SONIC THE HEDGEHOG
Sonic was a powerful super-sonic alien hedgehog who sought refuge on Earth when bad guys on his home planet wanted to capture him.
For 10 years, he hid out alone in Green Hills, Montana.
One night, Sonic caused an electromagnetic pulse that triggered a massive power outage. The government called on the eccentric genius Dr. Robotnik to contain the source of the electrical surge.
Sonic, along with his favorite human, local sheriff Tom Wachowski, make a road trip to San Francisco to retrieve his bag of rings which could create portals to help him escape to another planet.
I only knew Sonic as a Sega video game character but I never really played any Sonic video game. But the Sonic in this film was really cute, easily likable and very delightful in his antics, as he wished to complete his own bucket list of human things for him to do with the help of Tom, who was played by an uncharacteristically un-serious James Marsden (whose most famous character Cyclops barely even smiled).
The main comic highlight was Jim Carrey reprising another snide slapstick character Dr. Robotnik, like those he famously brought to life in the beginning of his career, such as "Ace Ventura Pet Detective" and "The Mask."
The two after-credit scenes brought back more video game nostalgia and promised an entertaining sequel.
THE NIGHT CLERK
Bart was a 23 year-old man who had high-functioning Asperger's syndrome living with his mom who worked in the front desk of a hotel.
To learn speech patterns and behavior of "normal" people, Bart surreptitiously took videos of guests via cameras he hid in their rooms. One night, he witnessed a murder of a female guest in the hands of a man with whom she was having a secret affair.
Police detective Espada felt that Bart was not being on the level. Meanwhile, Bart noted that Andrea, a female guest he liked and became close with, may also be in danger.
The most remarkable aspect of this quiet creepy voyeuristic film were the performances of its lead actors, Tye Sheridan as Bart and Ana de Armas as Andrea.
Sheridan, in a complete turn-around from his hyper character in "Ready Player One," was convincing as someone within the autistic spectrum, with his little odd mannerisms and repetitive verbal tics coming off very naturally.
Ana de Armas, who I just knew from her recent role in the winning ensemble of "Knives Out," was mysterious and beguiling. Their tender interactions lifted the film from the limitations of the weak script.
Long absent ‘90s star Helen Hunt played Bart's protective mom Ethel, while John Leguizamo played the suspicious Detective Espada.
IP MAN 4: THE FINALE
Master Ip traveled to San Francisco, California to find a school for his rebellious son. For this he needed a letter of endorsement from the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association.
However, association president Mr. Wan was reluctant to give him that letter because of his displeasure with the attitudes of Bruce Lee, Ip's celebrated student who was then teaching Chinese martial arts to Americans.
Meanwhile, Master Ip also tried to help US Marine Corps staff sergeant Hartman Wu to integrate Chinese martial arts into their training program, but met severe resistance from his sadistic superior, gunnery Sgt. Geddes, who believed karate was superior.
For this final installment, the Master was on a fictional trip to the US, where he joined the fight for rights of Chinese immigrants and respect for Chinese culture, specifically martial arts.
Donnie Yen's performance as Master Yip was as serene as ever, and his elegant Wing Chun fighting skills were still the main draw of this film.
Danny Chan's portrayal of superstar Bruce Lee was magnetic. Vanness Wu, once famed for his long hair as part of the F4, now sported a very close-cropped military haircut for his role as a Marine staff sergeant.
However, Scott Adkin's portrayal of insultingly bad American soldier Geddes was one-dimensional and downright caricaturish.
This review was originally published in the author's blog "Fred Said."