Archive for the ‘Sequel’ Category

History of the World, Part II

March 11, 2023

Over forty years ago, Mel Brooks was on a roll. His seventh directed film, History of the World, Part I, made a lot of money. I remember loving his films. Today, I’m not so sure they would hold up. Perhaps moments, but an entire movie? Probably not. Someone at Hulu decided to create a sequel, History of the World, Part II which follows the Mel Brooks format precisely. Lots of sight gags and irreverent scenarios. I tried watching this new incarnation. I chuckled at Abraham Lincoln hitting his head over and over again. I chuckled at the youngest Romanov child as an influencer. And that was about it. My sense of humor has evolved over my lifetime. Not saying Mel’s humor is any less sophisticated than something that might make me laugh out loud. Just saying it’s not my sense of humor. 2 out of 5. Next.

History of the World, Part II currently streams on Hulu.

Downton Abbey: A New Era

May 23, 2022


I am happy to report the second Downton Abbey film, Downton Abbey: A New Era continues the tradition of being a perfect love letter to fans. It’s no easy feat to create sequels which hold up, but this one shines beautifully. When was the last time Reel Charlie went to the theater? I can tell you. It was 2019, before COVID. And we saw a little known film called you guessed it, Downton Abbey: The Motion Picture. I actually prefer to watch films on my beautiful OLED TV in the comfort of home. But we not only trekked to the theater to see this, we went to an indie theater in Stamford, CT at 11:30 on a Saturday morning. There were only a handful of others in attendance. It was a great experience and we supported a local business.

The film begins with a wedding. Fans can guess, but no spoilers here. And ends with a death and finally a birth. In-between half of the upper and lower floors head off to the French Riviera. The other half stay behind and host a film crew. Lots of new characters and of course nearly all of the favorite series regulars return. The two stories bounce back and forth. There are funny lines (especially from Maggie Smith), and tearful scenes. There’s gorgeous scenery and sets and costumes – all the perfect trappings of what Downton is know for – Downton gives good costume drama. The grandchildren are older, but the focus is still on the older generations. Old Lady Grantham, her children, and grandchildren and the people who serve them. Regular followers of Reel Charlie know I just can’t get enough of this series. Thanks to my dear friends Nina and Joe, I have the original on Blu-ray, which we watch regularly whenever we need a pick me up. And the first film on Blu-ray as well. This new film will find a place along with the other Blu-rays as soon as the film is released on disk. I adored Downton Abbey: A New Era. Tell all your Downton friends to be sure not to miss this special event! 5 out of 5.

Downton Abbey: A New Era currently screens in movie theaters across the country and the world.

7/2022: Received the Downton Abbey: A New Era 4K disk this week. The clarity is a feast for the eyes. Makes this delicious second film even better than when I watched it in the theater. And packed with extras! Truly a perfect treat for fans. 5 out of 5.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

September 23, 2018

Brought home Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom to see if there’s any fun left in this franchise. The short answer is no. I made it through half the film. To their credit, JW:FK clocked in at just over two hours, much better than the usual action filmmaker ego of nearly three hours. Still, this Jurassic sequel failed to hold my attention. Bland, bland, bland. Yes, it’s chock full of girl power. But that’s no longer enough if the films continue to be schlock. We don’t want female equality to be schlock. We want equality and better films. 2 out of 5. Next.

Ocean’s Eight

September 2, 2018

Ocean’s Eight gets its disk and streaming release this week. I caught the film on Blu-ray this weekend thanks to my secret media acquisitions librarian super power. I had heard very mixed reviews from friends on this all-female sequel. I wanted to love it. I didn’t hate it. But it was flatter than the original – well the George Clooney Ocean’s Eleven film since that was a remake from an earlier film from 1960, Ocean’s 11 with the brat pack (Sinatra, Davis, Martin, Dickinson, Bishop et. al). This go-around, the eight in question are Sandra Bullock playing Danny Ocean’s sister Debbie, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Askwafina, and Sarah Paulson. The end result felt lacking to me, but simply watching Cate be punk, Anne be a diva, Helena channel Betsy Johnson, Rihanna take on a stoner tech persona, and Sarah switch from suburban Mom to mastermind is worth the ride.  It’s not a perfect film. But it’s crazy good cast elevates it enough to enjoy. And then there’s the location shots at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And there’s virtually no violence in the film. Just a couture romp of a jewelry heist. 3 out of 5.

Blade Runner 2049 (Blu-ray)

January 15, 2018

I try hard to love Sci-Fi. Novels are easier. They come in all sizes, shapes, and stripes. Hollywood’s adaptations tend to follow a set of standards I find boring and reductive. So I came to Blade Runner 2049 with my usual sense of hope mixed with dread. Luckily the film is not awful. But is it great? Definitely not. Certainly the style, the sets, the CGI, the mood of the film rockets to the top. And it’s not even the story, adapted from the Phillip K. Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? that’s mediocre. The core premise of Dick’s idea proves fascinating: what if AI were to reproduce? What would that mean for humanity? Unfortunately, the film doesn’t dig deep enough to answer any of these questions. It uses well tread Hollywood images to keep the film from being too cerebral. There are quiet, dirty, macho heroes. There are a lot of naked women. Please someone make a film with quiet, dirty, female heroes and lots of naked sexy-toy men. To the film’s credit, there are two strong female characters who unfortunately are underutilized. There are one-dimensional villains. There’s always too much violence. Why does a human have to shoot an AI in the head with a gun? Why can’t they deactivate the unit? And my biggest gripe with these colossal films – they are too damn long. Two hours and 43 minutes? Really? Did the 150 million run out before the editing crew got there? Filmmakers need to check their ego and keep these films around 90 minutes or go into episodic television work.

So in the end, did I hate Blade Runner 2049? No. Did I fall asleep and have to rewind part of it? Yes. Did I sigh over the same ole same ole? Definitely. 3 out of 5 because there are elements of the film worth experiencing. Although maybe you should just read the book.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

August 29, 2017

So I really loved Guardians of the Galaxy so much I gave it a 4 out of 5 which is enormously generous of me for a big Hollywood blockbuster film. I came into the sequel hoping for fun and distraction from our cruel world. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 started out hopeful with some good dialogue and outstanding special effects. Soon it morphed into too many battles and the same old shtick. Even Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead) and Sean Gunn (Gilmore Girls) couldn’t save this. Too bad because the franchise started out strong. Oh well, the curse of the sequel. 2 out of 5. Next.

The Best Prop in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2! (YouTube)

April 29, 2017

Glad to see I’m not the only one focused on Dave Bautista’s biceps. Leave it to straight funny man Chris Pratt to lead us to the well of muscle. From YouTube,

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 premieres May 5, 2017. Here’s hoping it’s even funnier than the original!


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