‘Thunder Force’ doesn’t push the cinematic needle

“Thunder Force” – Marvel Studios made 20 feature films that eventually led to directors Anthony and Joe Russo’s beyond-massive two-movie epic, “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018) and “Avengers: Endgame” (2019) with a combined 5 ½ hours of screen time.  The cosmic storyline needed every single one of those 330 minutes because Thanos (Josh Brolin) – the chief antagonist – wiped out half of the universe’s population, and The Avengers attempted to bring trillions of living creatures back from oblivion. Talk about big stakes! Well, “Thunder Force” is a superhero comedy set…

Movie of the Week: ‘The Florida Project’

With the Oscars arriving this month (April 25), we’re looking back at films and performances that the Academy missed.  Director Sean Baker’s “The Florida Project” was our #1 film of 2017, but it sadly wasn’t nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.  Thankfully, the Academy nominated Willem Dafoe for Best Supporting Actor, however, he lost the gold statue to Sam Rockwell in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”.   We love Rockwell in that film but feel that Dafoe’s restrained performance – as a manager of a budget apartment complex called The Magic…

‘Godzilla vs. Kong’: Ignore the brutal plot mechanics. Stay for the brutality.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” – The world has battled COVID-19 for over a year now, but in March 2021, Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, and Toho offer another fight, a monumental one to distract us from our torturous pandemic-troubles.  On celluloid-paper, “Godzilla vs. Kong” is the most significant cinematic clash since “Alien vs. Predator” (2004), Rocky Balboa vs. Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV” (1985), “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979), and hey, “King Kong vs. Godzilla” (1963). Well, director Adam Wingard – who helmed the effectively creepy murder-spree horror film “You’re Next” (2011)…

Movie of the Week: ‘Wild Rose’

With the Oscars arriving rather quickly – April 25 – AHFW is looking back at some flat-out glorious films and performances that the Academy missed.   This week, we’ll turn to 2019 and “Wild Rose” (2019).  Jessie Buckley plays Rose-Lynn Harlan, a single, Scottish mom of two, and she has her hands full with raising her kids while trying to reach her dream: making a living as a country singer in Nashville. Well, Buckley delivers a dream performance in “Wild Rose”, AHFW’s movie of the week! “Wild Rose” – “Whosever heard…

Movie of the Week: ‘Wendy and Lucy’

The Film Independent Spirit Awards nominated Kelly Reichardt’s “First Cow” for Best Picture, Director, and Supporting Actor (Orion Lee), so let’s look back at our favorite Reichardt-film, “Wendy and Lucy” (2008). “Wendy and Lucy” (2008) – Wendy (Michelle Williams) – a 20-something hoping for a streak of good luck – is driving to Alaska to look for work, and her dog Lucy is by her side and along for the ride.  They’re taking a no-frills trip, but Wendy hasn’t received many luxuries in life, as we learn through a couple…

‘Cherry’: This Holland/Russo brothers vehicle takes uninspired turns

“Cherry” – “My one true accomplishment was not dying.” – Cherry (Tom Holland) Cherry, a 21-year-old Iraq War vet, finds himself back in the U.S., and more specifically, a high school gymnasium.  A big band celebrates his and other local heroes’ return with genuine pomp and circumstance, but Cherry wasn’t impressed with his two years of service, so he broke the fourth wall and declared the aforementioned statement. Cherry breaks the fourth wall a lot in directors Anthony and Joe Russo’s adaptation of Nico Walker’s novel, a loosely-based autobiographical book,…

‘Coming 2 America’ is a more of a nostalgic celebration than a winning comedy

“Coming 2 America” – It’s been 33 years since we last saw Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and his best friend Semmi (Arsenio Hall) travel from The Kingdom of Zamunda to Queens, NY.  Why Queens?  By name alone, it must be the locale where Akeem can find a worthy match for a royal wedding, right? “Coming to America” arrived in theatres in June 1988, and Murphy and Hall’s buddy flick quickly became one of the most memorable comedies of the decade, at least to me, a Gen Xer, who was on…

Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina make a delightful and dynamic duo in ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’

“Raya and the Last Dragon” – “At its core, it’s an action movie.” – screenwriter Qui Nguyen, March 2, 2021 “Note to self, don’t die.” – Raya (Kelly Marie Tran) And how…and please don’t! In Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon”, Raya (Tran) – an early-20-something – and her trusty companion Tuk Tuk – a 10-foot long, pill bug/armadillo-like, four-legged friend, who best resembles an organic Fiat 500 – carry us on a dazzling animated journey.  Their quest is to search for the last remaining dragon, Sisu (Awkwafina), and find…

Celebrate the late Niki Lauda’s birthday with ‘Rush’

Niki Lauda would have been 72-years-young today (Feb. 22), but I am very thankful that Daniel Bruhl played the Formula-1 legend in director Ron Howard’s “Rush”.   “Rush” was my #2 film of 2013, and in my humble opinion, Bruhl deserved the Best Actor Oscar that year. Lauda was alive to see Howard’s film, although he didn’t like the rough cut.  Lauda was always a perfectionist (haha), but he gave his approval after seeing the premiere in a packed theatre, and as far as Bruhl’s portrayal of him:  “I think he…

Movie of the Week: ‘Blood Simple’

With Frances McDormand lighting up Hulu and theatres in Chloe Zhao’s heartbreaking take on 21st century America in “Nomadland“, AHFW’s Movie of the Week dials back to the 20th century, 1984 to be exact and Ms. McDormand’s feature film debut “Blood Simple”. “Blood Simple” – The Coen Brothers’ spectacular and sinister noir-offering takes big, bold steps in small-town Texas, a place where everyone knows your name, even if you wish that they didn’t. Well, Abby (Frances McDormand) wishes that she wasn’t married to Marty (Daniel Hedaya) any longer and has an…