‘The Predator’ Movie Review


Everything old is new again. Hollywood keeps giving us remakes and reboots of various movies from the 80s and 90s so it should come as no surprise that ‘The Predator‘ is being revamped for today’s cinema. However, this is one of those rare instances where Hollywood may have found a proper way to go about it. Writers Fred Dekker and Shane Black keep the original film (‘Predator‘) and it’s sequel (‘Predator 2‘) in-play but, thankfully, ignore the later two entries into the franchise. What we get is much more than a remake with a fresh cast and updated effects – this is a follow-up entry that gives us something new while also acknowledging and paying proper homage to its roots along the way.

A quick summation of the slightly complicated plot: A predator crash lands on Earth after fleeing another predator in outer space. A ragtag group of soldiers and a scientist fight to stay alive after they discover that these creatures have not only been to Earth before, but that they are also causing themselves to evolve. There are a lot of moving pieces going on with a multitude of different characters so you definitely have to be paying attention to this film in order to keep up (aka: no bathroom breaks!). That being said, the entire cast does a phenomenal job with their assigned roles in what is truly and ensemble piece. Special credit to Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, Trevonte Rhodes, Sterling K. Brown, Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane and Jacob Tremblay not only on playing their parts well, but on appearing to be having a great deal of fun doing so! The action scenes are great if, from time-to-time, a bit too unbelievable. The story was good, but I can’t quite put my finger on whether the plot was just a bit overly complex or if it was a case of having too many characters muddying things up. As I said, you will definitely need to pay close attention to avoid missing a detail here or who a character was there, etc. Overall, this film definitely paved a smooth path going forward for a sequel and made for a very enjoyable 1 hour and 47 minutes of movie-going fun! I saw it in standard format but I suspect that an IMAX showing may help increase the “Wow!” factor. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say ‘The Predator’ manages to hunt its way to robust 8. Get out and see it this weekend at a theater near you!!



‘MacGyver’ Season 2 DVD Review


I will admit that I’m still one of those people who runs out and buys the actual DVDs & Blu-rays of movies and TV shows. I like to physically have possession of them, I like to change the discs in my video player, I like looking at the lithograph and arranging my collection alphabetically. Filing the season 2 of the new ‘MacGyver‘ series into the “M” section of my collection was almost as satisfying as watching the series itself. For those who are somehow unfamiliar, the new ‘MacGyver’ on CBS is a reboot of an 80’s show of the same name. It follows the adventures of the titular character Angus MacGyver (Lucas Till) who is an operative for a covert U.S. Government agency called The Phoenix Foundation. He manages to rig together (or “MacGyver”) some clever inventions with his ingenuity and whatever items happen to be on-hand to help save the day. He is supported by a team consisting of ex-special forces member Jack Dalton (George Eads), savvy hacker Riley Davis (Tristin Mays) and his best friend Wilt Bozer (Justin Hires). This season is a marked improvement over last season in terms of action, effects and story. But this review isn’t about the season itself. It’s all about the Special Features that the DVD set offers. Let’s get to it!


The first two items are “Mac Hacks” from both Season 1 and Season 2 of the show. They walk you through how to, on a much smaller scale than in the show, make things like an electromagnet, a Leyden jar, a pulley system, a floor jack, a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher, a chemical detector and many more cool items. A stern warning is given – “DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RECREATE” but I am relatively certain that some people will try to recreate a few of these as they are rather cool.

Next up is a feature called “MacGyver In Cuba” in which members of the crew (I.E. Executive Producer Craig O’Neill and Stunt Coordinator Jeff Wolfe) talk about filming the opening of the season’s first episode. It’s a great behind-the-scenes look at filming the actions sequences on location in Cuba and then getting some of the pick-up shots back in their home base of Atlanta, GA (where the vast majority of the series is filmed).

Then we get into “Saving The Day, Season 2”. This special feature basically serves as a quick synopsis of the season and takes highlights of several of the episodes and provides commentary by members of the cast and crew. It’s always enjoyable to hear the people involved comment on what they loved about a particular scene or the difficulty in doing a certain stunt. This was definitely one of my favorites of the Special Features offered.

