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T.A. Moreland

T.A. Moreland

Don’t miss, Deadpool 2 [MOVIE REVIEW]

In Deadpool 2, the 11th installment of the X-Men series, thing are going well for Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) until he loses a loved one. When he attempts to join her on the other side, he learns that he has to do more good in this world before he can move to the next. His first step is to assist a young, troubled mutant. However, Cable (Josh Brolin) gets in the way of that effort leading Wilson to put together a new team of X-men to fight his old nemesis.

Critiquing Deadpool 2 is easy. If you like the mutants’ series, this episode will not disappoint. And Deadpool 2 gets a See It! rating. It has all the battles, humorous dialogue and over the top action scenes which made the first Deadpool film a success. Ryan Reynolds breathes an everyman type of charm into the lead character. He’s funny and flawed which makes him more credible.

One downside of the mutant series is the lack of racial diversity. The main characters are overwhelmingly white males. However, the creators do embrace black women characters. There’s Storm who was played by Halle Berry in four of the X-Men films. In Deadpool 2, Leslie Uggams returns as Blind Al, Wilson’s confidant. And joining his new team in this film is the half German and half African-American, Zazie Beetz. Her mutant skills are exceptional marksmanship and hand-to-hand skills, and probability-altering powers.

However, due to the overall lack of cast diversity, Deadpool 2, receives a “C” for cast diversity.

It’s rated “R” (for strong violence and language throughout, sexual references and brief drug material) and is 111 minutes in length.

Ultimately, Deadpool 2 is a See It!

Don’t Join The Book Club [MOVIE REVIEW]

They’ve been friends since college, and get together once a month to discuss the book of the month. Diane (Diane Keaton) is recently widowed after 40 years of marriage. Vivian (Jane Fonda) runs a five-star hotel and only gets involved with men she could never fall in love with. Sharon (Candice Bergen) is still recovering from her divorce of almost two decades. Carol's (Mary Steenburgen) marriage slumps after 35 years. The book of the month, the salacious 50 Shades of Grey has the friends reexamining their own situations.

The Book Club is simply not worth the time. It’s Dead on Arrival. First, the characters are not interesting. Even for a comedy, they simply lack the depth to make this film worthwhile. It’s not the performers; it’s the weak script. Further, while the four women are all supposed to be the approximately same age, having attended college at the same time, it’s obvious that Mary Steenburgen is younger than her costars and is in fact 15 years younger than Jane Fonda.

There’s also not a credible subplot. Diane’s love interest Mitchell (Andy Garcia) is obviously younger than her (10 years in real life). He’s a pilot whose invention reducing wind drag on airplanes has made him wealthy but for some unexplained reason, he still works as a commercial pilot. Thus, this rich guy who’s in a profession where he meets plenty of women decides to pursue a much older, very ordinary widow. Is this possible? Of course. Is this likely? Of course NOT!

Speaking of Garcia, he is the only one keeping this film from getting a D- minus in cast diversity. This Hispanic (Cuban) actor has a starring role in what would otherwise be one of the least diverse films I have seen in years.

The Book Club is rated PG-13 (for sex-related material throughout and for language) and is 104 minutes.

Ultimately, it is sad that such talented actors are bound together in this losing production. It’s Dead on Arrival.

Go in to see Breaking In [MOVIE REVIEW]

After her father’s sudden death, Shaun Russell (Gabrielle Union) and her two children, Jasmine (Ajiona Alexus) and Glover (Seth Carr) make the several hours drive to his large estate. Shaun, who was estranged from her dad, decides to put his house for up sale immediately. But little did she know that there would be four sinister characters hiding inside, more interested in the contents of the house than she is. These men have no qualms about destroying anything or anybody to get what they want. Shaun has to draw deeply into all her physical and mental skills to protect her children and herself.

From the start, Breaking In quickly becomes suspenseful and dramatic, turning the first pleasant, almost boring scene into a shockingly violent one. Being only 88 minutes in length, it gets to the main storyline very quickly. Breaking In gets a See It! rating because it does what a spectacle of this type is supposed to do, keep viewers on the edge of their seats and wondering what happens next.

Gabrielle Union rises to the occasion in the lead role. She’s authentically tough and at the same time necessarily tender while guiding her children through this ordeal. But you can’t have a truly great hero, as Union is in this film, without a supremely wicked villain. Of the four thugs, Duncan (Richard Cabral) is the most heartless, and justifiably raises the ire of both Shaun and the viewing audience.

Another interesting cast member is Ajiona Alexus, who at 22, successfully plays Shaun’s young teenage daughter. Alexus and Union look so much alike, I checked to see if they are related. They are not.

RELATED: THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US IS A BIT BUMPY BUT YOU SHOULD SEE IT.

But Breaking In also is burdened by the weaknesses of this film genre. Characters who can be shot, stabbed, badly beaten but then miraculously recover to the point where they can run fast, climb to rooftops and engage in lengthy, full-blown physical battles. And there are also handguns that shoot an unlimited amount of bullets without being reloaded.

Gabrielle Union in the starring role in the movie Breaking in Photo 2 courtesy Universal Pictures 750x529Gabrielle Union stars in the thriller, Breaking In

While writer Ryan Engle created a strong black woman in Shaun, the two black male characters were either dishonest or disgustingly weak and ineffective.

As to our cast diversity rating, Breaking In gets an A-. First, the cast is small which limits the number of roles available. Blacks, whites and a Hispanic actor all have major roles. There are no Asian-Americans featured.

Breaking In is rated PG-13 for violence, menace, bloody images, sexual references, and brief strong language, and, it's a See It!

 

Fifty Shades Freed Entertains [MOVIE REVIEW]

Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) and Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) return in the third and final film series based on the bestselling Fifty Shades novels.

The film opens with Christian and Ana trading marriage vows, looking to a new life of shared love and luxury.

Of course, there’s a lot of sex, but Fifty Shades Freed, more than anything else entertains and it gets a See It! rating.

The story does strain credibility in an effort to bolster the story. In the scenes after the couple gets married, Anastasia behaves more like someone who just met Christian than someone who knows and agreed to marry him: She didn’t know he had a domestic staff at his apartment, he had his own plane, and that she will have a security detail following her around. Apparently, after the long and extensive history of sexual gymnastics, they don’t know each other’s viewpoint on having children.

However, the characters are fuller and richer than in Fifty Shades of Grey where they both seem empty and vacuous. In this edition, they are more interesting and more balanced characters. While sex can be a draw to a movie, there has to be more to a film for it to succeed. Here there’s drama and amusing dialogue.

Fifty Shades Freed gets a B+ for cast diversity. Set in Seattle, a city in which people of color make up about a third of the population, the film has a diverse group of people of color in supporting and background roles.

Fifty Shades Freed is rated “R” for strong sexual content, nudity, and language and it is approximately 105 minutes in length. Fifty Shades Freed will be worth your time and money.

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