THE CALL OF THE WILD
Rating: About Ratings
Opens: 02/21/2020
Running Time: 100
Rated: PG
Cast: Harrison Ford, Dan Stevens, Omar Sy, Karen Gillan, Bradley Whitford and Colin Woodell.
Crew: Director: Chris Sanders. Producer: Erin Stoff. Executive Producers: Michael Green, Diana Pokorny and Ryan Stafford. Screenwriters: Michael Green and Jack London (Novel: The Call Of The Wild"). Cinematographer: Janusz Kaminski.
REVIEW: By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

Jack London’s beloved 1903 novel, “The Call of the Wild” has been adapted to the big screen countless times. There’s the 1923 silent film along with Clark Gable and Loretta Young’s 1935 classic movie and the 1972 version starring Charlton Heston and Maria Rohm.

Now Hollywood is taking another stab at “The Call of the Wild” with Harrison Ford (“Star Wars: Episode IX—“The Rise of Skywalker”) perfectly cast as the gruff prospector, John Thornton.

“The Call of the Wild” is a live action adventure from director Chris Sanders (“How to Train Your Dragon”) with CGI animals that look realistic. The other big, gruff star of the film is Buck, the adorable and heroic St Bernard-Scotch collie. His movements and features come courtesy of motion-capture maestro Terry Notary (“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”).

For all the talk surrounding the CGI in “The Call of the Wild,” Sanders and his crew skillfully pull it all together and make this a surprisingly thrilling and dramatic tale. It’s also a beautifully rendered movie with amazing shots of Canada/Yukon that really would even be more breathtaking viewed on an IMAX screen.

The film stays relatively faithful to London’s novel. When we first meet Buck he’s living in Santa Clara, California and giving his owners fits because he’s just so big and spunky. Buck means well even when he’s knocking things around all over the house, demolishing a banquet table filled with food and just being a big, old slobbering dog.

One night while outside of the family home, Buck is kidnapped by a bad guy looking to make some quick cash. The dog is sold and later used and trained for sledding. Buck’s new owners are Perrault (Omar Sy “Night Shift”) and Francoise (Cara Gee TV’s, “The Expanse”). They’re a French-Canadian husband and wife team whose job is to keep their dogs in tip-top shape so they can deliver mail to all the gold hungry prospectors.

It’s rough going at first for Buck. This pampered pooch doesn’t even like getting his feet wet, much less slipping and sliding through snow and ice. He finally gets with the program and becomes the leader of the pack and is soon respected by his fellow canines, not to mention Francoise and Perrault who nearly escape an icy catastrophe but are rescued thanks to Buck’s quick intervention.

Just when it seems that Buck has settled in and found comfort in his new role, things change. Thanks to the telegraph, the sled mail delivery service is no longer needed. Now Buck and his furry friends are going their separate ways.

Buck is purchased by a cold-hearted and evil businessman named Hal (Dan Stevens (“Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts”) and his sister Mercedes (Karen Gillan, “Jumanji: The Next Level” ). Hal will do anything to get his gold even it means using a club on Buck to get him to cross an icy and melting lake.

They don’t listen to old man John Thornton (Ford) who insists they should wait until it’s safe to go through. John has been grieving over the death of his son and it’s as if Buck was sent to console and help him find his way.

Together, John and Buck embark on the adventure of a lifetime which culminates with John finding solace and peace and Buck surrendering to the call of the wild.

“The Call of the Wild” is a delightful, family friendly movie that warms your heart all over again.

Check Out This Trailer For "THE CALL OF THE WILD"

Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance Of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.
 

Rated: R
Opens: 02/21/2020
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Rated: PG-13
Opens: 02/14/2020
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Rated: R
Opens: 02/14/2020
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Rated: R
Opens: 01/31/2020
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Opens: 01/24/2020
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Bad Boys For Life


OLD SCHOOL VIDEO PICK OF THE MONTH

<b>“The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings.”</b> Title: “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings.”
Year Released: 1977
Running Time: 110
Production Company: Universal Pictures
Director: John Badham
Director of Photography: Bill Butler
Screenwriter: William Brashler
Author: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

REVIEW: It must have been my recent chance meeting with former Dodger legend Dusty Baker that turned my attention to the Dodgers and baseball in particular. Then again, baseball season is right around the corner, so this review was just meant to me.

