Audiences should bond with latest Bond

Nicola DoveThis image released by Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures shows Daniel Craig as James Bond and Ana de Armas in a scene from 'No Time To Die.'

“No Time to Die” (Action: 2 hours, 43 minutes)

Starring: Daniel Craig, Rami Malek, Léa Seydoux, Lashana Lynch and Ralph Fiennes

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga

Rated: PG-13 (Sequences of violence and action, disturbing images, strong language and some suggestive material)

Some spoilers are mentioned in this review.

Movie Review: The James Bond movies starring Daniel Craig as the iconic character have all had a more serious dramatic edge than the previous movies from this franchise. All have been good movies. This one is the most dramatic yet because of its ending. 

However, the action is ever-present as with other Bond films and the action makes for impressive sequences with an engaging story. 

​James Bond (Craig) has left Her Majesty's Service. He is no longer Agent 007 at MI-6. His retirement is brief. With the involvement of the CIA, Bond returns to his MI-6 post to stop a mysterious villain, Lyutsifer Safin (Malek), who has a revolutionary new technology that could change the world on a cellular level.

Daniel Craig briefly received some negative fanfare when he was announced as the new James Bond in “Casino Royale” (2006). Since, he has gained critical acclaim as one of the better actors to portray Agent 007. The accolades are rightly attributed. Craig gave the character a serious demeanor, making Bond a more serious derrière-kicking operative. “No Time to Die” is his fifth outing as the famed spy and Craig regally delivers again.

Besides Craig, audiences see a host of returning characters and plenty of new ones. The newbies are the talented Malek as the villain, an American spy played by Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch as the newest 007 agent, who is a British woman of African descent. The characters are interesting people but the fast-paced scenes offer little time to know them. This is especially true of Lynch’s character.

“No Time to Die” is a lengthy movie with a runtime of two hours and 43 minutes, yet the time passes quickly. Director Cary Joji Fukunaga (“Beasts of No Nation,” 2015) and several screenwriters keep the scenes at a fast pace. This is good to keep audiences attention for a lengthy movie, yet a trip to the restroom may cause one to miss one of the multiple substories that contribute to the whole narrative. 

The plot is an intricate one. Several stories from Bond’s past are present, which makes this feature a seemingly end to the dashing espionage agent. Even more, the way certain characters meet their end indicates that after 25 movies, Bond will be retired.

Indicating this more, a few scenes note moments from the past, including a room with paintings of previous Ms, directors of MI-6. The portraits include several previous Ms, including previous ones played by Dame Judi Dench and Bernard Lee, the English actor who played M in the first 11 Bond movies starting with “Dr. No” (1962).

The nuanced nods to the past Bond films are a nice touch. They give the movie a tangible appeal, a sense of regal realness that life continues and the world always needs saving.

Do not worry. After the end credits, "No Time to Die" concludes with the famous words "James Bond Will Return." After many decades, studios would be inept to let one of the cinema's biggest moneymakers go when it still entertains mightily. 

Grade: B (Make time to see Bond.)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas

“The Many Saints of Newark” (Crime/Drama: 2 hours)

Starring: Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Vera Farmiga, Michael Gandolfini and Ray Liotta

Director: Alan Taylor

Rated: R (Strong violence, pervasive language, thematic elements, sexual content and nudity)

Movie Review: After 86 episodes of “The Sopranos” and 14 years later, movie audiences finally get a movie about the making of Anthony "Tony" Soprano, played by the late James Gandolfini’s son, Michael. 

This prequel to the six-season television hit is an engaging movie. While Tony Soprano as a kid and teen are parts of this screenplay, it focuses more on his grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts and a rival African-American crime group.

Tony Soprano's life in organized crime is a family influence, especially by his uncle, Dickie Moltisanti (Nivola), who Tony idolizes. Moltisanti takes over the family business after the death of his father (Liotta). Moltisanti is kind to family members but equally ruthless to anyone who crosses him, friend, foe or family. He is the model of a crime boss for a young Tony Soprano.

David Chase’s characters are the basis for “The Many Saints of Newark.” It is an engaging movie as a backstory for Tony Soprano and the family business he will run. The story works, although it appears to divert often with an array of characters who steal the show from a young Tony.

However, Director Alan Taylor (“Game of Thrones” and “Thor: The Dark World,” 2013) provides a good story to establish a well-known family from “The Sopranos.” The characters are well-acted, many are worthy subjects of their own. “Many Saints of Newark” works, even for those who did not watch the television series.

Grade: B (Unsaintly people in a good mobster movie.)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas

“The Addams Family 2” (Animation/Comedy: 1 hour, 32 minutes)

Starring: Oscar Isaac (voice), Charlize Theron (voice), Chloë Grace Moretz (voice)

Directors: Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon and Laura Brousseau

Rated: PG (Macabre and rude humor, violence and language)

Movie Review: This animated feature is a follow-up to “Addams Family” (Directors Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, 2019). This energetic movie feels very much like the 2019 prequel in style and substance, except this one is over-the-top material even for The Addams Family.

