Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Told in multicolor hues that would make a frappuccino unicorn whinny and packed to the gills with gee-whiz gadgetry, action and laughter, James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (B+) is most successful when it examines the unconventional family dynamics of Marvel’s outer space superheroes. With baby on board (Groot, that is, and his highjinks are precious), the Guardians’ shipmates encounter Peter’s father and Gamora’s sister, among assorted new characters, and must reflect on their place in the universe. Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana and Dave Bautista display natural chemistry and charm. It’s like a Corleone saga with blasters and dick jokes. The new planets and plot lines are full of intrigue, and the dialogue is witty and wise. It’s an early summer movie that delivers the goods.

 

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Posted in 2017

Feature: McDonald’s Launches On UberEATS in Atlanta

McDonald’s Is Now Available for Delivery on UberEATS in Atlanta
More than 140 McDonald’s restaurants throughout Atlanta are available on the UberEATS app

Whether they are home, the office, or somewhere in between, McDonald’s customers in Atlanta can now enjoy their favorite burgers, fries, beverages and desserts delivered right to them through UberEATS. McDelivery on UberEATS is available at 143 McDonald’s restaurants throughout Atlanta.

“Delivery puts McDonald’s at our customers’ fingertips, allowing them to enjoy their favorite menu items whenever and wherever they want,” said Andrew Rebhun, McDonald’s director of marketing for the Atlanta region. “We’ve worked closely with UberEATS to optimize the delivery process – from easy ordering to seamless pickups and drop-offs – to ensure that our food is delivered hot and fresh in a timely fashion.”

Customers can place McDonald’s orders on the UberEATS mobile app or on UberEATS.com, using the same account they use to take Uber rides and track their order, as an UberEATS delivery partner brings their meal directly to them. The full menu at participating McDonald’s will be available for delivery with the exception of soft serve cones. An UberEATS booking fee applies to each order.

“With UberEATS, you can get the food you want, where you want it, delivered at Uber speed. We’re thrilled to partner with McDonald’s to give fans in Atlanta easy access to their McDonald’s favorites at the tap of a button,” said Peter Hsu, general manager for UberEATS. “People in Atlanta search for McDonald’s in the UberEATS app almost daily, so we’re excited to expand our reach and deliver what they’ve been craving.”
McDonald’s recently announced that delivery with UberEATS is expanding to additional U.S. markets following a successful pilot in Florida earlier this year. Delivery is just one way that McDonald’s is enhancing the customer experience through added convenience. McDonald’s continues to transform the restaurant experience through the addition of self-order kiosks, table service and digital menu boards and will roll out mobile order and pay across its 14,000 U.S. restaurants later this year.

About Greater Atlanta McDonald’s Operators Association
The Greater Atlanta McDonald’s Operators Association includes more than 50 owner/operators and operations managers, representing 289 restaurants in the 45 county Greater Atlanta area. Consumers can follow @McDonaldsATL on Twitter for ongoing news, promotions and deals from the restaurants in this area. McDonald’s USA, LLC, is the leading foodservice provider in the United States serving a variety of wholesome foods made from quality ingredient to millions of customers every day. More than 80 percent of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by local franchisees. For more information on McDonald’s visit www.mcdonalds.com or log on at any of the 10,000 Wi-Fi enabled McDonald’s U.S. restaurants. And consumers can download the McDonald’s smartphone application for deals and other offerings.

About McDonald’s USA
McDonald’s USA, LLC, serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to more than 25 million customers every day. Nearly 90 percent of McDonald’s 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by businessmen and women. Customers can now log online for free at approximately 11,500 participating Wi-Fi enabled McDonald’s U.S. restaurants. For more information, visit www.mcdonalds.com, or follow us on Twitter @McDonalds and Facebook www.facebook.com/mcdonalds.

About UberEATS
UberEATS is Uber’s stand-alone meal delivery app that makes getting food as easy as requesting a ride, whether you’re at home, the office, or the park. Uber is leveraging its technology and expanding its driver partner network to deliver food to hungry customers who can track their order, get an upfront delivery time, and use the same account they use to take rides. UberEATS is available globally in more than 70 cities, bringing millions of people the right food, for right now–at the tap of a button.