Our 5th item on the Special Features list is self-explanatory: “MacGyver: Special and Visual Effects”. Other than the Gag Reel, this was probably the shortest entry on the list and we really only got to see 2 or 3 of the mentioned effects. With such a stunt-heavy show, I feel like this could have been given more content and I confess to being quite underwhelmed by this feature.

A highlight, for me, of any movie or TV series is getting to see the actors as real people. That’s right – it’s the “Gag Reel”. As expected, more of the gag clips come from George Eads and Justin Hires, but there are plenty of clips of the entire cast to go around.

Finally, we get to the “Deleted Scenes” which are always interesting. Usually one can understand why a scene was cut, but it’s still a treat to see that missing piece of the episode that, sadly, had to be relegated to the cutting room floor. We get nearly a dozen scenes here spanning the entire season which is perfect for those of us who can’t get enough ‘MacGyver’ in our lives.

Overall, this was a great season with a lot of bonus features. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say there are enough special features included here to cobble together a solid 7. If you’re a fan of this show, then the DVD set has a lot to offer you and will be available for purchase beginning on September 18 at a suggested retail price of $29.98.


‘The Nun’ Movie review


‘The Nun’ (2018)
New Line Cinema

Directed by: Corin Hardy
Written by: Gary Dauberman & James Wan
Starring: Demian Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet & Bonnie Aarons.


Fall is nearly here and, with it, the oncoming slew of horror films that inevitably hit theaters for the season. ‘The Nun‘ is due out this weekend and looks to have all of the makings of another solid entry into “The Conjuring Universe” series. This movie is slated to be a sort of prequel for the film group and reveals the origins of the demonic nun who was introduced in 2016’s ‘The Conjuring 2.’


The story begins in an isolated abbey in the remote regions of Romania in 1952. Two nuns seek to gain access to a religious relic that will put an end to the unholy occurrences that plague them. After one of the pair is attacked and killed by an unseen entity, the remaining nun leaps from an upstairs window to hang herself as a means of preventing the spirit from using her body as a vessel to escape into the outside world. Her body is discovered the following morning by a villager named Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet) whose job it is to deliver food and supplies to the abbey. The Vatican receives word of the nun’s suicide and dispatches a priest named Father Burke (Demian Bichir) and a young novitiate named Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) to investigate and to make sure the abbey is “still Holy.” It quickly becomes evident that a powerful evil has taken hold of the abbey and their only hope is to discover the location of the religious artifact that will allow them to banish the malevolent presence once and for all.

The movie that started this series (‘The Conjuring’) remains, in my opinion, one of the scariest movies to come out in over a decade. Some movies in this connected universe have been less solid than others, but all have been worth the price of admission. ‘The Nun’ is certainly more “hit” than “miss” as it delivers many bone-chilling scares and ghastly imagery. I could have done without a few bits of dialogue that were obviously meant as mild attempts at levity but, since I don’t recall such moments in any of the other movies in this series, they seemed completely out of place here and, instead, only served to bring me slightly out of the moment. The acting is phenomenal and both Demian Bichir and Taissa Farmiga seem to completely embody their roles as they do a wonderful job of building the tension in their scenes with just a subtle look or a change in their body language. Jonas Bloquet does quite well for his part but, from time-to-time, just lacks the gravitas of the other two stars. Director Corin Hardy does a fine job of setting the table upon which the action takes place and the scenes ooze a terrifying atmosphere as the film breezes through it’s brisk 1 hour and 36 minute run. While ‘The Nun’ lacked that real pulse-pounding punch that ‘The Conjuring‘ and ‘Annabelle Creation‘ managed to deliver to me, I still found it a very worthwhile film and among the better of “The Conjuring Universe” offerings. One a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say ‘The Nun’ scares up a very solid 7. Make sure to get out and see it at your local theater this weekend and pray that your soul can survive the experience!!



