – the delivery of her lines is a bit stilted. I was pleasantly surprised by Cara Delevigne – she tackles the role of Laureline well, so much so that I think the movie should have been entitled “Valerian and Lauraline”, not just “Valerian”. If you like visual spectacles, you’ll enjoy this. And be sure you watch it in 3D!

Official Movie Website

War for the Planet of the Apes

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This movie lives up to, and even exceeds, the standards set by the two previous Apes movies. Picking up a couple of years after the second movie, Caesar and his fellow apes are being hunted by soldiers, and his wife and son are killed. Caesar’s inner Koba surfaces as he seeks to avenge their deaths. The digital effects, emotion and intensity are even better than what we have come to expect from the franchise. But I was also pleasantly surprised by the introduction of a new ape who provides some comic relief! Definitely a movie worth watching, even if you haven’t seen the first two Apes movies (the movie starts with a super quick summary to help establish history). And no spoilers here, but the ending!!!

Official Movie Website

Baby Driver

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Despite several violent scenes, I enjoyed this movie about a young man who is coerced into working as a getaway driver for a criminal mastermind. He listens to music to drown out his tinnitus, the result of a long-ago car accident. Starting off with a fast-paced heist/chase scene, the movie does slow down a bit in the middle, but the pace picks right back up. Ansel Elgort carries the movie well, and the music fits the movie. Plus, the A-list stars in supporting roles do a good job without overshadowing Elgort. If you’re looking for a nice diversion, watch this movie.

Official Movie Website

The Beguiled

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This film is a remake of a 1971 Clint Eastwood movie. The acting is good, but for a movie that is only 1:34 long, it feels kinda dragging. The story also irks me. Set in Virginia during the Civil War, a young girl finds an injured Yankee soldier and brings him back to her all-girls boarding school, where his injuries are tended to. But along the way, most of the women, adult and not, make fools of themselves (listen to the audience laugh – this is not a comedy) as they let themselves be charmed by this guy. Really??? Really??? The story does redeem itself in the end, but overall, if you want to watch this, just temper your expectations.

Official Movie Website

Girls Trip

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Waaay better than Rough Night (which opened last week), this movie is about four college friends who reunite for a weekend at the Essence Festival in New Orleans. As expected, they get into funny and raunchy situations with some heart-tugging moments included as well. The situations these four friends find themselves in are more relatable than those in Rough Night, and the actresses themselves have better chemistry with each other. Because portions of this movie were filmed at the 2016 Essence Festival, you’ll see plenty of “cameos” from the actual Essence 2016 performers. So, if you are looking for a good female-oriented movie to watch, go with this!

Official Movie Website

Transformers: The Last Knight

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The first few minutes of the movie, I thought I was watching King Arthur (which opened a little over a month ago).┬áHuh! Turns out it was just the back story for the object that the Autobots and the Decepticons are after. And where is Optimus Prime? As expected, the special effects are amazing, but the rest of the movie is so so – the story kinda jumps in some parts, the dialog is mostly okay, with some funny parts but also some really cheesy parts, and the attempt at a romance between the male and female leads falls flat due to their lack of chemistry. Also, the movie is too long! UNLESS you are a Transformers fan, in which case, who cares what I think – this movie is amazing!

Official Movie Website

Rough Night

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What happens if you accidentally kill someone during a bachelorette weekend? This movie answers that with a series of raunchy scenes and funny scenes, but many of the situations are too ridiculous to be truly funny. Even though five names are above the movie title, the key roles belong to Scarlett Johansson and Jillian Bell – I really wanted to see more of Kate McKinnon. Bottomline, there are other better movies opening this weekend, but if you do watch this one, stay all the way through the credits for a bonus scene.

Official Movie Website

The Book of Henry

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I was pleasantly surprised by how good this movie is. Henry is a smart and mature 11-year-old, who notices that the girl next door is being abused by her stepfather, a powerful public figure. So, he puts together a plan to save her, and gets his mother to execute that plan. Jaeden Lieberher, as Henry, and Naomi Watts, as his mother, give tremendous performances. So does Jacob Tremblay, as Henry’s younger brother. You will laugh, you will cry, you will be so glad you watched this movie. One of the best movies I’ve seen so far this year!

Official Movie Website

My Cousin Rachel

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I read the book many many many years ago, and the movie stays mostly faithful to the book. Philip suspects Rachel of causing his cousin/guardian Ambrose’s death, but finds himself also falling in love with her. Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin do a good job of portraying Rachel and Philip and their complex relationship. The movie may seem slow at times, but you’ll find yourself constantly wondering about Rachel’s actions. Does she have a partner-in-crime? Is she now trying to poison Philip? You’ll just have to watch the movie to figure out for yourself if Rachel is innocent or guilty.

Official Movie Website

Wonder Woman

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I’d been waiting for this movie since I first saw Wonder Woman in Batman v. Superman, and the wait was worth it. The story is WW’s origin story, but also ties in nicely to the upcoming Justice League. The choice of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is definitely the right one. She brings strength, determination, and empathy to the character. Definitely go watch this movie!

Official Movie Website