Posted in Industry News

Movie Review: The Circle (2017)

Despite being imminently topical as a meditation on privacy in the age of social media, James Ponsoldt’s The Circle (C-) manages to misfire in its major story arch, acting choices, thematic intensity and ultimate resolution. Emma Watson bears the burden of an underwritten role as the protagonist who joins an all-encompassing social networking company that takes an increasing interest in her personal life regardless of moral implications. Tom Hanks phones in a role as the is-he-smug-or-isn’t-he? company visionary. None of the actors in the ensemble is immune to the film’s deadly direction and trite dialogue. The film’s far-fetched plot points are made even more preposterous by their gaping holes. At least two incidents of miscasting lead to less than satisfying dramatic results and at utter lack of suspense. This movie is a major missed opportunity to connect and contemplate with the world of the here and now.

Book blogger Ashley Williams reviews the novel and the film, and we do a joint Q&A here on The Book Fetish blog.

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Posted in 2017

Movie Review: The Fate of the Furious

F. Gary Gray’s The Fate of the Furious (B-), the eighth film in the adrenaline-soaked automobiles and action series (and the reported first part of a three-film story arch of international espionage involving a cyberterrorism ring), logs a lot of miles to deliver its promised blockbuster goods. Heroes in hacking and hot-roding such as Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges are in fine form as Vin Diesel’s character is co-opted into a diabolical plan versus his mates by a criminal mastermind played by Charlize Theron. As Cipher, the film’s most interesting character, Theron singlehandedly ups the game. Her dialogue delivery is cunning, and it’s a hoot to watch her weaponize driverless cars on the streets of New York as easily as she mobilizes Russian submarines to torpedo our heroes. There’s a funny bit involving Jason Statham and a baby and a lovely cameo with Dame Helen Mirren (yup). Part of the fun of these films is the wanderlust, but Gray guides this entry all over the place. The pre-title sequence in Havana, featuring a fiery photo finish of a road race, may be the most simple and satisfying auto stunt in the whole movie. Later as we slog from Berlin to Russia with every type of pile-up possible, it occasionally feels like 13 year olds are going wild with their matchbox cars. Still, there’s an undeniable alchemy at work here, with machismo humor, high caliber stunts and those spoilers polished like a thing of beauty that keep folks clamoring for more.

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Movie Review: Colossal (2017)

If you’ve ever felt like the late-night denizens on a bender in your neighborhood bar or Uber pool could be as destructive to urban life as Godzilla, Mothra or a Giant Robot, you’ll find comfort in Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal (B-), a hit or miss sci-fi fantasy with grander repercussions than are actually explored on screen. Anne Hathaway plays against type as a flighty NYC writer perpetually experiencing alcohol induced blackouts. Coinciding with her rural reboot to her childhood hometown, a worldwide panic breaks out with a gigantic monster appearing in Korea, and our protagonist and the creature just may be connected. Hathaway solidly anchors a far fetched and somewhat plot hole laden experiment with a tinge of a theme about the ripple effects of domestic squabbles and their unintended consequences. It’s a good thing the film’s undercurrents lean a bit on the feminist since the men in the ensemble including Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens and Tim Blake Nelson are fairly dreadful. The effects are impressive for what seems like a cult indie. Ultimately, it wasn’t quite an OMG when I was hoping it would at least be a BFG.

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Posted in 2017

Early Movie Review: Gifted (2017)

The actor Chris Evans superbly inhabits the role of his young lifetime as a caretaker uncle of a child prodigy in Mark Webb’s moving melodrama Gifted (B+). It’s easy to dismiss the film as Good Will Hunting: Junior Edition, Kramer vs. Kramer: Special Girl Genius Unit or even what happens next if Manchester by the Sea were just a wee bit less melancholy; but under Webb’s assured direction, the drama about whether Evans is the right person to rear a precocious first grader (solid child actor Mckenna Grace) plays out with freshness and even some third act surprises. Evans’ character, the beach bum brother of a deceased math genius, shines in his role opposite Grace, and the bond they create is indelible. The cast is roundly excellent, from Jenny Slate as a quirky teacher to Octavia Spencer as a supportive neighbor and maternal figure. But it is great stage actress Lindsay Duncan (last seen as the acerbic critic in Birdman) who steals her scenes as the controlling grandmother whose dreams of solving the great mathematical challenges of our era fall on her pint-sized progeny. You can see much of the conflict coming from a mile away, and yet the characters are real, the dialogue crisp and the tearjerking earned. It’s ultimately an uplifting tale of the sacrifices one makes for family. It’s a smart film about smart people and should enrich those who discover it.