‘The Happytime Murders’ Movie Review


‘The Happytime Murders’ (2018)
The Jim Henson Company

Directed by: Brian Henson
Written by: Todd Berger & Dee Austin Robertson
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph, Joel McHale, Leslie David Edwards & Bill Barretta.

The Happytime Murders‘ hit theaters this weekend. On paper, this film has a lot going for it – a raunchy comedy where live actors and puppets share the screen, a solid cast including Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph, Joel McHale & Leslie David Baker, directed by Brian Henson, produced by Henson Alternative, etc. Unfortunately, the movie just doesn’t deliver on it’s potential. The story follows former puppet cop turned P.I. Phil Phillips (voiced by actor Bill Barretta) who is brought in to consult on a case where cast members of a former TV show called ‘Happytime’ are being killed off one-by-one. He’s paired again with his former partner Detective Connie Edwards (McCarthy) who no longer gets along with Phillips after she was wounded back when they were partners and blames Phillips for the whole debacle. The film has trouble deciding whether or not it wants to be a noir crime piece or a buddy-cop movie and, perhaps as a result, fails to achieve either. There are laughs to be had but only because of the over-the-top puppet exploitation (if that’s even a thing?), some fairly ludicrous scenarios involving puppet vs human violence as well as what can only be described as puppet porn.


The real-life actors try their best, but they all seem to be either under obligation to knock out this film or just plain weary of being there. Elizabeth Banks truly commits to her part and Maya Rudolph shines the brightest out of the cast but the plot is so threadbare that it hardly seems to matter. In fact, in a world where puppets can be cops and McCarthy has the liver of a puppet, I found myself bothered by details like “How can McHale’s FBI agent status allow him to relieve an LAPD Detective of her badge?!?!”. Yeah… the plot is that bad! ‘The Happytime Murders’ fails to achieve the same level of ludicrous fun that ‘Team America: World Police‘ gave us nearly 15 years ago and isn’t nearly as clever as ‘Avenue Q‘ in terms of funny puppet raunch. If you are desperate for a new film to see this weekend and don’t plan to bring the kids, then maybe this one will be for you. Otherwise, I’d recommend waiting until this movie hits Redbox or possibly skipping it altogether. On a scale of 1 – 10, there just isn’t enough stuffing to give this film anything more than a 3.5.


‘Christopher Robin’ Movie Review


‘Christopher Robin’ (2018)
Walt Disney Pictures

Directed by: Marc Forster
Written by: Alex Ross Perry & Allison Schroeder
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Hayley Atwell, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Bronte Carmichael, Peter Capaldi, Toby Jones * Sophie Okonedo

Winnie-The-Pooh has been around for just over 90 years. In that time, we’ve gotten theatrical versions, radio broadcasts, animated specials and more. However, for all of the media and formats I’ve seen, none of them has been filled with as much heart and beauty as the new live action film ‘Christopher Robin‘ which hits theaters this coming weekend. The film opens with young Christopher Robin spending time with Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger & Company in the 100 Acre Woods for the last time before he heads off to boarding school. Through a series of scenes, we see Christopher grow up, lose his father, meet a girl, fall in love, go off to war and come home to settle into the grind of a daily job and raising a family. Through it all, Pooh wonders when he might see Christopher Robin again and, upon being unable to find his friends in the woods, he sets off on his own to look for Christopher Robin in London to enlist his help.


The plot is predictable to the point of cliche BUT…. not only is that my only real complaint, it is an issue that is easily brushed aside given the ridiculously talented cast and the gorgeous cinematography. Watching this film makes you feel as if you are being read the very best story ever by a loving, trusted parent. The voice acting of Jim Cummings as Winnie-The-Pooh is emotionally rich with every slight vocal inflection. Brad Garrett perfectly captures Eeyore’s patented ennui, Nick Mohammed does a great job of fretting as Piglet and Peter Capaldi‘s high-strung Rabbit is also spot-on. The live-action cast is not to be outdone by their voice acting counterparts. Ewan McGregor has never been anything less than phenomenal in anything he’s ever done and Hayley Atwell always lights up the screen be it big or small (although I would have liked to have seen more of her as her character didn’t have a great amount to do in this film). Their on-screen daughter, Madeline (played by Bronte Carmichael), is certainly a star on-the-rise and turns out an excellent performance here.


