April is here and with it will come some bigger blockbusters. The Awards Season is passing and it’s getting close to summer. People are coming to the movies again, and that means bigger draws at the Box Office. But don’t worry, we’re still getting flooded by streaming films. This week featured a blockbuster in theaters and four streaming options, and I have reviews for all of them below! If you’d like to see more of my scores for films and thoughts, feel free to follow me on Letterboxd here.
Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood (Netflix)
Starring: Jack Black, Zachary Levi, Bill Wise, Lee Eddy, and Milo Coy
Synopsis: This animated feature comes from director Richard Linklater. Though it spins a fictional story in part, mostly it’s a look at childhood in Texas in the 1960s, culminating in the night of the Moon Landing. Black serves as the narrator, guiding the journey of Stan (Coy) as he goes through the events of his film, interacting with his parents (Wise and Eddy) and being recruited for a secret NASA mission. The film uses a style of animation to bring the story and actors to life in a new way, something Linklater has employed before. This feels more like a charming slice of life than some of his other films. Many have found it heart-warming and I can see why. I thought the parts of the film that explored a different time in life were engaging though, overall, it was just OK. The fictional interludes didn’t totally work for me and I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to take away at the end. But it is a fun and engaging film, something a little different to add to the Netflix catalog.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for some suggestive material, injury images, and smoking.
Better Nate Than Ever (Disney+)
Starring: Rueby Wood, Lisa Kudrow, Norbert Leo Butz, Aria Brooks and Joshua Bassett
Synopsis: This latest Disney+ film centers on a middle schooler, Nate (Wood), who dreams of hitting it big on Broadway. He isn’t the most popular kid in school, but he believes in himself. One weekend when his parents are away, Nate and his best friend Libby (Brooks) sneak out and head from Pittsburgh to New York City so Nate can audition for the Lilo and Stich musical. There, with the help of his aunt (Kudrow), he hopes to make his Broadway dreams come true. Wood has plenty of talent and some natural charm, but this film often feels a little stiff. Some of the musical sequences were charming and there were a few amusing moments, but overall, this felt like a dull production. Perhaps it will play better with younger audiences but it just didn’t feel compelling or necessary despite some interesting moments.
Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements, a suggestive reference and mild language.
The Bubble (Netflix)
Starring: Karen Gillan, David Duchovny, Keegan-Michael Key, Fred Armisen, Leslie Mann, Pedro Pascal, Kate McKinnon, and Iris Apatow
Synopsis: The latest comedy from Judd Apatow is meant to be a sendup of the quarantine time we all endured as part of the COVID 19 Pandemic. It follows a group of actors that are working on a Bubble Production to produce the latest installment of a popular, if shallow, action franchise. They all arrive to make a movie but, as one might expect, things don’t work out as planned. With a fun cast and an interesting premise, I was hoping this would be a decent little comedy. It isn’t. The run time bloats to over two hours, which is about two hours longer than it should be. There are some interesting moments, I suppose. I enjoyed the Tik Tok creation scenes. But mostly it’s strange and dull. It fails to develop and compelling characters or have much of an engaging story. It feels like a waste of the talent involved and a film that could be safely skipped.
Rating: Rated R for language throughout, sexual content, drug use and some violence.
Moonshot (HBO Max)
Starring: Cole Sprouse, Lana Condor, and Zach Braff
Synopsis: In the latest from HBO Max, we find Walt (Sprouse) and Sophie (Condor) as a pair of young people living on Earth while dreaming of Mars. Sophie’s boyfriend has been stationed up there for months, but her fear of flying has kept her grounded. Walt has long dreamed of a voyage to Mars, but his lack of means, and failure to qualify for the mission team, has left him behind. When they both take a leap and board a shuttle for Mars, their uneasy friendship has the potential to spark into something more. This is a romantic comedy of sorts set in the future (2049) and focusing on space. Braff shows up in the latter stages of the film as the man who created the Mars colony and adds some laughs. Overall, this goes in the direction you’d expect and while Sprouse and Condor are fine in the lead roles, this mostly ends up being just OK. It’s cute at times, but forgettable.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for some strong language and suggestive material.
Starring: Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Jared Harris and Adria Arjona
Synopsis: Sony has long tried to build a cinematic world with the Marvel characters for whom it owns the rights. While it’s found success at times with Spider-Man, it’s been more difficult moving on to ancillary characters. Enter Dr. Michael Morbius (Leto), and the cinematic origin story for him that has been oft delayed. At times it seemed to be as a result of the pandemic, but it’s most recent delay from January to April 1 portended other potential issues. Seeing the film, it’s clear that the pandemic was only part of the issue. This is probably the most straight-forward character Leto has played in years, and yet it’s not a great experience. Smith and Harris are decent actors, as is Arjona. But none of them are given much to work with here in a film that is a slog, one that seems to mostly aim to start a franchise. In fact, the two scenes in the closing credits indicate the hope for a larger world. But who would want to see it? This is a total misfire, creatively and one that will probably kill the hopes of a future franchise for Sony before they even get started. At least I hope it’s dead.
Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, some frightening images, and brief strong 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.