The truth is, I realized I hadn’t reviewed any baseball movies in a long time. One of my favorite...
NEW ON DVD

The Lion King <b>(Oct. 22)</b> Title: The Lion King (Oct. 22)
Year Released: 2019
Running Time: 118
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Jon Favreau
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

“THE LION KING”

Disney’s “The Lion King” is a stunning re-imagining of the 1994 original movie.

Directed and produced by Jon Favreau (“Spider-Man: Far from Home”) who also helmed 2016’s outstanding movie, “The Jungle Book.”

When it comes to a classic like the original “Lion King,” sentimentality among fans runs deep. But, for those experiencing “The Lion King” for the first time, there is plenty of magic and wonder to be found in this beautifully rendered version.

Aside from the live setting, Favreau didn’t change much from the original. Even the dialogue is pretty much word for word.

What makes “The Lion King” really roar is how spectacular it looks and how realistic the animals are. It’s as if while watching the film you’re transported to an African Savanna.

Favreau and his talented filmmaking crew utilized state of the art motion capture technology and it’s a seamless transition that makes it appear as if the lions: Mufasa (voiced by the legendary James Earl Jones, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”), young Simba, played by JD McCrary (“Little” and TV’s “American Soul”) and Donald Glover (TV’s “Atlanta,”), Nala (a terrific Beyoncé), Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave” ) really can talk.

“The Lion King” is just a fabulous story. You’d have to go to great lengths to mess this up which is why I appreciate the few subtle liberties the filmmakers did take with it.

I like its dark moments that play out especially among the hyenas which are led by Kamari (a terrific Keegan-Michael Key, “Toy Story 4”). Ejiofer is also outstanding as Scar, the low-down dirty brother of Mufasa and the uncle of Simba. Scar manipulates his way to become king of the Pride Lands.


Seth Rogan as Pumbaa and Billy Eichner as Timon the meerkat are hilarious and have scene stealing moments. Although I would have enjoyed seeing and hearing more from Sarabi (Alfre Woodard, TV’s “Luke Cage”).

Simba also reconnects with his childhood friend Nala first voiced by (Shahadi Wright Joseph, “Us”) and later as Beyoncé who shines. They all convince Simba of his rightful place and that he must retain control of the Kingdom which is everything the light touches.

The music of “The Lion King” is unforgettable this time around too. When Nala/Beyoncé and Simba/Glover belt out “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” it’s palpable.

Equally moving is McCrary and Wright Joseph’s snappy, “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and McCrary holds nothing back on “Hakuna Matata.”

Elton John’s new track “Never too Late” is a winner too.

It really is possible to love the original “Lion King” and this one too. It stands on its own and is a classic for a new generation.
(Highly Recommended).

Editor’s Note: The Blu-ray and Digital DVDs of “The Lion King” offers viewers bonus features:

AUDIO COMMENTARY – By Director Jon Favreau.

PROTECT THE PRIDE – Director Jon Favreau, the Lion Recovery Fund and conservationists highlight efforts to protect the majestic lions and their home.

PERFECTING THE PRIDE – Join the filmmakers on their research trip to Africa as they immerse themselves in the real world of “The Lion King.” From the animals in the pride, to the smallest of insects and the grasslands in the savanna, experience the attention to detail that brought the film to life.

DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE-- Pride Lands Pedia —Dung beetle shares the importance of his “roll” in the African Savanna in a fun, bug’s eye view of the land and its inhabitants.

BLU-RAY & DIGITAL BONUS: The Journey to “The Lion King”

THE MUSIC-- Go inside the studio with the cast and crew as they work to honor and elevate The Lion King’s beloved music.

THE MAGIC– Discover how the filmmakers blended the traditional filmmaking techniques with virtual reality technology to create amazing movie magic.

The Timeless Tale– Filmmakers and cast reflect on the story that has moved generations and share how this Lion King carries a proud legacy forward.

MORE TO BE SCENE – Recording studio and layer-by-layer progressions of some of most iconic moments in “The Lion King.”

“CIRCLE OF LIFE”– Peel back the layers of effects and go behind the scenes of this iconic musical moment from the film.

“I JUST CAN’T WAIT TO BE KING”-- See all the effects, talent and fun that went into creating this vibrant version of “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” for the movie.

“HAKUNA MATATA”-- Join Donald Glover (Simba), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa) and Billy Eichner (Timon) in the studio for the making of this memorable scene.

MUSIC VIDEOS: “Never Too Late” (lyric video) by Elton John and “Spirit” performed by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.

