Friday, April 30, 2021

Netflix’s ‘The Vanished’ will keep you guessing until the very end

By Matt Pascarella

What started as an innocent camping trip quickly turns into anything but relaxing in this fast-paced thriller where anyone in the town could be a suspect. Are they? I felt like this movie ran the gamut of emotions and kept me wondering and on the edge-of-my-seat until the final minutes.

Paul (Thomas Jane) and Wendy (Anne Heche) are headed for a campground in their RV with their daughter Taylor (Kk Heim, Sadie Heim). When they get there, Paul and Taylor are going to go fishing.

As soon as they arrive at the campground, Paul meets Miranda (Aleksei Archer) who is there with her husband, Eric (Kristopher Wente) in their RV.

Shortly after Paul and Wendy arrive at the campground, Taylor goes missing; she was in the RV and now she isn’t. The police are called immediately in an investigation that takes a number of days. Paul and Wendy are informed that there is a prisoner on the loose. They are told to stay in their RV as the police have search parties all over looking for Taylor.

Wendy convinces Paul they need to go out and look for Taylor, despite the advice of Sheriff Baker (Jason Patric). Paul and Wendy go looking and things get more than a little off the rails.

After filing an official missing person report, they have a weird interaction with the campground’s groundskeeper, Justin (Alex Haydon). The investigation is taking a toll on all involved. Do some people know more than they are letting on?

On day three of the investigation, Paul and Wendy go out on the water with Miranda and Eric, in hopes to extract some information from them. When they get stuck on the water, accusations are made and it gets heated.

After a body turns up, Miranda disappears.

Tom (John D. Hickman) runs the convenience store on the campground and he and Justin have a conversation that made me suspicious of Tom. We learn more about Justin and the whole situation unravels further. Wendy continues to struggle.

Wendy comes across something very disturbing which could involve Taylor. It really seems like a member of the town could be involved in Taylor’s disappearance, but is that true? Where is Taylor?

This is an intense thriller with twists, turns and tense, dark moments. I found it to be a good mystery as there were many possible suspects in the town who seemed to be hiding information that may have led to Taylor’s disappearance. I was trying to figure out who the entire movie. In the end, I couldn’t figure it out. I was very surprised by the ending and it was one I found satisfying. This is a fast-paced movie that kept me engaged until the final minutes. It is worth your time, two thumbs up.

Available on Netflix. <




Friday, April 23, 2021

Hulu’s ‘Then Came You’ a romantic comedy that gets weird

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 97 minutes

Howard (Craig Ferguson) is the owner of Awd Inn in Scotland. Annabelle (Kathy Lee Gifford) is looking for ‘new everything’ as she describes it and is going to take a trip to many different countries, starting with Scotland. What follows is an ok movie that caught me a little off guard.

Annabelle is still hurting from the loss of her husband Fred, who died about a year ago. She has a box of chocolates with his ashes in them. When Howard (Ferguson) picks Annabelle (Gifford) up at that train station, they don’t get off to the best start. That quickly changes the more they get to know each other.

Later on, the two talk about their past loves and being stuck in a rut and settling for ‘enough.’ Both Annabelle and Howard have had tough pasts. The bond between the two continues to grow.

Annabelle is in the garden, talking to one of the only other staff members at Awd Inn, Gavin (Ford Kiernan), and he tells her there is a woman who is looking to financially take advantage of Howard. That woman is Clare (Elizabeth Hurley). Howard has a son (Calum Chisholm) who does not approve of Clare.

As it turns out, Howard and Annabelle may not have been completely honest with each other. A small fight between the two brings out the truth.

Howard and Clare have a talk. Annabelle seeks out an unexpected guest, Arlene (Phyllida Law), where Annabelle and Howard learn some new information. At this point in the movie, things took an unusual turn. That’s all I can say.

After visiting and discussing this with Arlene, Annabelle plans to continue her trip and asks Howard to drive her to the train station but not before some other weird stuff happens.  It also gets a little mushy and emotional here.

Does Howard drive her to the train station? What did the two find out from Arlene?

