Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Movie review: Portman’s ‘Annihilation’ thought-provoking sci-fi thriller

VIDEO: See Tim’s review of “Annihilation” with Zachery Lashway on KARE 11.

“Annihilation” (R)

Natalie Portman makes a rare appearance outside of her largely dramatic film career with “Annihilation,” a thought-provoking sci-fi thriller that elevates the genre to the next level.

Portman plays Lena, an expert biologist who joins a secret expedition to investigate an alien phenomena call “The Shimmering,” a prism-type of barrier that surrounds a huge quarantine zone in the Florida wild. Many people have entered The Shimmering but no one has returned, apart from Portman’s husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac), who emerges in a zombie-like state and on the verge of death.

Once inside The Shimmering, Portman and her fellow expeditioners (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson among them) discover everything inside the dreamlike zone from plant to animal life mutates, leaving Lena and the team in a desperate situation to discover its mysteries since borders of the quarantine zone are rapidly expanding and consuming everything around it.

A brilliant follow-up to his stunning debut “Ex Machina” with Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson and Issac, “Annihilation” feels refreshingly original, even though it draws from many sources including “Arrival,” “Alien” and “The Thing.” It’s hauntingly atmospheric, as well as very violent and bloody at times, yet it’s definitely not a typical sci-fi film. Instead, it mirrors the greatness of “The Outer Limits” and “The Twilight Zone,” but with the benefit of a bigger budget.

Defying sci-fi film convention (in a welcome shift, the film’s protagonists are a group of five females with scientific backgrounds instead of the usual group of macho male lunkheads spewing one-liners), “Annihilation” ultimately offers a narrative much more cerebral and thought-provoking, and the conclusion leaves as many questions as there are answers — something that makes sense since it’s based on the first book in author Jeff VanderMeer’s “Southern Reach” trilogy. With any luck, “Annihilation” will do well enough at the box office so Garland can complete the thrilling tale.

Lammometer: 8 out of 10

AUDIO: Hear Tim’s review of “Annihilation” and “Ash vs. Evil Dead” Season 3 with Tom Barnard on “The KQ92 Morning Show” (segment begins 2 minutes in).

Tim Lammers reviews movies weekly for The KQ92 Morning Show,” “KARE 11 News at 11” (NBC), WCCO Radio, “The Tom Barnard Podcast” and “The BS Show” with Bob Sansevere.

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com

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Movie review: ‘Black Panther’ impressive addition to Marvel Cinematic Universe


See Tim’s review on “Black Panther” on KARE 11 (NBC) with Adrienne Broaddus in the video above.

“Black Panther” (PG-13)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to amaze with “Black Panther,” the first solo movie featuring the legendary Marvel Comics character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966. First appearing on the big screen in “Captain America: Civil War” in 2016 with Chadwick Boseman in the title role, the “Black Panther” solo film finally gives the character of T’Challa/Black Panther the big screen real estate the character deserves, and Boseman, director Ryan Coogler and the film’s impressive supporting cast make the most of it.

“Black Panther” is set almost entirely fictional African country of Wakanda, a hidden fortress that is the most technologically advanced country in the world. At their disposal is an endless supply of an alien metal known as Vibranium, which the newly-anointed King T’Challa use for good, but if it falls into the wrong hands, could have global implications

. The threat becomes real when T’Challa’s long-lost cousin Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) finds his way into the Wakanda and challenges the king to his birthright to ascend to the throne.

Following his impressive turn in “Captain America: Civil War” in 2016, Boseman proves from the beginning of “Black Panther” that he can easily carry a film on his own, something fans of the actor already knew after his memorable turns as Jackie Robinson in “42” and James Brown in “Get on Up.” Boseman is no longer one of about a dozen principal characters he’s dividing time with, and he’s able to give T’Challa/Black Panther some depth because of it.

By Black Panther having a solo film, it also allows for other characters to be introduced into the story, which are wonderfully realized by the likes of Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Forrest Whitaker, Dana Gurira, Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis, Letita Wright and Daniel Kaluuya. The key to the film’s success is, while the action is intense, the sets are jaw-dropping and the special effects are spectacular, they never outweigh the story Coogler is telling. “Black Panther” gives more than enough room for its characters to breathe, and they create a memorable superhero film in the process.

Lammometer: 8 (out of 10)

AUDIO: Listen to Tim’s review of “Black Panther” on “The KQ 92 Morning Show” with Tom Barnard in the audio above.

Tim Lammers reviews movies weekly for The KQ92 Morning Show,” “KARE 11 News at 11” (NBC), “The Tom Barnard Podcast” and “The BS Show” with Bob Sansevere.