SONG SELECTION: “Circle of Life,” “I Just Can’t Wait to be King,” “Be Prepared,” “Hakuna Matata,” “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Spirit” and “Never Too Late.”

Stuber <b> (Oct. 22)</b> Title: Stuber (Oct. 22)
Year Released: 2019
Running Time: 93
Production Company: 20th Century Fox
Director: Michael Dowse
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

“STUBER”

The outlandish dramedy“Stuber” is an over-the-top, violent, actioner that features a hilarious star turn from Kumail Nanjiani (TV’s “Silicon Valley”) and Dave Bautista (Drax The Destroyer, “Avengers: Endgame”/”Guardians of the Galaxy”).

Nanjiani plays a mild-mannered Uber driver named Stu. When you put Stu and Uber together you get “Stuber.”
By day, Stu works as a sales associate at a sporting goods store run by his jerk boss Richie Sandusky (Jimmy Tatro, TV’s “Modern Family”). Stu hates him and the lame job. He drives an Uber to make ends meet, but it’s really to try and get next to the girl of his dreams, Becca (Betty Gilpin, TV’s “GLOW”).

Although they had a one-night stand, their relationship hasn’t taken off and it’s driving Stu crazy. He loves Becca, wants more than a friendship and is willing to take things to the next level. So much so, he even invested a chunk of his money in a new “Spinster” cycling-class business Becca is launching.

However, Becca is kind of in a relationship with a pro basketball player who has agreed to be a spokesperson for her new company. Despite his best intentions, Stu is pretty much an afterthought for Becca.

Can life possibly get any worse for poor Stu?

Oh yes, it can.

What should have been just another routine day of driving customers around in his nice, leased Nissan Leaf, becomes a real nightmare.

That’s because LAPD police detective Victor "Vic" Manning, (Bautista) got a lead on a heroin dealer named Tedjo (Iko Uwais, “The Raid 2”). He’s been after this guy for years. Tedjo killed Vic’s partner Sarah Morris (Karen Gillan, “Avengers: Endgame”) so it’s payback time.

Here’s the thing. Vic just had Lasik eye surgery and can barely see. The doctor told him he can’t really do anything for a few days until his vision is fully restored.

Vic refuses to just sit around and let Tedjo get away again. Plus, he has a lot to prove to his boss Angie (Mia Sorvino, TV’s “The Code”). So, Vic hops in his car, all blurry eyed and runs over his neighbor’s yards and ultimately lands in a ditch. He finally realizes he can’t drive. He decides to call an Uber. It’s a good thing his art sculptor daughter Nicole (Natalie Morales, TV’s “Abby’s) set up the app on his phone.

When Stu gets the call, he picks up Vic not knowing the wild ride he’s about to take. Really all Stu is worried about is getting that coveted 5-Star Uber rating.

Vic and Stu are such opposites. They bicker back and forth about pursuing Tedjo, you expect they’ll kill each other before they catch him.

Yet, watching Vic’s brash, super masculine persona clash with Stu’s meek and calm demeanor as they get into one dangerous and crazy predicament after the other, is when the film really revs into high gear.
(Recommended).

Spider-Man: Far From Home <b> (Oct.1) </b> Title: Spider-Man: Far From Home (Oct.1)
Year Released: 2019
Running Time: 129
Production Company: Sony/Columbia
Director: Jon Watts
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

"SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME”

“Spider-Man: Far from Home” turned out to be a big blast of summer fun. While I’ve enjoyed all the actors who have played the red-suited superhero like Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, there’s a special boyish charm that Tom Holland brings as the web-slinger that makes “Spider-Man: Far from Home”even more special.

Directed by Jon Watts (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”), “Spider-Man: Far from Home” finds Peter Parker (Holland) trying to lay low and enjoy life without having to deal with the burden of saving the world.

He’s now more interested in hanging with his high school friend Ned Leeds (a funny Jacob Batalon, “Spider-Man: Homecoming”) and preparing for a class trip to Europe with his dopey and clueless teachers Mr. Harrington (Martin Starr, TV’s “Silicon Valley”) Mr. Bell (a funny J.B. Smoove, TV’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”).

Really, Peter hopes that he can get over his nerves and finally tell MJ (the feisty Zendaya, “The Greatest Showman” and TV’s “The OA”) just how much she makes his Spidey-senses tingle.

And while true love is in the air, so is danger. That’s why Peter’s Aunt May (a funny Marisa Tomei, “The First Purge”) insists on packing Peter's Spider-Man suit just as a precaution.