I was expecting something moderately funny and sappy when I sat down to watch this. I think Craig Ferguson is funny and used to watch him on “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.” He has the same type of dry wit in this movie, but not the same type of humor from his late night days. I would say this movie more than exceeded my expectations as a comedy; it is very funny in spots. The romantic part of the movie is relatively predictable and pretty tame, until that meeting with Arlene. I thought I knew exactly what was going to happen and was more than surprised when a very sharp right-hand turn was taken. I still have questions. The end is kind of sweet if you can overlook that one detail. I’m on the fence about this one. One bowl of haggis down.

Available on Hulu. <

Friday, April 16, 2021

Movie Review: Netflix’s ‘Thunder Force’ promises strength, mildly delivers

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 106 minutes

In March of 1983 a massive pulse of interstellar cosmic rays struck the Earth. This triggered genetic mutations in a few individuals and gave them the ability to unleash unimaginable superpowers, making these few a new breed of human known as Miscreants. Thunder Force tells the story of two friends who join forces to try and stop these Miscreants that are destroying everything. While this movie delivers on action, it falls a little flat in pace as well as delivering comedically.

It’s 1988 and a young Emily Stanton (later played by Octavia Spencer) is getting picked on in school. Emily is super focused on finding a way to stop the Miscreants because they killed her parents.

A young Lydia Berman (later played by Melissa McCarthy) sticks up for Emily and even gives a bully a taste of his own medicine.

Lydia and Emily become friends and remain so through high school. Then they drift apart. Fast forward many years after high school to Chicago and Miscreants are still causing problems for the city. Lydia wants to see Emily again as their high school reunion is coming up. Lydia is nervous about contacting her to see if she is going. Although Emily writes back, she does not show at the reunion.

In hopes of seeing Emily and bringing her to the reunion, Lydia stops by Emily’s office and learns that Emily has made progress in figuring out how to stop the Miscreants.

However, Lydia breaches Emily’s research and has to stay at the lab. Lydia has stolen one of the superpowers Emily had worked years on.

Emily begins to receive the second superpower she has developed. Each of them now have one superpower. Soon, Thunder Force is born. They will stop Miscreants, like The Crab (Jason Bateman), a human-crab hybrid who robs a convenience store which Thunder Force stops.

The King (Bobby Cannavale) is running for mayor and is using Miscreants to help him get what he wants. One in particular, Laser (Pom Klementieff) has been wreaking havoc all over the city.

As Thunder Force gains notoriety, The King gets angrier and angrier. Lydia also finds herself attracted to The Crab.

The King has a plan to get back at those who don’t like him. Thunder Force must find a way to stop him. After a careless act by Lydia, she and Emily get in an argument and a newswoman wonders ‘are we better off without Thunder Force?’

Can Lydia and Emily stop The King and Laser before it’s too late? How will they do it? Will they remain friends?

I had higher hopes for this strong-casted movie and it did not deliver. I was expecting more comedy and it’s not that funny a movie. It is action-packed with nice special effects. It also has a decent soundtrack. It might be worth a watch, but I only give it one strip of raw chicken up. <


Friday, April 9, 2021

Movie Review: D.B. Cooper – an aviation mystery

By Matt Pascarella

Running Time 1 hour, 27 minutes

It’s an unsolved mystery of epic proportions. 10,000 feet above Washington state a man jumps from a 727 with $200,000.

Despite this crime being well-known, you may have never heard the name D.B. Cooper before. HBO’s documentary “The Mystery of D.B. Cooper” sheds a little light on the only unsolved act of air piracy in American history. And this story gets weirder and more interesting as it goes on.

Thanksgiving eve, 1971, Portland, Oregon; a passenger boards a Boeing 727 and a short time later tells a stewardess he has a bomb. He demands $200,000 and four parachutes. When the ordeal is over, this passenger, known as D.B. Cooper, has jumped from the plane 10,000 feet above Washington state and no trace of him has ever been found.

This documentary is a mixture of in-person interviews, reenactments and file footage from individuals involved with Cooper’s case and several individuals who suspect they have met or know the real D.B. Cooper.