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com

Movie review: ‘The 15:17 to Paris’ deserves full salute

“The 15:17 to Paris” (PG-13)

If you go to director Clint Eastwood’s compelling new true-life drama “The 15:17 to Paris” to focus on the acting, you’re missing the point. Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler are not professional actors,  they’re re-enactors of the biggest story of their lives.  They were brought aboard the film by Eastwood to give its audience the only true perspective of what went into the trio of lifelong friends’ daring move to take down an ISIS terrorist armed with rifles and 300 rounds of ammunition to kill as many innocent people as possible on a passenger train bound for Paris in August 2015. Even if Eastwood would have cast the best actors in the business to play Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler, “The 15:17 to Paris” wouldn’t have had nearly as much impact.

The focal point of “The 15:17 to Paris,” naturally, is how the trio thwarted the terrorist attack, as Stone selflessly charged toward the gunman with a weapon pointed at him, a move that would have certainly been the Air Force member’s last if not for the fact that the terrorist’s weapon malfunctioned. As Stone desperately tried to subdue the terrorist, Army National Guard Specialist Skarlatos and Sadler jumped in and attempted to beat the would-be killer into submission until Stone choked him out. Perhaps even more amazing, Stone,

who was slashed and nearly had his left thumb cut off by the terrorist, ignored his wounds as he attended to a shooting victim with blood gushing from his neck.

The 1517 to Paris

Unfolding in the same natural way Eastwood’s harrowing true-life tale “Sully” did in 2016, Eastwood gives context to “The 15:17 to Paris,” first by examining how the three friends came to be as middle schoolers in Sacramento, California. Separated by different circumstance soon thereafter, their friendship endured, and the action picks up again as Stone joins the Air Force, Skarlatos enlists in the Army, and Sadler — never showing any interest in the military –sits it out but supports his best friends.

While “The 15:17 to Paris” is far from Eastwood’s best directorial effort, the film still shows how phenomenal of a filmmaker he truly is. Yes, the scene where the trio takes down the ISIS terrorist is masterfully done, but where Eastwood truly excels is finding a profound meaning in the trio’s back story. Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler were all bullied and were outcasts, and while they didn’t fit in at their school, they still found each other. If not for that fortuitous friendship and establishment of a solid foundation that guided them throughout their turbulent young lives, their destiny to save as many of 500 people on August 21, 2015, simply never would have been realized. For that reason alone, all those involved in “The 15:17 to Paris” deserves our full salute.

Lammometer: 8 (out of 10)

Tim Lammers reviews movies weekly for The KQ92 Morning Show,” “KARE 11 News at 11” (NBC), “The Tom Barnard Podcast” and “The BS Show” with Bob Sansevere.

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com

Movie review: Despite impressive cast, ‘Hostiles’ plods


AUDIO: Listen to Tim’s review of “Hostiles” on “The KQ Morning Show” with Tom Barnard. Segment begins 12 minutes in.

“Hostiles” (R)

Christian Bale leads an impressive cast in a film that never realizes its full potential in “Hostiles,” a meandering, post-Civil War period film from Scott Cooper (“Crazy Heart,” “Black Mass”). Finally expanding into theaters after an unsuccessful awards season run, “Hostiles” likely won’t have the steam to last long in theaters despite the best efforts of Bale and company.

“Hostiles” is set in 1892, when a well-regarded Calvary captain (Bale) is tasked by the U.S. president to transport a dying Cheyenne war chief (Wes Studi) and his family from New Mexico back to the chief’s tribal land in Montana. Reluctant to take on the mission because the chief was responsible for the deaths of several of his friends, the captain embarks on horseback with a traveling party for what is supposed to be his last mission before he retires. Sworn enemies at the beginning, as the captain and the chief trek through brutal territory where they are safe from no one, and eventually realize they must band together if they are going to survive the brutal environs.

Although “Hostiles” shows tremendous promise at the beginning, the film never gains any momentum, despite the best efforts of Bale, Studi and Rosamund Pike as woman who suffered a horrific family tragedy that the dangerous, unforgiving ride. The film moves as slow as the horses the cast members ride upon, as any moments of intensity are far outweighed by long, uneventful stretches that sadly lead to a predictable outcome.

Lammometer: 6 (out of 10)

Tim Lammers reviews movies weekly for The KQ92 Morning Show,” “KARE 11 News at 11” (NBC), “The Tom Barnard Podcast” and “The BS Show” with Bob Sansevere.

Copyright 2017 DirectConversations.com