By Laurie Coker

Rating: C

Ferdinand is a great deal of bull. Even with voice talent as varied as the bulls in the yard, the picture book turned animated feature, Ferdinand, fails to please audience members over the age of six or seven. There just isn’t much meat on the bones of the story. The pretty animation does not help lift Ferdinand above the stock themes and simple plot, but it does keep little ones engaged. Read more »


By Laurie Coker

Rating: A-

Keeping pace with a giant is no easy task and saying that the Star Wars franchise is a giant underestimates it. Watching the most recent in the series – Star Wars: The Last Jedi – not only demonstrates how far movie-making has come, it further seats George Lucas as the master of sci-fi illusion so many years ago. Last Jedi demonstrates CGI imagery at its finest, but it also allows us to reflect on what Lucas did to achieve with models and puppetry. In the hands of Disney and writer-director Rian Johnson, the world first imagined decades ago soars. Read more »


By Mark Saldana

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

The Star Wars saga continues and this time, in the hands of talented writer/director Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom, Looper)  The acclaimed filmmaker takes the reigns of the beloved space opera franchise from J.J. Abrams (who helmed previous installment The Force Awakens) and launches the current story arc into exciting territories.  Johnson’s The Last Jedi goes deep into the spiritual and philosophical conflict between the light and dark sides of the Force and also tackles the personal struggles within the key members of the Resistance.  The resulting movie is an intense, thrilling, and emotional journey that ambitiously covers a tremendous amount of ground and is almost perfect. Read more »

Austin Film Festival 2017 Review: DARKEST HOUR

By Liz Lopez

Rating: B+

Despite remarks made by others about multiple Winston Churchill or Dunkirk related films that have been released, this year director Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” and Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour” relates a part of history with a different story and each has value. I viewed the highly successful “Dunkirk” twice in the theaters earlier this year with the impressive script, performances and visuals, despite my incomplete knowledge of the history. This year’s Austin Film Festival (AFF) featured “Darkest Hour” from director Joe Wright, based on the screenplay by Anthony McCarten (“The Theory of Everything”). Although film fans may decide to not view another “war” film, “Darkest Hour” is so much more than that. Churchill stepped up to lead the British government as Prime Minister in the early 40s during wartime although he was not his party’s first choice, replacing Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup). Not only does the film focus on the actions he took during his term, but the audience also learns more through scenes of his private life, showing us how human he was when he doubted himself and dealt with depression. This screenplay is elevated by Gary Oldman’s award worthy performance as Winston Churchill, transformed by excellent make up work by Kazuhiro Tsuji to where he is unrecognizable at the onset. If anyone thinks viewing past photos or recordings of the historical figure is enough, Oldman’s portrayal of Churchill should not be missed for all he brings to the role. Read more »


By Renee’ C.

Rating: 4.5 (Out of 5 Reels)

Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey (Daisy Ridley) joins Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) on an adventure with Leia (Carrie Fisher), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past (IMDB).

To say that I am a science-fiction junkie is an understatement. I have loved this genre of films since I was very young. I have seen every Star Wars film and was waiting with a heightened anticipation for this installment. That anticipation was because the last two films in this franchise have been absolutely fantastic. I am not afraid to admit that I believe these films are better because George Lucas was not involved. Read more »