There are interviews from the crew of the 727. Stewardess Tina Mucklow describes her interactions with Cooper from that day. Other members of the crew tell what it was like the moment they knew Cooper had left the aircraft.

The documentary speaks to authors and FBI agents as well as suspects.

Jo Weber was married to Duane Weber from March of 1978 to March 1995. She recalls several things her husband did and said which makes her believe this man she was married to for almost 20 years may not have been who he said he was.

Robert Dayton is suspect number two. Dayton became Barbara Dayton in 1969 and there is some speculation D.B. Cooper could have been a woman.

L.D. Cooper is uncle to Marla Cooper who gives an account from when an 8-year-old Marla overheard her uncle planning with her dad about a secret event.

The final suspect, at least mentioned in this documentary, is Richard McCoy who hijacked a Boeing jet in 1972, a short time after Cooper’s hijacking. The details of McCoy’s hijacking and Cooper’s are extremely similar. Could they be the same person?

There are many interesting details to this case. Roughly 40 hours after Cooper leapt from the 727, a search party was constructed to scour the area where he may have been.

In 1980, an 8-year-old boy found a few bundles of money near the Columbian River Beach, along the Oregon and Washington Border. How did that money get there? Was it buried there by Cooper?

The case of D.B. Cooper has fascinated many and I am no exception. How does a man just disappear into thin air? And leave little to no trace? And continue to baffle experts? I knew a little about this case, but never knew of the various suspects and how they got involved or were related to Cooper – that made this documentary more interesting. I would recommend any fan of an unsolved mystery watch this and see what they can piece together. Do you think he’s still alive?

Two giant bags of money up; 10,000 feet up.

Available on HBO Max. <

Friday, April 2, 2021

Movie Review: Netflix’s ‘Yes Day’ wholesome family fun

By Matt Pascarella

This is a fun movie for the family. Imagine there was a day where your kids made the rules and the parents had to say “yes.” There are rules and limitations, but the premise is that kids get to call the shots for 24 hours. And anything can happen.

Before their kids, Allison Torres (Jennifer Garner) and her husband Carlos Torres (Edgar Ramirez) said ‘yes’ to everything, they went on many adventures.

Fast forward to three kids later and ‘no’ has become the new ‘yes.’ Allison says ‘no’ 50 times an hour as it is all part of the job of parenting.

The Torres family is a typical hectic, somewhat messy family. Each parent has very different styles of parenting. Does this sound familiar? Carlos is more likely to be a little less restrictive with the kids, whereas Allison is the opposite. This is evidenced by the music they listen to when they each take their kids to school.

During a parent-teacher conference, Allison and Carlos are shown a video where their son Nando (Julian Lerner) describes Allison as a captor and dictator. Allison does not want to be known as the one who always has to drop the hammer.  

Allison and Carlos are at a loss of what they should do when a coach recommends Yes Day, where for 24 hours, the kids call the shots and the parents have to say ‘yes.’

The oldest daughter, Katie (Jenna Ortega) describes her mom as a fun killer and thinks there’s no way she can go a whole day without saying “no.”

Allison agrees to a Yes Day and bets Katie that if Allison says ‘no,’ during Yes Day, she’ll let Katie go to a concert – unsupervised. If she goes the whole day saying “yes,” she’ll attend the concert with Katie.

Katie, Nando and Ellie (Everly Carganilla) make a list of five big activities for Yes Day; the final activity is a big, big one.

The activities bring the Torres family closer together.

Yes Day gets thrown a little when Carlos wants to quit. Although there are very specific rules about traveling specific distances during Yes Day, Allison allows an exception. Although the exception is very fun and very cool, a discovery on Katie’s phone derails Yes Day even more. Police become involved and things definitely don’t go as planned.

Who ended up in jail? Can the family salvage what is left of Yes Day? Was Yes Day a good idea? Who wins the bet?

Like I said before, this is a great movie I think the whole family will enjoy and maybe even relate to a little. It’s heartfelt and has a nice message of the importance of family – no matter how crazy they make you. Based on the book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Yes Day is a real thing families do. Maybe it’s something you and your family would try – if you dare.

Two giant pink plush gorillas up. <