The cinematography is divine and beautiful and intimately draws you into the narrative. Director Marc Foster has outdone himself with this delightfully charming film that will no doubt bring joy to children of all ages. I give ‘Christopher Robin’ a very solid 8 out of 10. Whether you’re a long time Winnie-The-Pooh fan or even if you’re new to Pooh, I would highly recommend adding this film to your “must-see” list at a theater near you!! Just remember that it’s BYOH. (Bring Your Own Honey)


‘Teen Titans GO! To The Movies’ Movie Review


‘Teen Titans GO! To The Movies’ (2018)
Warner Bros

Directed by: Aaron Horvath & Peter Rida Michail
Written by: Aaron Horvath & Michael Jelenic
Starring: Scott Menville, Hynden Walch, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Greg Cipes, Nicolas Cage, Will Arnett, Kristen Bell, Stan Lee, Jimmy Kimmel

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am a huge fan of DC Comics. I religiously watch their shows on The CW and I love their animated features and series. Their movies, however, are very, very hit or miss (with most of them falling in the “miss” category). Luckily, a new DC Comics film will be released this coming Friday (7/27) that falls into their animated category and it is just plain, outright fun! ‘Teen Titans GO! To The Movies‘ is the first theatrical release of a DC Animated Film since 1993’s ‘Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm‘. I was a little hesitant going in because the cartoon series on which this film is based (‘Teen Titans GO!‘) isn’t high on my list. I’m more of a ‘Young Justice‘ guy, but I certainly understand the appeal of ‘GO!’ for younger audiences and I can appreciate it for what it is. This film features the same core voice cast as the Cartoon Network show with Scott Menville as Robin, Hynden Walch as Starfire, Khary Payton as Cyborg, Tara Strong as Raven and Greg Cipes as Beast Boy. On top of that, we get treated to the adult heroes such as Superman (Nicolas Cage), Wonder Woman (Halsey), Batman (Jimmy Kimmel) and Green Lantern (Lil Yachty) among nearly every other DC Hero of which you can think right down to The Challengers of the Unknown and Detective Chimp.


The plot centers around the adult heroes viewing the Teen Titans as a joke and not worthy of getting their own movie (a feat every other super hero has accomplished recently, including Batman’s butler, Alfred). Robin attempts to prove that his team is not a joke by confronting Slade Wilson (played gleefully by Will Arnett) as he attempts to steal a special jewel the absorbs energy. The group is victorious and movie mogul Jade Wilson agrees to make a movie about the Teen Titans. Both danger and hilarity ensue as the team realizes that they are the only ones who can stop a farther reaching and sinister scheme that even the Justice League can’t handle. There are musical numbers, there are inside jokes, there are brightly splashed animated effects, there’s even a fantastic cameo by Stan Lee (and, yes, that really IS him lending his voice to his animated avatar). Overall, this is a great movie for the whole family. Adults will enjoy it for the comic references and self-deprecating humor, kids will enjoy it for the zany animation, and movie goers in general should enjoy it as a different type of film from the current slate of movies currently in theaters.


The film works because it never takes itself seriously – at all! It’s meant to be tongue-in-cheek as it recognizes it’s own absurdity and points a finger at DC’s own place in the currently superhero-heavy film landscape. Fans of the series will be satisfied and people who have never seen the series will enjoy the style of this film and it’s humor. For me, it doesn’t stack up to the aforementioned ‘Mask Of The Phantasm’ nor even to current releases like ‘Incredibles 2’, but it’s not trying to do so either and that’s part of the film’s charm. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give ‘Teen Titans GO! To The Movies’ a solid 7. Bring YOUR team out to see it next weekend at a theater near you AND make sure to stay for a post credits scene!!!



