Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of JUNGLE CRUISE

Jungle Cruise, rated PG-13
***

Jungle Cruise, the latest Disney film to be inspired by one of their theme park attractions, is an entertaining action/adventure film, that includes a lot of humor, though may be too dark and scary for very young children. The film, which had a budget of approximately $200 million, was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra (The Commuter, Non-Stop), and had a team of five writers.
The film opens in 1916, with MacGregor Houghton, played by British comedian Jack Whitehall, trying to convince the Royal Academy in London to finance an expedition into the Amazon to find the Tears of the Moon tree, the petals of which are said to have healing powers. While he is speaking, his sister, Lily, played by Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place), sneaks into the archives of the Academy and steals an arrowhead from the last Amazon expedition, which is key to unlocking the location of the tree. Lily steals the arrowhead just as German Joachim, played by two-time Emmy nominee Jesse Plemons (Fargo, Black Mirror) is set to collect it after making a large donation to the Academy. Continue reading


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My Review of MARY POPPINS RETURNS

Mary Poppins Returns, rated PG
****

Mary Poppins Returns is a delightful live-action/animated film free of any content issues that the entire family can enjoy. It’s one of my favorite films of the year (and my wife’s favorite!) The film is released 54 years after 1964’s Mary Poppins, which won five Oscars. The new film is directed by Oscar nominated Rob Marshall (Chicago). The film is written by Marshall, two-time Oscar nominee David Magee (Life of Pi, Finding Neverland), and two-time Emmy winner John DeLuca (Tony Bennett: An American Classic), based upon Mary Poppins stories by P.L. Travers. The film’s cast includes two Oscar winners – Colin Firth and Meryl Streep – and three Oscar nominees – Angela Lansbury, Julie Walters and Lin-Manuel Miranda. The all-new music is by five-time Oscar nominee Marc Shaiman (Sleepless in Seattle, Patch Adams, The First Wives Club, The American President, Hairspray) and three-time Emmy nominee Scott Wittman (Smash, The 82nd Annual Academy Awards, Hairspray). Cinematography is by Oscar winner Dion Beebe (Memoirs of a Geisha). Marshall chose to use hand drawn animation in the film to go along with the live action sequences.  The film has received four Golden Globe nominations – best performance by an actress, best performance by an actor, best picture and best original score.  The film had an estimated budget of $130 million. Continue reading


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My Review of A QUIET PLACE

A Quiet Place, rated PG-13
***

A Quiet Place is a well-made terrifying and intense psychological thriller/horror film about a family trying to survive alien killing creatures that hunt by sound. The film is directed by three-time Emmy nominee John Krasinski in just the second film he has directed (The Hollars). The film is written by Krasinski and Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, the latter two also wrote 2015’s Nightlight. The musical score is by two-time Oscar nominee Marco Beltrami (The Hurt Locker; 3:10 to Yuma).  The film was shot in New York and has a small, but solid cast.
The film is about the Abbott family trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Krasinski (The Office), stars as father/husband Lee and real-life wife Golden Globe winner Emily Blunt (Gideon’s Daughter), stars as mother/wife Evelyn. They speak sign language to their children, son Marcus, played by Noah Jupe (Suburbicon), and their deaf daughter Regan, played by the real-life deaf actress Millicent Simmonds (Wonderstruck). Lee and Evelyn urge their children to be as quiet as possible so as not to attract the creatures.
We are told at the beginning of the film that it is “Day 89”. The world has been taken over by creatures who hunt and kill based on sound. We aren’t given the back story on what happened or who these creatures are. The family lives in a sound-proofed abandoned farmhouse. They use paths of sand to deaden the sound and also mark the steps in the house that won’t creak.
As time moves forward, we see that Evelyn is pregnant. We have to wonder how she will be able to deliver a baby without making a sound? What about the baby crying?
While the film focuses on the family trying to survive and Lee and Evelyn trying to keep their children safe, it also shows us the family trying to live as normal a life a possible, given the circumstances. We also are given insights into their relationships, including Lee’s strained relationship with daughter Regan, who believes her father hates her because of something that happens early in the film.
There is minimal audible dialogue in this film, with much of the communication being via sign language. The film is efficient, running just 90 minutes, and always keeping the viewer on edge.
Content issues include terrifying violence. There are no sexuality or language issues.   Themes include sacrificial love, family and survival.
A Quiet Place is a well-made and directed terrifying story of survival. The music helps to build the suspense throughout the film. It is well-made and acted but is certainly not for the faint of heart.


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Movie Review ~ Sicario

SicarioSicario, rated R
***

In this film, directed by Denis Villeneuve, Emily Blunt stars as Kate, an FBI agent working in Arizona. She and her partner Reggie (Daniel Kaluuya), are heading to a house in Chandler to rescue kidnap victims. However, what they find is much more than they expected. They find dozens of dead bodies, bagged in plastic behind the drywall. On top of that, a deadly explosion kills two of her team members. It’s the work of a powerful drug cartel from Mexico led by Manuel Diaz.

Kate is asked and agrees to work with a group led by Matt (Josh Brolin). Is he FBI? CIA? We don’t know. He says he’s a Department of Defense advisor, but Kate isn’t convinced. But soon enough Kate is aboard a private jet that she is told is going to Texas, but lands in Mexico. Also on the jet is the mysterious Alejandro, from Colombia, played by Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro, who delivers another Oscar-worthy performance.

This leads to a powerful and tense opening scene in which they work with Mexican authorities to extract a high level cartel member and take him back over to the United States. All of this is so that they can get to Diaz.

We see nude corpses hanging in Juarez, Mexico and can feel the danger, expecting gunfight to break out at any time. Kate, who plays by the rules and is trying to figure out just what is going on, is bothered by what she is seeing, but she’s not in charge.

The title of the film – Sicario – means “hitman” in Spanish. This film earns it’s “R” rating for strong violence and a significant amount of adult language, including the inappropriate use of God’s and Jesus’ names. There is also the corpses showing full frontal nudity, and some sexual content, which is abruptly interrupted.

The acting performances are excellent and the film is well-made. You really get a feel for how dangerous the U.S./Mexican border is, as well as the city of Juarez, Mexico, which experienced about 3,000 murders in 2010.