‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ Film Review

Grade: A

‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ looks like Oscar bait. It has an Oscar-nominated actress in the lead role, a compelling score by composer Harry Gregson-Williams, emotional scenes where actors cry at the drop of a hat, and the words “Based on a true story”, but this is one of the few times where I can say that this attempt at being thought of during Oscar season really pays off. ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ tells the story of Antonia (Chastain) and Jan Zabinski (Johan Heldenbergh), who run the Warsaw Zoo in Poland, yet have to find a way to survive when the German army starts bombing, causing Jews to flee with nowhere else to go, but to find shelter in the destroyed zoo.

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‘Wonder Woman’ Film Review

Grade: A-

Gal Gadot may be a sight on screen, with her lush lips, flowing locks of black hair, and ability to kick ass, yet so is the gorgeously shot atmosphere that feels like a breath of fresh air after trudging through the grey area in ‘Man of Steel’, the dimly-lit/darkened hallway of ‘Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice’ (where Gadot first appeared as Wonder Woman in a supporting role in order to set up the ‘Justice League’), and the neon-drenched city of ‘Suicide Squad’ (I would say we shrunk ourselves through a rainbow of colorful bricks in the play set for ‘The Lego Batman Movie, yet whether you count is an addition to the DC Expanded Universe is up to you. I assure you, it’s not.). It feels like it has been forever since we experienced the beauty of being outside again, and director Patty Jenkins has given us something to admire. (Even though I had a good time in the city of ‘Suicide Squad’, and will come back again when the sequel comes out.) The air of Themyscira is fresh, while the atmosphere of London, England during WWI is busy in the daytime, yet quiet and peaceful at night, with the occasional fight/riot to give us an adrenaline rush.

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‘Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie’ Film Review

Grade: A-

It’s a funny coincidence how two superhero movies are playing over the same weekend. Not only that, but the two superheroes I am talking about have been long overdue for a movie. While almost everyone else is seeing ‘Wonder Woman’ – which took 75 years to bring to the big screen as a solo effort (She had a ‘Lego’ incarnation of her in ‘The Lego Movie’ and ‘The Lego Batman Movie’, as well as a supporting role in ‘Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice’) – I went to watch my childhood dream come true, with ‘Peanuts Movie’ style of brightly colored animation and funny juvenile humor that captures the original source material’s spirit without trying to be too serious. (‘Baywatch’ should have taken notes.)

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‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’ Film Review

Grade: B-

What is the threat Captain Jack Sparrow has to face this time around? Might I remind you that he fought Captain Barbossa and his crew of pirates to retrieve the Black Pearl in ‘The Curse of the Black Pearl’, found treasure containing a beating heart in ‘Dead Man’s Chest’, faced his inner madness and later fought Davy Jones in ‘At World’s End’, and went on a quest with former jilted flame (played by Penelope Cruz), and the ruthless Blackbeard in ‘On Stranger Tides’. Here, at first, he is nowhere to be seen until – 15 minutes in – he is found sleeping with a governor’s wife while napping off one of his drunken hangovers in a giant bank, which causes a funny chase that kicks off the fun, high-octane action that the series held on to for so many years. While that may not be the actual challenge Sparrow has to face, ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ seems to focus on the humor more than the quest written out for the heroes: Seeking out Poseidon’s ancient, all-powerful trident with the power to get rid of any curse placed on everyone, mostly pirate.

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‘Baywatch’ Film Review

Grade: D-

While Jeff Gordon’s ‘Baywatch’ tries to be a more ridiculous film adaptation of the popular TV guilty pleasure of the same name – which starred David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson (who each make brief- respective -cameos) – it barely feels like a comedy. One rule about turning a popular TV drama into a feature-length comedy reboot is to not take the material too seriously (Given that the show is famous for its use of slow-motion with Pamela Anderson jiggling her way through the beach with her bosoms, why would anyone?) and just have fun; It is the same rule which made the ‘Jump Street’ movies and ‘Starsky & Hutch’ work while leaving not only references to their respective source material, but saving the special surprise – which is the original actor cameo – for us to enjoy. ‘Baywatch’ does have the ingredients necessary for a good film adaptation of a successful TV show, but it feels like there is not much to work with, and we feel spoiled; Also, there is too much of a tonal inconsistency floating above the surface of ‘Baywatch’.

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‘Alien: Covenant’ Film Review

Grade: D

I’m not sure what to say about ‘Alien: Covenant’, but as far as I can remember, it is one of the most disappointing science-fiction movies since ‘Morgan’. Here’s a little fact! If you remember my review of last year’s ‘Morgan’, I mentioned how the director of that little film was Luke Scott, a.k.a Ridley Scott’s father. Why do I bring up this fact? Well, if you know the movies ‘Alien’ and ‘Prometheus’, then you know the name ‘Ridley Scott’. He has made acclaimed movies (‘Gladiator’, ‘Blade Runner’, ‘The Martian’), and he has made critically divisive movies (‘The Counselor’, ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’). What Ridley Scott wanted to do was to capture the feeling audiences felt when watching ‘Alien’ for the first time, from its opening titles which fade in one by one to the ‘Alien’ theme by Jerry Goldsmith, to its plot which critics have felt was similar, while also serving as a sequel to the divisive ‘Prometheus’, which was a semi-prequel to ‘Alien’ that worked as a visually stunning stand-alone movie, but sadly feels like a video game more than a horror movie worthy of the ‘Alien’ name.

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