Reel Reviews: Movies everywhere!

By on August 14, 2019

It’s a great time to hit the movie theaters for some good fun — and maybe a dash of serious thrown in for a proper mix. After several weeks of light releases new movies are everywhere. There’s a Dora the Explorer movie practically no one knew was coming (and even less are going to see). “The Angry Birds Movie 2” opened on a Tuesday night and I have no idea why. And the Fast & Furious franchise let out its ninth film (and hung onto #1 at the box office for its second week). Half of the top 12 films at the box office were new releases! But onto the flicks …

‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’

I indoctrinated my preteen son into the aforementioned franchise by taking him to see “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.” He’s a big Dwayne Johnson fan and wasn’t disappointed. This spinoff to the main series joins rivals Luke Hobbs (Johnson), a U.S. Diplomatic Security Service agent, and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), an ex-military mercenary who showed up in “Fast & Furious 6.” The two go up against a cybernetically enhanced (and familiar) bad guy, Brixton (Idris Elba).

This movie is just a lot of fun. From creative technology to hard-hitting one-liners “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” is a simple thrill ride including incredible car scenes, buddy humor, and a happy ending.

If these books by Alvin Schwartz (with really creepy artwork by Stephen Gemmell) scared the snot out of you as a kid, you aren’t alone. Now the film “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” is ready to frighten a whole new generation. Go see it… if you dare!

‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’

The number one new movie of the half-dozen releases this past weekend was “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.” Directed by André Øvredal (“The Autopsy of Jane Doe”) with a screenplay co-written by Guillermo del Toro (“The Shape of Water”) there was no way I was going to miss this film adaptation of the beloved children’s book series.

The beauty of this film has del Toro all over it; while it is comprised of material from children’s books, it reaches above the intended audience and appeals to a broad age group, especially because it is set in 1968. I describe it as a cross between the classic “Stand By Me” and the TV phenomena “Stranger Things” as it features a group of outcast friends, Stella Nicholls (Zoe Margaret Colletti), Ramón Morales (Michael Garza), Auggie Hilderbrandt (Gabriel Rush), and Chuck Steinberg (Austin Zajur), who are up against the forces of evil, which manifest from the children’s fears. The film touches on some of the popular stories from the books, but is delivered as a narrative of its own. It is also, most blatantly, set up for a sequel. Again, it’s another fun movie at the box office.

Red Rose Film Festival

And now for something perhaps a bit more serious. Red Rose Film Festival showings have started at Penn Cinema. On Aug. 7, the series presented the Nat Geo documentary “Before the Flood” and follows with a showing “Without Limits” on Wednesday, Aug. 14. Festival showings at Penn Cinema take place every Wednesday through Sept. 5. For more on the fest, visit

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