“Downton Abbey: A New Era” – gorgeous, but lacking that je ne sais quoi

“Oh dear. There’s only one reason old ladies summon their lawyers.”

Story: Returning to our favorite bunch of aristocrats and their family of choice, the Earl of Grantham’s former son-in-law Tom is marrying again, to sweet (and in the last film, surprise) heiress, Lucy Smith. Meanwhile, Dowager Countess Violet finds the inheritance of a French villa she’d put off as a joke is indeed true, now that its owner has passed. At the estate, Lady Mary must contend with a film crew that wishes to use Downton as a location, inside and out. How will the old guard deal with new tech? How will the staff deal with movie stars? And why is Violet acting so suspicious? Tune in, won’t you?

Genre I’d put it in: Gorgeous Historical Soap
Release Date: 2022
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Based on the TV series by Julian Fellowes

Gotta say: I loved Downton Abbey when it was a TV series. I even enjoyed the 2019 film. But Era, while giving me a lovely look back at the characters I’ve come to adore, feels like a ship that can’t seem to keep the wind in its sails. The myriad of plots and subplots – a riveting mainstay in earlier iterations – feel forced, or even a bit…cramped? Yes. Cramped.

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In Queue Review – “Senior Year”!

“Once you’ve blown someone’s dad, you realize they’re not that scary.” [Wow that sounds absolutely batshit out of context.]

Genre: Time-Jump Fish Out Of Water Crazyness
Release Date: 2022
Where I Watched: Netflix

Gist: Stephanie Conway was a new kid joke…until she became the most popular girl in high school. But a sabotaged cheer stunt put her in a coma for twenty years. Now that she’s awake (and 37), she’s determined to live out her high school dreams, in the hope that that will give her The Perfect Life going forward. She did it once, she can totally do it again. Right? Absolutely. No problem with changing times or anything. Carry on.

Talky talk: Is this movie good? I mean, totally not, duh. It’s cliché AF and kinda simplistic, with “twists” that can be spotted a mile away. But there are moments where this hits my Aughts nostalgia, while mixing in 20s sensibilities, making me love it. Even though the leftist stereotypes are cranked to eleven in a way that’s really annoying – does anyone but extreme conservatives believe this level of “woke” sillyness?

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Baltimore Screening Pass-palooza – “Top Gun: Maverick”!

Before hitting the multiplex, please consider the health risks involved with participating in group gatherings at this time. Take very good care of yourselves – I wanna see you on the other side.

Ready to see what Tom Cruise’s Top Gun character has been up to since the original film? Synopsis!

After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy’s top aviators, Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. When he finds himself training a detachment of TOPGUN graduates for a specialized mission the likes of which no living pilot has ever seen, Maverick encounters Lt. Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), call sign: “Rooster,” the son of Maverick’s late friend and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Nick Bradshaw, aka “Goose.”

Ready? Let’s go!

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“Firestarter” (2022) – barely a spark

“Daddy, something feels wrong in my body…. The bad thing.”

Story: 11 year old Charlie McGee’s parents really love her. And they’re also suffering from the after-effects of signing up for a weird Government test that enhanced their psychic abilities. So guess what Charlie can do? (Um, poster. Movie title.) Now that that shadowy government office knows where Charlie is, they want her. Y’know, for completely innocent reasons. Cue the pyrotechnics!

Genre I’d put it in: Interesting Remakes That Tank Quickly
Release Date: 2022
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. A remake/reboot of the 1984 film.

Gotta say: So. Here we are, you and me. And this film is something that exists now. Well, I’m not going to scream and cry about how this movie changes so much of the overall story of King’s book and the ’84 movie. That’s giving this movie too much power. I’m fine with Blumhouse doing Blumhouse things, and then rolling the dice. Blumhouse is going to do, what Blumhouse is gonna do, but I just wish that what they did here was at least halfway decent.

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Fandango Pass Giveaway – “Firestarter”!

Ready for Friday the 13th THIS FRIDAY? I know – it’s the only one this year, so let’s make it count. Why not spend some time with Uncle Stevie and the new Firestarter reboot? Synopsis!

In a new adaptation of Stephen King’s classic thriller from the producers of The Invisible Man, a girl with extraordinary pyrokinetic powers fights to protect her family and herself from sinister forces that seek to capture and control her.

Ready? Let’s go!

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In Queue Review – “Popcorn”

“ARE YOU READY?”

