Friday, June 16, 2023

'Flash' flashes; 'Elemental' burns out welcome; Yogi still hits in 'Over'

So, here comes another superhero film in the not-so-familiar form of "The Flash," just what many of us might need to keep the summer movie season always trying to hit its expected stride. Yeah, right, you say? 

Well, just know that this latest Justice League entry soars from the start with a literal "baby shower" event before ultimately slowing a bit down a lengthy final stretch that enjoys one last -- of many -- surprise cameos.

Troubled actor Ezra Miller (off screen at least) plays the title character, aka Barry Allen, with speed, laughs and even some gravitas while time-traveling through an assortment of now-necessary multiverses to keep the comic-book crowd happy. The flashbang experience also allows Allen to meet a younger version of himself, thus adding a little emotional heft to proceedings that include a fine turn from Michael Keaton, as a wiser, older version of his original movie "Batman" and wealthy alter ego Bruce Wayne.

Other familiar forms of superheroes hop through the crowded fray, too, though perhaps not all as successfully as a few of Barry's Caped Crusader friends do. Regardless, this popcorn film seriously belongs to Miller who, with director Andy Muschietti (of "It" films fame), proves again that speed really can kill.

Rated "PG-13" by MPAA: sequences of violence and action; some strong language, and partial nudity; 2:35; $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

Considering the extraordinary achievements of Pixar in the field of animated movie entertainment even before being bought out by Disney, the rather lame "Elemental" plays like the trailblazing company's weakest warm-weather entry in years.

Quite simply, a tough girl made of fire (voiced by TV actress Leah Lewis) somehow falls for a nerdy water inspector (Mamoudou Athie, most notably from the last "Jurassic World" film), and we're expected to buy her Cinder Lumen and his Wade Ripple as the latest reincarnation of Romeo and Juliet for the big screen.

The family names and an assortment of other word plays from a trio of sitcom scribes-turned first-time screenwriters actually might keep adults entertained. Meanwhile, if kids do not really enjoy the colorful sights and sounds of Element City, where a lot of hot air resides, they likely will resort to much twisting, turning and trips to the rest room.

At least the Pixar cartoon short that precedes the main feature should keep everyone happy with a sweet kind of dog-walks-man story. It's called "Carl's Date" and features characters from the 14-year-old, Oscar-winning feature, "Up." Those would be good ol' Carl Fredricksen (the ever-recognizable tones of the late Ed Asner) and his talking canine, Dug (voiced by writer/director Bob Petersen). Now that's Pixar at its charming best.

Rated "PG" by MPAA: with some peril, thematic elements, and very brief language; 1:42; $ $ and 1/2 out of $5

Last but definitely not least today, all-time baseball great Yogi Berra lights up the screen in "It Ain't Over," by simply being a nice guy and, believe it or not, one of the most quoted personalities in "Bartlett's Familiar Quotations."

In fact, the mostly funny "Yogi-isms" made extraordinarily famous by the New York Yankees' Hall of Fame catcher and hitter, are why the three-time American League Most Valuable Player and 10-time World Series champion is not always considered one of the best major leaguers of all time.

Certainly, those of us old enough to remember Berra clobbering oh-so-many bad pitches for home runs, especially against our beloved Cleveland Indians back in the day, might argue solidly on the late, great, and gentle Yogi's behalf, no matter how much we hated those other damn Yankees.

In the documentary about his teeming life and family and career, so too do an assortment of celebrities -- from Lindsey Berra, the narrator/executive producer of the film and the oldest of his 11 grandchildren, to comic/actor Billy Crystal to loads of teammates, fellow all-stars, and baseball-related talking heads.

Fans of America's favorite pastime will find director/writer Sean Mullin's doc to be a legitimate, fast-moving treat. Everyone else might call it eye-opening. Ater all, as wiseman Yogi apparently once said, "You can see a lot by watching."

Rated "PG" by MPAA: smoking, some drug references, language, and brief war images; 1:38; $ $ $ $ out of $5

("It Ain't Over" opens today, exclusively in northeast Ohio, at the Cedar Lee Theater. It is also available on various VOD outlets.)

Also new today in theaters: "The Blackening" and "Maggie Moore(s). Streaming only: "Extraction 2"  (Netflix), "Jagged Mind," (Hulu), "Stan Lee" (Disney+), and "Midnight Black Midnight Blue" (VOD).

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