‘Skyscraper’ Movie Review


‘Skyscraper’ (2018)
Legnedary Pictures & Universal Pictures

Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thuber
Written by: Rawson Marshall Thuber
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han, Rolland Moller, Noah Taylor, Byron Mann, Pablo Schreiber & Hannah Quinlivan

I’ll be honest and say ‘Skyscraper‘ wasn’t a film I was particularly excited about seeing. There hadn’t been too much buzz about it in my normal movie circles other than “It stars Dwayne Johnson. He’s playing an amputee. He has to go into a burning skyscraper to rescue people.” I ended up being completely blown away by this movie and I’ll be recommending it to anyone who is interested in seeing a true summer blockbuster! Dwayne Johnson plays former FBI hostage rescue agent Will Sawyer who lost part of his left leg in the line of duty 10 years earlier. Now, he has a wife (Neve Campbell) and two children (McKenna Roberts & Noah Cottrell) and his own tiny security consulting firm. When his friend and former partner gets him a job in Hong Kong verifying the security and safety measures of the world’s new tallest building, The Pearl,  for it’s owner and architect Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), everything seems to be going well. Soon, Sawyer learns that his friend has set him up to be the prime suspect in the building’s destruction while a terrorist group attempts to kidnap Zhao and steal his most prized possession. Now, Sawyer must race against time to save his family who are trapped inside The Pearl while clearing his own name and stopping the mercenary group behind everything.


In my humble opinion, this may be the best Dwayne Johnson has ever been! He isn’t just the normal action hero, fighting machine taking down the bad guys. He’s playing a flawed and slightly broken man, an amputee with lingering PTSD, fighting against seemingly insurmountable odds to save his family. There are obvious comparisons to be made between this movie and the classic 80’s film ‘Die Hard‘, but the comparisons are only there on the surface. ‘Skyscraper’ has more heart than snark, more courage than comedy. There are certainly funny moments and this isn’t a drama by any means so don’t take it that way. But underneath the exterior of an incredible action film are layers of real emotion as we see Johnson’s character push forward while, quite literally at times, defying the laws of physics. (But if anyone can break the laws of physics, it’d be Dwayne Johnson, am I right?) The plot is textured without being overly complex and I don’t feel there were any wasted moments which helped keep the movie’s run time down to a fast-paced 1 hour and 42 minutes (although it seemed even shorter while watching it). The stunts in the film are truly astonishing and this is the very first film I’ve seen so far this year where I found myself squeezing the armrest of the chair and holding my breath during some of the stunt sequences so I give huge kudos to stunt coordinator Robert Alonzo and his entire team on some dizzying and eye-popping stunt work!

The acting was also on-point for the entire cast. I’ve already sang the praises of Dwayne Johnson so I don’t want to belabor that point, but I truly loved his performance in this film! Neve Campbell’s character is confident, smart and strong and she has great chemistry with Johnson. Chin Han is always sublimely charming and cool under pressure while Roland Moller‘s character of terrorist mastermind Kores Botha was fiendish perfection. The other notable performance for me was that of Hannah Quinlivan‘s character Xia who I loved to hate in every one of her scenes (I can pay no higher compliment to any villain!). You’ll recognize the name of writer / director Rawson Marshall Thurber from his other films such as ‘Dodgeball‘ and ‘We’re The Millers‘ but with ‘Skyscraper’, I can see his future as a big-budget action movie director climb to whole new levels! (Pun intended.)

In summation, I feel that ‘Skyscraper’ is a return to form of what a “summer blockbuster” is meant to be! Early projections have the film garnering anywhere from $32 – $40 million when it opens this weekend, but I feel word of mouth could bring that number up higher and I think, perhaps more importantly, that the film will continue to do well on it’s 2nd and subsequent weekends which, as we’ve seen, is where some recent movies have faltered lately. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate this one as a towering 9.0! So if you’re burning to see a fantastic action film with an outstanding cast & breathtaking stunts, then get tickets NOW to see ‘Skyscraper’ at your local theater and raise your summer excitement into the stratosphere!!!



