After a packed schedule on the first weekend of March, and with a packed weekend coming up, we got a bit of a lull. In fact, the biggest releases were a pair of streaming offerings. See my thoughts on those, plus a criminally under-marketed and released musical, below! If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.
The Adam Project (Netflix)
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Zoe Saldana, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, Catherine Keener, and Walker Scobell
Synopsis: Last year, Shawn Levy and Reynolds paired for Free Guy, which was one of the most fun summer blockbuster releases. Now, they’re back with a new action adventure on Netflix, one that includes time travel, action sequences and a dose of comedy. And it works as a fun romp, a popcorn movie that should be a nice hit for Netflix. Reynolds is solid in the lead role and I enjoyed the supporting cast, though it felt like the film struggled to make the most of Garner, Saldana and Keener in particular, all of whom had under-developed characters. In addition, some of the CGI in the film doesn’t work well. The filmmakers attempted the kind of de-aging technique we’ve seen in a number of different projects. When it works, it’s a gift. When it doesn’t, it’s a bit laughable. Sadly, this film employed a somewhat laughable version that takes away from key sequences down the stretch. But I really enjoyed Reynolds and the way he played off of Scobell. The duo carries most of the film and they are engaging together. I also thought the film picked up steam in the final act when we get to Ruffalo, who produces some of the most emotional moments. Overall, it’s a fun and engaging watch that isn’t without a few flaws.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for violence/action, language and suggestive references.
Cyrano (Theaters, VOD)
Starring: Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison, Jr., and Ben Mendelsohn
Synopsis: I have often enjoyed the work of director Joe Wright, who’s tackled a variety of different periods and genres. He does so again with Cyrano, a musical adaptation that’s mostly faithful to its source material. It finds Cyrano (Dinklage) as a gifted swordsman and poet who is madly in love with Roxanne (Bennett). She, however, has no idea. Instead, she’s smitten with a new guard, Christian (Harrison), while fending off the advances of the Duke (Mendelsohn). Christian is smitten with Roxanne, but he can’t find his words. Cyrano provides the words and Christian provides the looks, but who has really captured Roxanne’s heart? This is a beautifully crafted film that’s blessed with a strong cast. Some of the musical numbers were quite powerful, and the choreography was beautiful. But it’s the work of Dinklage that is the highlight here. He can convey so much with his facial expressions. His performance is rich and emotional, and I appreciate the work of Bennett and Harrison, opposite him. This film received a poor marketing and roll out, but if you can find it, it’s well worth seeking out. I found it to be a delight.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for some strong violence, thematic and suggestive material, and brief language.
Turning Red (Disney+)
Starring: Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, and Wai Ching Ho
Synopsis: For the third time since 2020, Disney has opted to release the Pixar film straight to streaming and bypass theaters. It happened with Soul and Luca, and now Turning Red gets the Disney+ treatment. The film centers on a 13-year-old girl, Meilin (Chiang), living in Toronto in 2002. She’s trying to find her way in school and in life, dealing with an over-protective mother (Oh). One day, when her emotions overwhelm her, Meilin transforms into a Giant Red Panda. After first trying to hide the transformation, she learns it’s actually part of a family legacy that was once a gift and now feels like a curse for modern generations, including her mother and grandmother (Ching Ho). Like most Pixar films, the production values here are solid. I liked the visuals and the decisions to highlight a different kind of story and culture. Much of the personal connection for these films comes from connecting emotionally to the story. In the case of Turning Red, that didn’t happen for me. I enjoyed the film but I didn’t love it. Still, I think it’s a good addition to the Pixar library and worth catching, particularly for fans of animation.
Rating: Rated PG for thematic material, suggestive content and language.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.