“The Current War” tells the story of how electric lights came to the United States. Thomas Edison, played by Benjamin Cumberbatch, was the premier inventor of his time. He was also the premier ego. George Westinghouse, played by Michael Shannon, was an industrialist and businessman. Edison wouldn’t team with Westinghouse, because he wanted all of the fame. Money did not matter to him. So Westinghouse beat him at his own game. Thrown into the mix was Nicolai Tesla, who was brilliant but scattered. This movie was a bit slow, but a good history lesson. The acting is good, but the pace is not. It’s the kind of film to watch at home. An interesting side note: “The Current War” was supposed to come out in 2017, but it was distributed by the Weinstein Company at the time that all of the allegations about Harvey Weinstein came out. So it was shelved until now. Not a bad movie, but not a great one,.
I am not a huge zombie fan, but I enjoyed “Zombieland” ten years ago. The same cast is back in this sequel. Instead of just killing zombies, the film focuses on comedy. Woody Harrelson is hilarious. Jesse Eisenberg, who is usually so uptight, is still uptight, but in a funny way. And Emma Stone, who got her start in the original, lets loose. The funniest scene occurs when a couple of dopplegangers show up and bond with the gang. Also, there is a new character, a vacuous, no-brain Valley Girl that they find in a mall of all places. You will laugh throughout this film. Be forewarned: there is a lot of blood and swearing.
I have not watched the series “Downton Abbey”, so I wasn’t sure if I would appreciate the movie. The producers were smart because they spent a few minutes explaining what had happened and who the characters are. The plot involves a visit by the King and Queen and the preparations for the event. That may not seem like much of a plot, and it isn’t, but it is an excuse to show off the characters. It is the story of the upper class as well as their servants. Basically it is a very proper soap opera, like “Dallas” or “Dynasty” minus J.R. or Alexis. The acting is excellent. As usual Maggie Smith steals every scene she is in. Fans of the show will love this film, but for those of us who are not groupies, it was quite enjoyable.
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is the continuation of “Sleeping Beauty”s” villain’s story. In the original, we learned that Maleficent has a heart. In this one she is jealous because Prince Charming wants to marry her adopted daughter, the princess. She doesn’t mix well with the normal royals, especially the prince’s mother played by Michelle Pfeiffer. When she and Angelina Jolie get together it is a battle of the cheekbones. We learn where Maleficent comes from and just how evil a queen can be. Not as good as the original and a little bit darker, this film is campy fun. Angelina, even when she just stands there, commands the screen and Pfeiffer gives her a run for her money. If you like this type of movie, you will enjoy this one. If you don’t, do not waste your time.
“The Addams Family” is a new computer animated film based on Charles Addams’ comic characters. I always loved the macabre humor and play on words. This version is more geared to the younger set. The live action versions from the early 1990’s were a little more adult in their humor (aka: darker), but this one still has some funny moments. Especially funny were the children, Wednesday and Pugsley. And of course Fester was a riot. Die hard fans may think this film is too tame, but it is not bad.
I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to see “Gemini Man”, the new Will Smith action movie. In this one Smith is an assassin who, when he retires his agency puts a hit on him. The twist is the person assigned to the task. I can’t say more without giving away the plot. The film is tautly directed by Ang Lee who helmed “Brokeback Mountain” and “The Life of Pi”. There is a lot of action and twists. The motorcycle chase scene is one of the best I have seen and the way that the vehicles are used as weapons is awesome. Clive Owen plays one of those villains who works for the “good guys”. This is an above average action thriller with some different plot twists.
“Judy” tells the story of Judy Garland’s final, tragic year. Almost everyone knows her story. Addicted to drugs, she has no money, no home and because of her erratic behavior, is unemployable. Even fifty years after her death Judy Garland is still quite recognizable, so portraying her is a real gamble. Renee Zellwegger’s performance is nothing short of amazing. She inhabits the roll. Her make up is spot on and she captures the essence of her personality, pathos, and humor. Zellwegger is able to show how she came alive on stage, even singing some of her famous ballads. When I saw her performing these songs I was in awe of how she captured Garland. The movie itself is so-so, just a retelling of a story that has been publicized to the max and is quite depressing. Like Jamie Foxx in “Ray”, Rami Malek in “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and Marion Cottilard in “La Vie en Rose”, Renee Zellwegger’s performance should go down in history as one of the greatest on the screen.