It is an adventurous movie that takes the Addams Family across the United States on a bonding vacation. Gomez and Morticia Addams (voices of Isaac and Theron) hope the trip will be a chance to boost the family’s morale. Mr. Mustela (Wallace Shawn) disrupts their vacation when he arrives revealing something unknown about Wednesday (Moretz).

The characters are still committing the same antics. This one is easy to sit through, even if it appears repetitive during some scenes. This movie focuses on Wednesday Addams. She is a brilliant young woman. Chloe Moretz voices her well, though her character, like others, becomes part of an erratic story near the end. 

Based on characters by Charles Addams, “The Addams Family 2” is as fun as it is ooky. The movie’s great note is its affectionate family ending before it returns to the usual antics.

Grade: C+ (It is worth about two snaps.)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas

“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” (Action/Science-Fiction: 1 hour, 37 minutes)

Starring: Tom Hardy, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams and Naomie Harris

Director: Andy Serkis

Rated: PG-13 (Intense sequences of violence and action, strong language, disturbing material and suggestive references)

Movie Review: A sequel to “Venom” (Director Ruben Fleischer, 2018), “Let There Be Carnage” continues to embrace the comic duality of a human and his alien parasite. This sequel is an action movie filled with droll moments. It works as a popcorn flick.

Eddie Brock (Hardy) rejuvenates his journalism career by interviewing serial killer Cletus Kasady (Harrelson). During the interview, Kasady bites Brock, causing the symbiote Carnage to emerge with Kasady as its host. The serial killer escapes prison and spreads carnage around the city.

Movie icon Andy Serkis (“Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle, 2018) has some of the most iconic roles in moviedom on his resume. The notables are Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” 2002, and Caesar from “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” 2011.

Here, he allows the computer-animated alien parasites to upstage their human counterparts. The symbiotes are a big part of the movie. However, they do make the movie appear cartoonish at times.

Hardy is engaging in the role, and Woody Harrelson is engaging as always as an extravagant bad guy. They and other characters are engaging but the symbiotes upstage them. Plus, the movie is one action scene after the next.

The actions scenes are enjoyable. The humorous quips are also. These concepts keep the movie fun but they also overshadow potential good substories and acting.

Grade: B- (Let the fun begin)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas

“The Jesus Music” (Documentary: 1 hour, 49 minutes)

Starring: Kirk Franklin, Amy Grant and Kevin Max

Directors: Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin

Rated: PG-13 (Thematic elements including drug content)

Movie Review: This documentary reveals the origins of Jesus Music. The documentary is interesting but it becomes tangled up in the performers’ personal lives as much as it tries to celebrate Jesus Music and its inspiration Jesus the Savior. 

Jesus Music, as termed in this movie, began in Costa Mesa, California. Eventually, it becomes the multi-billion-dollar industry of Christian Contemporary Music today.

This movie shows the tribulations of its performers as contemporary music became a bigger phenomenon. The movie shows the bouts with traditional Christian music enthusiasts and how contemporary performers of Christian music were a vilified group in some cases.

The movie goes off track slightly when it delves into the personal lives of those singing Jesus music without making a connection to the music. A documentary should question would these life events have happened whether these performers were a part of this genre of music or not.

However, brothers Andrew Erwin and Jon Erwin (“I Still Believe,” 2020; “I Can Only Imagine,” 2018) provide an interesting movie. It appears off-focus but creates a nice interest in contemporary Christian music.

Grade: B- (Not as holy as its title but it is good.)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas

“Titane” (Thriller/Science-Fiction: 1 hour, 48 minutes)

Starring: Agathe Rousselle, Vincent Lindon and Laïs Salameh

Director: Julia Ducournau

Rated: R (Strong violence and disturbing material, gore, nudity, sexual content and strong language)

Movie Review: “Titane” is an arthouse movie. It is an artistic movie for those looking for art as well as entertainment. It is a very adult movie with disturbing scenes. It is that preverbal “train wreck,” an attention-getting moment.

Alexia (Rousselle) was in a car accident as a child that required a metal plate made of titanium to replace part of her skull. After a series of unexplained criminal behaviors, Alexia finds refuge, pretending to be Adrien Legrande, the missing son of depressed fire department Capt. Vincent Legrand (Lindon). Alexia assumes Adrien’s life, pretending to be a male while she is pregnant.

Director-writer Julia Ducournau is known for her avant-garde work. Her last screenplay was “Raw” (2016). It is about a young woman, a vegetarian student, who develops a craving for human flesh. She is not ashamed to push the limits of what is art. She does so again. Ducournau became the second female director and the fourth woman to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes for this French movie.

“Titane” is an entertaining movie. It is an overly violent, brutally gritty and engaging view of humanity. Ducournau’s characters continue to surprise with their actions. This adult-themed movie is a hardcore view of humanity done with an artistic flair. “Titane’s” themes are not for everyone but the movie's creativity provides sound entertainment.

Grade: B (Shiny, captivating as it is off-putting.)

Playing at Valdosta Stadium Cinemas

Adann-Kennn Alexxandar has reviewed movies for more than 20 years for The Valdosta Daily Times.

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