Game Night

Swanner: Game Night is an event that couples without children get to enjoy. It’s where they gather their friends together to have alcohol and snacks in the comfort of someone’s living room. In this case Max (Jason Bateman) and his wife, Annie (Rachel McAdams), are very competitive game players. Enter Max’s successful brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler), who is back in town and has offered to host a mystery game night where someone gets taken and the rest of the attendees must solve the mystery. The problem here is Brooks isn’t the wall street guy he claims, and when the kidnappers arrive they aren’t the actors who were hired for the game, they are the real thing. Now Max and his friends actually have to solve a real kidnapping before something really bad happens.
Directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, along with screenwriter Mark Perez create this fun mix of twists and turns to keep any party guest entertained. They did a wonderful job of creating a terrifying situation with all of the party-goers oblivious to what’s really going on. As they slowly realize that what’s happening is real, it just adds to more laughs. The rest of the talented cast includes Sharon Horgan, Billy Magnussen, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury and Jesse Plemons.
I’m really hoping this is a big hit for Bateman. He’s always been a favorite with his brilliant dry wit and his amazing comic timing. He should really be a much bigger star. The film has everything going for it: a very funny script with capable directors working with a cast of funny actors. The film is rated R because the situations, as funny as they are, get intense and the language gets real. Not a film for the little kids because they shouldn’t see how much fun their parents once had before they ruined their parents lives.
Swanner: Three and 1/2 stars
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Black Panther

black-panther-official-photo015-1500404504764_1280wSwanner:  “Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to take his place as King. However, when an old enemy reappears on the radar, T’Challa’s mettle as King and Black Panther is tested when he is drawn into a conflict that puts the entire fate of Wakanda and the world at risk.
 
I went with the studio’s studio summary because the story is quite complicated, even though it very easy to follow visually. Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa, with Michael B Jordan as Erik Killmonger, the man who challenges T’Challa for the throne. Director Ryan Coogler (Creed), brings a fresh look at the superhero genre with co-writer Joe Robert Cole, using the source material to move this Shakespearean drama in new exciting ways. 
 
As good as Boseman and Jordan are in the film, I found myself watching the women in the film. Like a good pride, the male watches over while the females protect. Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, and Letitia Wright play the women warriors that kick ass while the two leads growl. The production value is so amazing, and the whole look of the film is breathtaking. I know this is really more of an origin story that introduces us to these great characters, but promises more to come. I love how many critics thought Marvel didn’t have enough superheros that could command the big screen. Wrong again, because this king rules.
Swanner: 3 1/2 stars

Early Man

early_manSwanner: Early Man follows Dug, a cave man, who’s tribe has stayed in the stone age while the rest of the world had entered the bronze age. As the evil lord Nooth wants to take Dug’s land, our stoneaged friends are challenged to a soccer match where the winner takes all. From the folks that made Chicken Run and the Oscar winning, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit: where you can always expect a fun story with a funny script, and this does not disappoint.
Director Nick Park and writers Mark Burton and James Higginson do stop action better than anyone has since the Rankin Bass days of the 60’s and 70’s. Stop action is usually looked as a lost art form, but the talented animators here take the silliness of the look and movement and apply it beautifully to this caveman story.  Wes Anderson actually made a good movie when he made The Fantastic Mr. Fox, a stop action film.
The voice cast is filled with well known actors including Tom Hiddleston, Eddie Redmayne, Maisie Williams, Timothy Spall, Richard Ayoade, Mark Williams, Miriam Margolyes, and even the director, Nick Park. The films from this studio are always welcome with their different view on life and their nonsensical stories. I must say that the story is a bit light from what we’re used to getting, but it’s 90 minute running time couldn’t handle much more, and most won’t even find it missing.
Swanner: 3 stars

Peter Rabbit

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Swanner: Peter Rabbit tells the story of Peter and his family, and how they battle old Mr. McGregor, who won’t share his garden with them. After McGregor dies, all the animals take what is theirs until Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) shows up to follow in his cousins footsteps. Peter Rabbit is a live action/animated feature of how a family of bunnies save the farm and ultimately do the right thing in the end. Rob Lieber and Director Will Gluck bring to life the story based on Beatrix Potter classic novel The Tales of Peter Rabbit.

Most of the characters in the film are animated. The rabbits, pig, birds, and other farm animals are all animated; Thomas McGregor and Bea (Rose Byrne), the main humans in this story are not. Bea is McGregor’s neighbor, who lives on the other side of his garden. Bea is a friend to the animals and most definitely a love interest to the new, younger McGregor. The voice cast consists of James Corden, Margot Robbie, Sia, Sam Neill, Elizabeth Debicki, Daisy Ridley, and Ewen Leslie.

Peter Rabbit is much like Paddington in the sense that the kids in my audience were just as entertained as I was, almost like they were seeing a completely different film. With the exception of the terrible Annie, Director Gluck really knows how to entertain an audience with his Easy A and Fired Up!. The script is fun and funny with James Corden’s signature comedy being added to take full benefit of his talent. The good thing is they didn’t set the film during Easter so the film can be watched at any time of the year when you’re looking for something funny and sweet.

Swanner: 3 stars