Indian Country Today
Hello #NativeNerd readers,
This time around I am taking a shot (pun intended) in the latest Warner Bros. movie starring LeBron James in “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” Emily Blunt in the second installment of the audio-enhanced aliens of “A Quiet Place 2,” Chris Pratt in the Amazon original “The Tomorrow War” and my personal highly-anticipated film, “The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard” with Ryan Reynolds, Samuel Jackson, Salma Hayek and other impressive notable actors to include Antonio Banderas and Morgan Freeman.
My #NativeNerd scoring system
When reviewing movies, I employ the decimal system to a tenth of a point. So instead of 7 stars, I might give a 7.4 out of 10. Some movies aren’t an eight but deserve a little more than a seven.
Space Jam: A New Legacy
4.9 out of 10
My quick quote: “LeBron James actually pulled off a feel good movie, but for all of the good this movie shows, the commercialization grossly overshadows its message”
Synopsis: A rogue artificial intelligence kidnaps the son of famed basketball player LeBron James, who then has to work with Bugs Bunny to win a basketball game.
Hey whaddya know, LeBron James is actually a pretty funny and likable comedic actor. I felt quite a bit of inspiration from him considering he delivers a message of family love and support and the importance of hard work, success and going for everyone's independent dreams and personal calling in life.
I also appreciated Don Cheadle, the quirky Al-G artificial intelligence animated guy and of course his buddy, who has to be related to Microsoft’s Clippy.
But that said, yikes, this movie is the biggest example of film industry commercialization I have ever seen in my career as a critic. For those of you uncertain as to what films and projects Warner Bros. has created over the years? Look no more, it's all smashed into this film with extreme high pressure via CGI editing software and engineering.
Want to see a Harry Potter LeBron James? No problem. A King of Thrones LeBron James? No problem. The only thing I didn’t get to see was the brand new full back Warner Bros. tattoo on LeBron James’ back.
But you have to consider the source, in the world of the NBA, every player is a walking showcase covered from head to toe in sponsorship contracts. The arenas are named after sponsors, the shoes, the backboards and more. I won’t be surprised to see in the future such things as “this blown-out knee surgery will be brought to you by (insert product name here.)
The movie was as formulaic as they come, the hard-working patriarch who wants his children to follow in his footsteps, but one of the sons is a passionate artist, and no, dad won’t like it. But when the chips are down, the son’s artistry saves the day, they team up and everybody hugs at the end after dad says “Gee son, I never thought about it that way.”
I laughed a lot at the silly cartoon antics of LeBron with Bugs Bunny and the other characters, because hey, cartoons are fun. I do appreciate a message of inspiration, and a dad loving his son enough to let him follow his own path is a wonderful thing, but I just wish there would have been something that would have been unexpected.
Don Cheadle was funny, the NBA players were fun, I loved Lil Rel Howery as an announcer, as he truly is one of the best comedic actors in the industry in my view, I even liked the little A.I. dude that is likely Clippy from Microsoft’s cousin.
But considering there were an approximate 2,000 cast and crew on a multi-million dollar production just doesn’t sit well with me in terms of the over-the-top commercialization.
Your kids will likely love it, just be prepared to pony up for some new Space Jam kicks, lunch box or cell phone case.
A Quiet Place Part II
8.9 out of 10
My quick quote: “Emily Blunt does an exceptional job in a movie that ends a bit too soon — before it can get started in answering my unaddressed questions or do enough exploring”
Synopsis: Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path.
Emily Blunt is one of my favorite actors, as is John Krasinski, who is Blunt’s real-life husband and director of the second installment.
I enjoyed the movie, which picks up in a scattered way from the first film. A minor spoiler that likely most of you know about — and it is in the film’s description anyway is that aliens have made their way to Earth and though they are blind, they have enhanced hearing and the slightest noise by humans can quickly result in a deadly outcome.
The crux of the second film is the continued quest for survival by the remaining members of the Abbott family. Among the members is an infant, unaware that it’s cries can be dangerous for everyone, enter the need for oxygen tanks and a soundproof basket with an oxygen mask for the baby — a fantastic premise for the need to survive.
I won’t reveal any of the plot, but it does include explorations into a potential way to survive away from the terrible alien predators.
