Top Gun Maverick Review


As the sun rises and the planes start to rev their engines, the opening salvo of summer blockbuster entertainment is launched with Top Gun Maverick. I felt I had to fasten my seatbelt as soon as the opening sequence began.

Thirty-six years in the making, Tom Cruise is back as Captain Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell. Cruise’s performance is reminiscent of the first film, and the game of planes and dog fights in the sky are taken to new horizons. Top Gun Maverick is nostalgic and carries on the legacy of that first film.

Tom Cruise is definitely one of the main draw making Top Gun Maverick spellbinding, but it has a lot more going for it. The Kenny Loggins theme song, “Danger Zone”, always sets my mindset for an exciting Top Gunexperience. The music in the film fades in and out in smooth transitions, cuing the audience as the action moments begin. Director Joseph Kosinski knows how to continue the traits of what Tony Scott created, bringing the important pieces to mesmerizing new levels. The continued franchise has similar lighting and cinematography, so fans will feel they are back in the 80s with all the unforgettable moments of what makes Top Gun exciting.

The plot starts with Cruise as Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell in his own world, doing his own types of flying and working with his own planes. But his skills are still needed, and he is recruited by Adm. Beau ‘Cyclone’ Simpson to train new pilots that are stepping into the game. Among the pilots there are many new faces, including Lt. Natasha ‘Phoenix’ Trace, played by Monica Barbaro, Lt. Robert ‘Bob’ Floyd, played by Lewis Pullman, Lt. Jake ‘Hangman’ Seresin, played by Glen Powell, and more.

But the rookie who poses the biggest challenge for Maverick is Lt. Bradley ‘Rooster’ Bradshaw, played by Miles Teller. Rooster is the son of ‘Goose’, played by Anthony Edwards, who died in the first film. The last thing Maverick wants to do is put ‘Rooster’ in danger, but there is the quote in the film that, “It’s not the plane, it’s the pilot,”. Rooster is determined to be the man he saw his father to be, and to continue the legacy that Maverick and the others created back in the day. The heat of competition rises and it becomes the adventure of a lifetime, an epic ride of trial and terror.

But Top Gun Maverick is not all life and death. Cruise also starts a relationship with Penny Benjamin, played by Jennifer Connolly.

It was the adventures in Top Gun Maverick that left me breathless, though, especially with seeing it in the premium format of Dolby Atmos, a high-end technology that allows you feel the sound and fully experience the heat of the moments. The mission is complex, the skies are ready, and Top Gun Maverick is the opening excitement of summer blockbuster entertainment. The film is triumphant, mesmerizing, and daring. Top Gun Maverick is simply a knockout cinematic experience. Four stars for Top Gun Maverick.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie Review


When there is a long-standing television series with a big fan base, it often gets a movie adaptation just to bring in the die-hard fans. The Bob’s Burgers Movie is a sort of refresher to the series, almost like three TV episodes turned into one movie, and it will no doubt appeal to those fans. I’m not a die hard fan, and although I’ve watched the series on and off for years, I found the film to be just alright.

The setup to The Bob’s Burgers Movie is that the Belcher family finds themselves in a bankruptcy crisis, and there is also an enormous hole right in front of the restaurant’s entrance. Bob and Linda Belcher, voiced by H. Jon Benjamin and John Roberts, are running out of time to help keep their business running. As the crisis gets even more brutal with other catastrophes, their children, Tina, Louise, and Gene, voiced by Dan Mintz, Kristen Schaal, and Eugene Mirman, try to find ways to save their parents’ restaurant. All the humor and voices the fans love is in one film and, again, I’m sure they will find the movie full of laughs. But I found it to be relatively uneventful.

Throughout the film, there are one-liners and hidden gems that fans will relate to and remember right away. That is, again, why they make a film based on a TV show into a full-feature film—and to of course try to grow the fan base. The Bob’s Burgers Movie has some irreverent and witty tangents, and I admit I laughed periodically. But I was just not really sold on this one.