Peter does his best to avoid taking phone calls from Nick Fury (the always great, Samuel L. Jackson, “Shaft”) because that always means something is about to go down.

Fury can't believe Peter is avoiding him and his actions have Harold "Happy" Hogan (Jon Favreau, “Avengers: Endgame”) on edge too. Harold is the former driver and bodyguard of Tony Stark and now looks after Peter.

The latest threat involves the Elementals, a vicious monster that can wreak all sorts of havoc by taking the the form of Earth, Wind and Fire.

How can Peter possibly suit up as Spider-Man and do his thing without blowing his cover? Ned (Batalon) knows what’s up with him, but he’s really the only classmate that does.

With so many Avengers now gone, Peter must stand tall. The problem is that will leave Brad (Remy Hi, TV’s “Harrow”) time to move in on MJ. He loves her too.

It’s a tough call for the love-starved Peter to make. Does he save the world, or does he save his girl? If he plays his cards right, he might be able to swing both.

Fury and his crew design an all-black suit for Peter/Spider-Man to wear that will make him inconspicuous.

Still, Peter/Spider-Man is having a tough time using some of the cool devices at his disposal like a pair of high-tech sunglasses that his former mentor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) left for these types of sticky situations. The glasses are equipped with the artificial intelligence E.D.I.T.H., which has access to all databases of Stark Industries.

Fortunately, Peter doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting. He gets a big assist from Quentin Beck/Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal, “The Sisters Brothers”). This guy is a master of trickery and illusion and considered an expert on the Elementals. Plus, he's out for payback. He goes after them in London, Venice, Prague and Berlin.

While “Spider-Man: Far from Home” gets a bit heavy-handed with the CGI fight sequences, what works best is the focus on the young characters and Parker’s love interest angle. Plus, the loads of hunor round out the film’s dramatic moments.
(Recommended).

Maiden <b> (Oct. 1)</b> Title: Maiden (Oct. 1)
Year Released: 2019
Running Time: 97
Production Company: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Alex Holmes
Review By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

“MAIDEN”

“Maiden” is one of this year’s best sports films, yet it has flown under the radar. It’s actually a documentary about yacht racing, but before you yawn, it’s really worth checking out and is as gripping and inspiring as they come.

Directed by Alex Holmes (“House of Saddam”), “Maiden” tells the story of Tracy Edwards, an Englishwoman who after getting kicked out of high school winds up getting a job as a stewardess aboard a yacht in Greece and falls in love with sailing.

Edwards’ passion for sailing grew so much that she wanted to join the famous Whitbread Round the World yacht race, a 32,000-mile competition.

But no one took her seriously. She was ridiculed because of her inexperience and age. She was 24-years-old at the time. Edwards was constantly told she’d never be part of this traditionally male dominated sport. The male teams didn’t even want to hire her as a cook.

Their thinking was women weren’t cut out for such a tough and gruesome journey.

You know I love an underdog story, regardless of the sport. And “Maiden” is a very good one. Whenever someone can step up against all odds and show out after others have belittled and counted them out, it’s great to watch them rise to the occasion.

Even the yachting press took bets that Edwards would fail. She couldn’t land any sponsors either.
None of that stopped her.

Edwards remortgaged her house and scrapped together enough money to buy a 58-foot yacht and named it “Maiden.”
She reached out to other women interested in sailing and assembled an all-female crew. They entered the Whitbread Yacht Competition in 1989-1990.

As you might have guessed, the crew overcame every obstacle thrown at them—weather and inexperience proving among the biggest—yet they persevered and made history in the process.

Edwards’ journey is riveting from start to finish.
(Recommended).
  MOVIE TRIVIA
 
Which Of The Following Stars of "The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings" Won A Tony Award As "Best Supporting Actor In A Musical?"
"Ted Ross"
"Richard Pryor"
"Billy Dee Williams'"
" James Earl Jones"
 
  "REEL" MOVIE NEWS
the inviisible man imax By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

THE INVISIBLE MAN: THE IMAX 2D EXPERIENCE OPENS AT THE ESQUIRE IMAX THEATRE ON FEB. 27

What you can’t see can hurt you. Emmy winner Elisabeth Moss ("Us," Hulu’s "The Handmaid’s Tale") stars in a terrifying modern tale of obsession inspired by Universal’s classic monster character. "The Invisible Man: The IMAX 2D Experience" opens at the Esquire IMAX Theatre on Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the theatre box office and online at www.imax.com/sacramento.