In my view, this is where I would have loved to see just a bit more outside of the Abbott family’s perspective. What does the rest of the world look like? What other families are out there seeking to survive? I understand this is a directorial choice, but the movie seemed over so fast, I longed for more.
I suspect this is a compliment, because I liked what I saw, but I was left hanging and wanting for more story. But the actors all did exceptional work to include Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe as the Abbott children.
A good film, and in my view, there is an opening for a third installment if John Krasinski wants to explore it any further. I hope he does.
The Tomorrow War
6.9 out of 10
My quick quote: “Chris Pratt is likable enough in this unique action-packed film, but it wasn’t serious enough to be a super-thriller, or funny enough to be an action-comedy”
Synopsis: A family man is drafted to fight in a future war where the fate of humanity relies on his ability to confront the past.
Chris Pratt plays Dan Forester, a biology teacher and former Green Beret soldier who gets drafted into a war from the future. The war is against aliens that came to Earth and the attrition rate for Earthlings is at less than 30 percent.
I first off have to applaud the filmmakers of the film because the concept is not one that I have seen before. I have consistently been impressed by the films produced by Amazon Studios and this film is among them.
Just FYI, the film was originally slated to be released in theaters by Paramount, but COVID restrictions resulted in the Amazon Prime release.
I like Chris Pratt, and I have since his first go-round in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” which remains to be one of my all-time favorite films.
In this film though, Pratt’s nice qualities had me struggling to believe that he was ever a Green Beret. I am certainly not saying he isn’t a tough guy or couldn’t handle it, but there are certain “tells” that I read as a former Army lieutenant and soldier that I pick up on. But then again, I knew some pretty goofy dudes in the military, and truth be told, I have to include myself.
But I feel that this is where the film sits on the edge, as if Pratt sat a bit on the fence on whether to be a complete soldier, or a bit of a school teacher. I wanted him to make a bit of a stronger choice.
Choose Deadpool or a Tom Clancy character, not both. At least in my opinion.
One fun stand out in the film was the relationship between Pratt and actor J.K. Simmons, who I really enjoyed watching. Their relationship is one of the best parts of the film. I encourage director Chris McKay to focus on that in the planned sequel to the film if he sticks with the project.
A fun film, with a unique concept. I look forward to the sequel and I am curious to see where it goes.
The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
7.5 out of 10
My quick quote: “I can’t get enough of the relationship between Ryan Reynolds and Samuel Jackson, throw in Salma Hayek, Morgan Freeman and Antonio Banderas and stick a fork in me, I’m done.”
Synopsis: The bodyguard Michael Bryce continues his friendship with assassin Darius Kincaid as they try to save Darius' wife Sonia.
Ok, I can actually see why many critics just don’t like the movie. The script is wildly over-laden with expletives, there are a ton of ridiculous marital conception jokes between Hayek and Jackson (the hitman and his wife) and Ryan Reynolds is just being Ryan Reynolds.
But all said, I was laughing my head off with all of the film's ridiculousness. And it really was ridiculous. I don’t know if I was in a serious mood and in need of some shoot-outs and ridiculous joke telling, but it worked for me.
Samuel Jackson and Ryan Reynolds are hilarious together and I really enjoyed their ridiculous banter.
Yes, of course, there is no way they could have escaped ten different times from when they were about to be tortured and/or killed. Yes, of course, there is no way Interpol would have allowed the egregious behaviors of country leaders, and so on and so on. But that’s why the movie works for all of its ridiculous antics.
Of course Sonia Kincaid (Hayek) is going to say the worst possible thing in front of nuns, of course Darius and Sonia (Jackson and Hayek) are going to love each other in over the top ways while killing everyone around them with a sniper rifle or battle mace, and of course Michael Bryce (Reynolds) only cares about his Triple-A bodyguard rating, is obsessed with seatbelts, afraid of gelato, and is constantly covered with the brains and blood of his enemies.
If you want something to make sense or not to fall apart in a myriad of gunfights, car explosions, f-bombs and headshots, go watch “On Golden Pond.” Otherwise, sit back and laugh at the antics of Reynolds, Jackson and Hayek (with a bit of Antonio Banderas and Morgan Freeman thrown in) and stop worrying about life for a while.
I thought it was pretty funny.