D.C. Collectibles Unveils New ‘Justice League’ Animated Series Action Figures


While the cry for a new ‘Justice League‘ animated film or series featuring the original cast (#JLReunion) has gone unanswered by WB Entertainment, there is some news that will excite fans of the beloved cartoon. DC Collectibles has just announced a new series of action figures based on the popular series which will be available in the Fall of 2018 exclusively for members of the brand new DC Universe online service. Here is the announcement directly from DC:

Exclusively for DC UNIVERSE members, DC Collectibles—the award-winning line of collectibles from DC Entertainment—will offer a wide range of new action figures and collector’s items based on DC’s iconic characters and stories. Members will have exclusive access to all-new six-inch Justice League Animated action figures based on designs from the fan-favorite animated series (2001-2004), starting in fall 2018. In addition to DC Collectibles, members will have access to a wide range of exclusive, curated and hard-to-find DC merchandise from a variety of licensing partners before the rest of the world.”

The first 8 figures in the collection are Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, The Flash, Hawkgirl and Aquaman. So far there is no word on what, if any, accessories will be included with each figure, but if they are anything like the recent relaunch of the ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ collection that has been released over the past few years, the figures may feature several brand new accessories and possibly even interchangeable heads and hands for different poses. Assuming this initial set of figures does well, then we may get other favorites from the series such as Green Arrow, Black Canary, Supergirl and maybe even some that we never got from the original figure collection like Felix Faust and Granny Goodness.

One cannot help but wonder if the huge call on social media for an animated reunion of the original cast had something to do with this newly announced release of the original set of figures from the ‘Justice League’ series. Furthermore, DC and WB Entertainment may look at how sales of these figures go in deciding whether or not there is merit in giving the fans the #JLReunion that they desire. This movement to have the original cast reunite picked up a great deal of steam last year when Andrea Romano, who both casted & directed the majority of the iconic cartoon series, announced on-air that she would come out of retirement to direct an animated feature with the OG cast! Expand your toy collection while also supporting the move to bring back the original cast for a potential ‘Justice League Unlimited‘ feature film? Yes, please!!


‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ Movie Review


‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ (2018)
Universal Pictures

Directed by: J.A. Bayona
Written by: Derek Connolly & Colin Trevorrow (based on characters by Michael Crichton)
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rafe Spall, Justice Smith, Daniella Pineda, James Cromwell, Toby Jones, BD Wong & Jeff Goldblum

This weekend, you have the chance to revisit the ‘Jurassic Park‘ franchise with the 5th film – ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.’ Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard reprise their roles of Owen Grady and Claire Dearing. The pair are recruited by an emissary of John Hammond’s partner, Benjamin Lockwood (played by James Cromwell), with a mission to return to Isla Nublar and help rescue Blue, the velociraptor that Owen raised and trained, before an erupting volcano wipes out the island. Claire brings along two specialists, Franklin and Zia (actors Justice Smith and Daniella Pineda, respectively) to help activate the dinosaurs trackers thus make it easier for them to locate and rescue them. Upon securing Blue, the group is double-crossed by the para military task force working for Lockwood’s accountant, Eli Mills (played by Rafe Spall). While Lockwood thinks the dinosaurs are being rescued and transported to a new sanctuary island, Mills instead plans to sell the dinosaurs off to the highest bidder while using Blue as a guide to help control the latest crossbreed of dinosaur – the endoraptor. Once again, BD Wong reprises his role of evil scientist Dr. Wu who is assisting Mills in his plan from a secret sub-basement under Lockwood’s sprawling mansion. With the auction underway, Owen and Claire must find a way to stop the remaining dinosaurs from being sold off while also keeping themselves and Lockwood’s granddaughter safe from the newly released endoraptor.