Don’t get me wrong, The Bob’s Burgers Movie is not ridiculous, and it is not horrible. I will just say that my experience was basically neutral—and that’s not what I want when I go to the movie theater. Some may find it a fun ride, harmless joyful entertainment, or something to lighten the mood. I feel that, for this film, I could have enjoyed it more at home than the cinema. I may decide to give it another shot and see if it strikes me better the second time around, but probably not. Two and a half stars for The Bob’s Burgers Movie.

Chicago Critics Film Festival: Cha Cha Real Smooth Review


A new up and coming actor and director, Cooper Raiff, has created a masterpiece which is both charming inspirational. Cha Cha Real Smooth is upbeat and marvelous on many levels. Raiff plays the lead role and presents his character in the most faithful and honest way depicting how life today has its challenges. Cha Cha Real Smooth received much positive press at the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, and was the opening premiere of the Chicago Critics Film Festival. I attended the Chicago premiere and was touched by its meaningful message. As an individual on the spectrum, and an advocate for an Autism foundation, Cha Cha Real Smooth touched my heart and I know it will touch others too.

The subject of autism today is a growing trend and is still evolving. The aspect of Cha Cha Real Smooth which spoke most to me most involved being a role model. Raiff plays that role model for someone on the spectrum along with others in his life. Despite his own errors, he finds meaning in what he can do to inspire others with his attitude. Cha Cha Real Smooth is invigorating as it inspires people to find what they are passionate about. Throughout the film, there are moments illustratingsadness, feeling lost, or just needing a friend. I found the most important scenario in Cha Cha Real Smooth was when Raiff’s character realizes that he is not alone with his struggles. Not only can he relate to others who are also struggling, but he can help them grow and develop better self-esteem.

In Cha Cha Real Smooth, Raiff is Andrew, a young man still trying to find his footsteps while living back at his family’shome and trying to get back on his feet. He is someone that displays a freeloader attitude and has little to no motivation. That all changes at a Bar Mitzvah party. He meets Domino (played by Dakota Johnson), an introverted mother devoted to her autistic daughter. Lola (played by Vanessa Burghardt.) They build a friendship, and he becomes close with Domino and Lola. Lola starts to come out of her shell and Andrew starts to find himself to being open to serving as a role model to Lola and his own brother David (played by Evan Assante.) Andrew begins to experience more positive changes around him because he is encouraging David, Lola, and Domino. For once in David’s life, he feels he can be the guy that others go to for encouragement. He also tries to build a better relationship with his mother(played by Leslie Mann) and his stepdad (played by Brad Garrett.). Cha Cha Real Smooth is filled with many wonderful scenes and realizations that are both triumphant and mesmerizing. I have not felt more touched by a film in quite a long while.

Burghardt plays her role faithfully as someone on the autism spectrum. She has the shy mindset, the habits of routine, and mixed attitudes that some may find difficult to interpret. She presents them in a polite and concise way. When she is frustrated or socially overwhelmed, she says, “I do not mean to be brutal.” This reminded me of how many people on the spectrum struggle in social situations. Burghardt delivers a stellar performance starring as an individual on the spectrum. The film’s relationships between Andrew, Lola, Domino, and David involve transformational moments for everyone involved.Every single person has their own unique struggles. Andrewappears stuck-up at first, but then comes to realize that the people around him matter most. Cha Cha Real Smooth reminded me that even when I am angry or annoyed at issues with my life, that it is not the end of the world. We all need reassurance sometimes. And when that reassurance comes from those who love us the most, it is especially valuable.

Cha Cha Real Smooth is a film that will make viewers laugh, cry, and feel touched. After watching it, I felt somewhat emotional because of how much Raiff’s performance reminded me of myself. I sometimes get impatient when the things I hope for don’t happen overnight which is perfectly normal. The film also provided a strong reminder that we can always find ways to help others who are struggling. I believe in being an advocate, and Raiff’s performance is a strong example of advocating for those who need some help getting back on their feet. Cha ChaReal Smooth inspired me to keep pursuing my craft as well as to be there for others. Four stars for Cha Cha Real Smooth.

Treating cinema in many forms of art!

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