Genre: Homage Horror
Release Date: 1991
Where I Watched: Shudder

Gist: Maggie and her fellow film students are gonna throw a big huge horror film fest, so their department can raise some funds. They decide to go all out, with schlocky oldies known for their in-theater gimmicks, but what they don’t know is that there’s a killer who seems to want Maggie and her friends dead…and that could be tied to an old film the kids find while setting up, and the nightmares Maggie’s been having lately. Yo, killer; don’t mess with a horror movie marathon, you jerk. Not cool.

Talky talk: Popcorn is an early 90s horror homage that feels like an early 80s slasher, and it doesn’t get nearly as much love as it deserves. I blame that one the film’s original trailer and poster, that made it look like an Italian Giallo rather than the gleefully silly American (though filmed in Jamaica) slasher it is. From the fantastic cast (many of whom we’ve seen in other genre/80s fare), to the obvious love this film has for the works of gimmicky B Movie creators like William Castle, this is a horror movie lovers horror movie. And I adore it. The creators have the same attention to detail with the “classic movies” playing during the marathon as they do with the overall story, making this film a fun watch on many levels.

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“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” – Messy, Maniacal, and, of course, Mad (#SpoilerFree)

“We will see what kind of Doctor Strange you are.”

Story: Okay, so we’re all on the same page with the MCUniverse, right? Magic, monsters, multiverses, time travel, yada yada? Cool. Because after everything Doctor Strange, Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, and your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man have been doing lately, there seems to be some craziness going on in all the universes. Time to universe hop, do other things here in 616, and meet all sorts of new folks Our Gang can ask for help, or need help overcoming. Want more? Sorry; Kevin Feige is breathing down my neck, making sure I spoil nothing. Like, I can feel his breath…how does he do that? (And seriously, walk into this one with all the MCU 411 you got prior, but otherwise as blind as possible, for maxi-moff enjoyment.)

Genre I’d put it in: Crazy Sequels That Gear You Up for A CHANGE IN THINGS
Release Date: 2022
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Original: Based on Marvel comic book characters. Part of the MCU.

Gotta say: If I can tell you one thing about this film – and believe me, there is A Lot I’m not really allowed to – it’s that this film really should be titled Scarlet Witch and the Mountain of Issues. Because though the doc is name dropped in the title, it’s his fellow Avenger who’s got the bulk of the character arc in this film. And yes, before you see Madness, you need to be up on your WandaVision and What If Disney Channel knowledge to get the maximum payoff when things go nutso.

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TrailerWatch “Don’t Worry Darling” shows a sinister side of perfection

Olivia Wilde showed her impressive directorial chops with the comedic romp Booksmart, but how’s she gonna be with suspense? By the looks of this trailer, not too shabby. Synopsis!

Alice (Florence Pugh) and Jack (Harry Styles) are lucky to be living in Victory, the experimental company town housing the men who work for the top-secret Victory Project and their families. Life is perfect, with every resident’s needs met by the company. All they ask in return is unquestioning commitment to the Victory cause. But when cracks in their idyllic life begin to appear, exposing flashes of something much more sinister lurking beneath the attractive façade, Alice can’t help questioning what they’re doing in Victory, and why. Just how much is Alice willing to lose to expose what’s really going on in paradise?

I’m getting serious Stepford Wives and Get Out “beware the too good to be true” vibes with this one. Spooky! Don’t Worry Darling hits theaters September 23, 2022.

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Baltimore Screening Pass-palooza – “Downton Abbey: A New Era”!

Ready to get your 1920s glam on? Because seriously, there’s gonna be a photo booth, giveaways, a costume contest and more. Synopsis!

From award-winning creator Julian Fellowes comes the motion picture event DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA. The much-anticipated cinematic return of the global phenomenon reunites the beloved cast as they go on a grand journey to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the Dowager Countess’ newly inherited villa.

All the details are in this beautiful invitation – click on it to get yourself passes – won’t you join me?

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Columbia Screening Pass-palooza – “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”!

We’ve all been waiting for this since WandaVision…and now it’s time. Synopsis!

In Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the MCU unlocks the Multiverse and pushes its boundaries further than ever before. Journey into the unknown with Doctor Strange, who, with the help of mystical allies both old and new, traverses the mind-bending and dangerous alternate realities of the Multiverse to confront a mysterious new adversary.

Ready? Let’s go!

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