While I was initially quite excited for this movie, the execution left me a bit underwhelmed. The film suffers from the same problem that has beset other movies in the franchise with a slightly lacking sense of character development. In fact, a reveal about Lockwood and his family was made in the film that I found to be interesting, but still fell a little flat for me as I was never invested enough in those characters to really care. Lockwood’s granddaughter Maisie (played by Isabella Sermon), Chris Pratt and Daniella Pineda deliver the best performances of the movie and, of course,  it’s always a delight to see BD Wong in this series. Having Jeff Goldblum back was a nice touch, but he was, sadly, only on-screen for mere moments at the beginning and again at the very end to bookend the piece while testifying before Congress as to whether or not the government should take action to save the dinosaurs. The cat-and-mouse game through the mansion to elude the endoraptor was fun and reminiscent of the first film’s chase through the park’s kitchen and welcome center by the velociraptors. For me, the dinosaurs were the stars of this movie while the actual actors seemed more like just set dressing. If that’s what the writers and the director were going for, then they nailed it. However I suspect that wasn’t the overall intention. After seeing this 5th film of the series, I would now rank them from favorite to least favorite as 1, 4, 2, 5, 3. ‘Fallen Kingdom’ certainly had it’s moments, but they were too few and far between to cause me to love this movie as much as I have others in the franchise. I would rate this movie a 6.5 out of 10 but I still suspect that it will take a sizable bite out of this weekend’s box office!!


An Interview with Gabrielle Dennis


The second season of ‘Luke Cage‘ drops on Netflix this coming Friday (Junes 22nd). In addition of the new villain Bushmaster, played by Mustafa Shakir, the cast is also adding actress Gabrielle Dennis in the role of Tilda Johnson. Last week I had the privilege of speaking with Gabrielle by phone to discuss joining the cast, working with the legendary Alfre Woodard and her previous connection with Simone Missick.

James Enstall, host of Geek to Me Radio (JE) – I am joined now by Gabrielle Dennis talking about ‘Luke Cage’ Season 2. Thanks very much for your time this afternoon!

Gabrielle Dennis (GD) – Thank you!

JE – I’ve looked over your IMDB and you’ve been involved in so many projects. Coming into something like ‘Luke Cage’, which has that comic book background to it and it’s the second season so there is already a cast in place, what parts were most intimidating and what parts were most exciting?

GD – Oh wow! I would say the most exciting for sure is being able to work in that environment and space. I’ve never lived or worked in New York so being able to be plopped right into this world was extremely exciting and to have a new experience shooting there and then being a part of a show that I was already a fan of, that’s super exciting. I would say probably the most intimidating thing is just being the new kid on the block and trying to make sure you don’t step on anyone’s toes. You want to come in and do your job really well and make everyone proud. Being in the presence of the almighty Alfre Woodard, who is just an amazing powerhouse of an actress and human being, she is just great, being able to do scenes with her, that was…at first it was very intimidating to work with her up-close and personal but then you get in there and she is such a gracious actress. We had a ball. There were definitely more exciting moments than intimidating ones throughout this experience. That excitement is going to translate because when people watch this show, watch out!

JE – It was such a rich and powerful first season. The Netflix Marvel shows have been in some ways better than some of their big screen offerings. I will say it’s heartwarming to know that Alfre Woodard was as gracious in real life as she appears to be because I love seeing her on screen all the time so thank you for confirming my suspicion that she is indeed a great human being.


You said you were a fan of the show previously, so you watched the first season before you ever thought about coming on for the second season?

GD – Oh yeah! Absolutely! I started watching the Marvel series with ‘Daredevil‘ obviously and then when Luke Cage was introduced in ‘Jessica Jones‘. When Luke Cage dropped, it was super exciting because I wasn’t familiar with him prior to Netflix and Marvel partnering up. It was two-fold in my excitement; finding out about this new black superhero that I didn’t grow up knowing about and because I’m a huge supporter of all of my peers and friends and I went to college with Simone Missick who plays Misty, so that was part of the reason I was ecstatic with coming in. I’m definitely not going to miss this. I missed [Luke Cage season 1] the first night it dropped because Netflix broke but I definitely tuned in for all of the episodes and thoroughly enjoyed them.

JE – I did not know you went to college with her. Did you hang out during your college years?