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Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Despite being overstuffed and overproduced, Emma Watson is by far the best special effect in Bill Condon’s live action Beauty & the Beast (B-) as the luminous leading lady who enlivens the fairy tale proceedings with enchanting radiance. Attempts to color outside the lines of the 1991 animated musical’s story and to lovingly re-create iconic classic sequences are both a mixed bag: the opulent “I want” song called “Belle” is simply smashing, awash with propulsive joy and resplendent color, but by the time an awkwardly unappetizing “Be Our Guest” is served up by curiously stilted anthropomorphic antiques, it’s more of a test of endurance than the whimsical showstopper that played out as a cartoon. A star-studded cast is squandered; set pieces seem limited to one village, one castle and one CGI forest; and the awkwardness of an inter-species romance feels a little strange when everyone isn’t rendered in line art. Luke Evans is quite good as Gaston, and there’s some new back story that provides intrigue for those concerned this will simply be a shot for shot remake. It’s good source material, so the original Alan Menken/Howard Ashman tunes are a delight (the new Alan Menken/Tim Rice song snippets aren’t as good). See it mainly for Watson’s game take on a Disney heroine (better still, see this actress in Perks of Being a Wallflower). Otherwise, there’s not much here that wasn’t there before.

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Posted in 2017

Movie Review: CHiPS (2017)

These sleazy riders receive a citation and a C- for being decidedly middle of the road. Dax Shepard wrote, directed and stars as Jon opposite Michael Peña’s Ponch in the buddy comedy film based on the vintage TV show CHiPS, and the West coast chill vibe is so pervasive that the movie nearly forgets to identify a protagonist or conflict. By the time it introduces eyebrow-raising vulgarities and daredevil motorcycle stunts, the flourishes seem largely superfluous. Peña is the comic find here, playing against his usual stoic dramatic type to quite enjoyable effect. Shepard exerts occasional wit and flair behind the camera and proves a deft physical comedian. Together the central duo has good chemistry but not much to do. 21 Jump Street did this same shtick better.

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Posted in 2017

Movie Review: Dave Made a Maze

Bill Watterson’s Dave Made a Maze (C-) is puzzlingly one-note, like a student film stretched incessantly to feature length and a bit too pleased with its random acts of peculiarity. When a frustrated thirty-year-old (Nick Thune, unconvincing) builds a cardboard labyrinth in his apartment and unwittingly “boxes” his hipster friends within a walled garden that starts taking on a life of its own, metaphors and minotaurs are unleashed with reckless abandon. The acting is largely unconvincing and sometimes insufferable, but there are some nifty practical effects and epic moments of stoner whimsy sure to charm. It’s hard to completely dislike a film in which the ensemble is temporarily re-cast with paper-bag puppets. There are a few surprises around some of the corners, and Meera Rohit Kumbhani is fiercely committed to her underwritten role. Ultimately the story simply can’t support its playful premise and starts to feel more like a dumpster dive than a flight of fantasy.

Note: A hit at the Slamdance Film Festival, DMAM was featured as the opening night movie of the 41st Annual Atlanta Film Festival. #ATLFF

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Posted in 2017

Movie Review: Kong: Skull Island

In the latest case of CGI taxidermy, Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island (C+) plumbs a menagerie of good ideas but doesn’t zero in on any of them well enough. Set in the post-Vietnam War era, a band of American explorers sets sail to an uncharted land filled with mythical creatures and must confront if they are the peacekeepers or oppressors of their new jungle. Early sequences have a fabulous Raiders of the Lost Ark or Rocketeer type vibe but devolve into video game overload style anarchy. The film is notable for the sheer randomness it allows its cast members to bite the dust. Frankly, others could have joined them. Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson are among the charmless ensemble. There were two to three spectacular action sequences stitched together with a lot of awkward exposition in between. I’ve had better times with animated apes at Showbiz Pizza.

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