ABOUT "THE INVISIBILE MAN"

Trapped in a violent, controlling relationship with a wealthy and brilliant scientist, Cecilia Kass (Moss) escapes in the dead of night and disappears into hiding, aided by her sister (Harriet Dyer, NBC’s "The InBetween"), their childhood friend (Aldis Hodge, "Straight Outta Compton") and his teenage daughter (Storm Reid, HBO’s "Euphoria").

But when Cecilia’s abusive ex (Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Netflix’s "The Haunting of Hill House") commits suicide and leaves her a generous portion of his vast fortune, Cecilia suspects his death was a hoax.

As a series of eerie coincidences turns lethal, threatening the lives of those she loves, Cecilia’s sanity begins to unravel as she desperately tries to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.

ABOUT IMAX:

The IMAX release of "The Invisible Man: The IMAX 2D Experience" will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of the IMAX Experience with proprietary IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) technology. The crystal-clear images, coupled with the Esquire IMAX Theatre’s six story high and 80 feet wide screen, customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio, create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.

The Esquire IMAX Theatre is located at 1211 K Street in downtown Sacramento, CA. For information on tickets and showtimes, please call 916-443-IMAX (4629) or visit the website at www.imax.com/sacramento.

ABOUT IMAX CORPORATION:

IMAX, an innovator in entertainment technology, combines proprietary software, architecture and equipment to create experiences that take you beyond the edge of your seat to a world you’ve never imagined. Top filmmakers and studios are utilizing IMAX theatres to connect with audiences in extraordinary ways, and, as such, IMAX’s network is among the most important and successful theatrical distribution platforms for major event films around the globe.

Editor's Note: Information used in this report obtained from IMAX.


ONWARD AT IMAX By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

“ONWARD: THE IMAX 2D EXPERIENCE” OPENS AT THE ESQUIRE IMAX THEATRE ON MARCH 5

Set in a suburban fantasy world, Disney and Pixar’s “Onward” introduces two teenage elf brothers who embark on an extraordinary quest to discover if there is still a little magic left out there. “Onward: The IMAX 2D Experience” opens at the Esquire IMAX Theatre on March 5 at 7 p.m.

Tickets are on sale at the theatre box office and online at www.imax.com/sacramento.

The IMAX release of “Onward: The IMAX 2D Experience” will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of the IMAX Experience with proprietary IMAX DMR (Digital Re-mastering) technology.

The crystal-clear images, coupled with the Esquire IMAX Theatre’s six story high and 80 feet wide screen, customized theatre geometry and powerful digital audio, create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie.

The Esquire IMAX Theatre is located at 1211 K Street in downtown Sacramento, CA. For information on tickets and showtimes, please call 916-443-IMAX (4629) or visit the website at www.imax.com/sacramento.

ABOUT IMAX CORPORATION:

IMAX, an innovator in entertainment technology, combines proprietary software, architecture and equipment to create experiences that take you beyond the edge of your seat to a world you’ve never imagined. Top filmmakers and studios are utilizing IMAX theatres to connect with audiences in extraordinary ways, and, as such, IMAX’s network is among the most important and successful theatrical distribution platforms for major event films around the globe.

Editor’s Note: Some information used in this report obtained from IMAX publicity department.


BEST MOVIES OF 2019 By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs:

It has been a remarkable year for movies. Women, especially African-American women were all over the big screen this year. They also left their mark directing and writing some of the most celebrated films of 2019. Women like Kasi Lemmons, Naomie Harris, Cynthia Erivo and Lupita Nyong’o all shined.

As a member of the Critics’ Choice Association, (CCA), the Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC), The Alliance of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) and founder and writer of N2Entertainment.net, I'm privileged to review movies, at times interview the cast and crew and at the end of the year vote on their work.

Compiling the best movies of the year can be challenging, but it’s always fun and exciting. This year was no exception. So here is N2Entertainment.net’s list of The Top 20 Movies Of 2019.

1. “The Irishman”

2. “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood”

3. “Black And Blue”

4. “Just Mercy”

5. “Dolemite Is My Name”

6. “Marriage Story”

7. “Little Women”

8. “1917”

9. “Rocketman”

10. “Us”

11. “Joker”

12. “A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood”

13. “Harriet”

14. “Breakthrough”

15. “Richard Jewell”

16. “The Last Black Man In San Francisco”

17. “The Two Popes”

18. “Hustlers”

19. “The Farewell”

20. “Parasite”