GD – We knew each other. We had mutual friends. She was a theater major and there was a project we worked on one time together but it was a brief one night situation. We definitely had mutual friends. I think we had a couple of Thanksgivings together. She’s been to my house for cookouts. I’ve been to her house for New Year’s parties. We ride in the same circle of girlfriends. It’s always exciting to support one another.

JE – Yeah! I love the fact that the entire cast is so strong. We are getting the addition of Mr. Shakir who plays Bushmaster, a very underrated super-villain in the Marvel pantheon. How was the time on set with him?

GD – It was great! Mustafa is another amazing human being. He is almost a superhero in his own right. Such a real person. He is super fit. He eats really healthy. He is a vegan. He is very conscious and aware of things that are going on in the world. He is a very kindhearted person and he is really great in this roll. He is a little creepy and scary and can be intimidating. In our very first scene together he was freaking me out a little bit. He does such a great job of maintaining his accent in this series and his action is really good. His performance is really amazing. Cheo and the writers have done such a great job. Like you said, he was so underrated in the comic book world but he makes up for it in this. He is definitely a villain that people are going to root for. At the core of his villainous ways he is doing things for the better good in his mind. He is not a villain for the sake of killing people and causing chaos. He is doing it to protect his legacy and people. At the core of that he has a true purpose, it’s just the way he goes about it is a little scary.

JE – This new season of Luke Cage will be dropping on Friday, June 22nd on Netflix. If you can, tell us a little bit about what we can expect from your character, Tilda Johnson, and her relationship with Alfre Woodard’s character, Mariah Dillard.

GD – The latest trailer just dropped today which reveals that we are mother and daughter and there are a lot of twists and turns going on there. It is obvious that I don’t really trust her and I think people will get to go on this journey of this woman who is just trying to live her life and stay on the straight and narrow path and do what is right. She is a holistic doctor and a very forgiving and caring person. She loves to help others and it seems like the bad people keep showing up at her door. She can’t escape finding the trouble that surrounds her. That’s what happens when you are in bed with the likes of Mariah Dillard. She’s got seedy characters around her so eventually she will find herself in situations she really wishes she hadn’t. I think the journey of this is going to be very interesting. There are going to be a lot of twists and turns that people won’t see coming which is actually what excites me most when I watch the series. I just finished it this past weekend and I’m ready to watch it again to see the things I might have missed. Even having been a part of the series and watched it, I can be fooled by the direction I think they are going with something and then they completely twist it on its heels. That’s what I’m most excited about, people being surprised and being on the edge of their seats for all 13 episodes. Even Cheo says that this season is stronger than season one. I think it’s going to exceed expectation and fans are going to be overjoyed by the work we put in. I’m very proud of what we’ve done and it looks really good!


JE – That’s exciting because season one set the bar very high. If season two can top that it will be a very impressive feat.

Before I let you go, I know you also do stand-up and write and perform sketch comedy. Who are a couple people that inspire you in the comedic circles? Who makes you laugh and who do you take inspiration from when you are writing and doing your stand-up?

GD – I find most of my inspiration usually in my close circle. I haven’t been on stage in quite a while because this acting thing has really taken off for me! A lot of comedians that I was running in circles with, I find inspiration from them. They are so brilliant and so funny and the amount of work that goes into performing stand-up…I don’t think people understand that it is extremely hard and time-consuming. When I used to be out in the comedy clubs, Tiffany Haddish was there before me and she is still there now holding it strong, and she is just an inspiration and one of the people in my peer circle who has risen above and beyond and she is really doing it and it is inspiring that she has stayed true to herself this entire time. In comedy, it is all about the truth and the best and the strongest comedians stay true to themselves and find the humor in whatever that truth is, especially when it involves pain and darkness. When they can flip that on its head and find the funny in that, yeah, that’s the goal right there.

JE – Very cool! Gabrielle Dennis is Tilda Johnson in ‘Luke Cage’ season two dropping on Netflix, June 22nd. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/GabrielleDennis

Thank you so much for you time today!

GD – Thank you!

Make sure to keep up with Gabrielle and the rest of this sensational cast as Luke Cage hits the streets of Harlem once more on Netflix this coming Friday!!