Purple Hearts is a mixed bag romance movie.

Despite their differences and against all odds, an aspiring singer-songwriter and a soldier fall hopelessly in love.

Part of the reason why it’s so hard to review these types of Netflix movies is because they all start to blend in with one another. Purple Hearts is no exception, outside of Sofia Carson who is really trying with such a limited script to make this work, a few of the songs she sings which I have to say are pretty decent and a few moments that actually are strong enough to stand on their own. The movie feels like an extended Nicholas Sparks movie despite not being one, I have no idea why this is 2 hours and 2 minutes long because a lot of these scenes could have easily been trimmed down. The writing starts out as a trainwreck throwing a bunch of liberal and conservative stereotypes that at one point become unintentionally funny, the writing definitely gets a lot better as it goes on and actually explores Cassie’s (Sofia Carson) and Luke’s (Nicholas Galitzine) relationship. The plot goes exactly how you think it’s going to go, it’s pretty much everything you have seen before in a very mixed bag of a movie.

Purple Hearts is available on Netflix.

5/10 C

Zombies 3 is dead on arrival.

Zed anticipates an athletic scholarship while Addison gears up for Seabrook’s first international cheer-off. Then suddenly, extraterrestrial beings arrive in Seabrook, provoking something other than friendly competition.

I guess one of the more interesting things about Zombies 3 is that it got the Disney+ upgrade treatment, for those that don’t know the previous two movies Zombies and Zombies 2 were Disney Channel Original Movies. And while the movie at times does seem like it still has a made for TV aura to it, there definitely is the noticeable upgrade changes (mostly the songs that were surprisingly catchy). However like the two previous movies unless you are a die hard fan this is going to be more or less be the same thing, the characters are still not investing and the jokes are just not funny, as I said earlier the only fun moments are the songs which even then are something I will probably never look back at.

Zombies 3 is available on Disney+

2/10 F

Beauty has a great message but is poorly executed.

A young singer on the brink of a promising career finds herself torn between a domineering family, industry pressures and her love for her girlfriend.

I very much agree with what Beauty is trying to say and it’s message, being that the music industry can treat singers horribly and some experiences are flat out terrible. The issue is how the movie goes about telling the viewer about it, Niecy Nash and the cast are great in their roles but none of the characters are given any interesting character growth. Leading to writing which is very minimal and not much to work with, the family drama bit while well acted is very by the numbers we have seen before in other success stories, you have the dad who wants to use his daughter and the mother who’s hard their daughter but is still caring. Even the main character played by Niecy Nash isn’t given any development at all, plus there’s a lot of editing decisions that come completely out of left field and don’t match the tone of the movie at all. Overall there’s definitely some good ideas in Beauty it’s just not happening unfortunately.

Beauty is available on Netflix

4/10 D+

Elvis captures the legacy of the iconic singer Elvis Presley!

The film explores the life and music of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler), seen through the prism of his complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). The story delves into the complex dynamic between Presley and Parker spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America. Central to that journey is one of the most significant and influential people in Elvis’s life, Priscilla Presley (Olivia DeJonge).

Baz Luhrman definitely does his thing with Elvis and it really works here, for starters let’s start with elephant in the room Austin Butler as Elvis was an incredible casting decision that led to incredible results. From the way he talked, moved and sung Butler completely transforms into Elvis to the point where it almost felt like you were watching Elvis. Butler does this at the age of 30 taking on such a huge role of being a highly regarded singer and masterfully perfecting the role is truly fantastic, the amount of styles Baz Luhrman includes is pretty insane but a very nice welcome as well, he does tend to do this with most of his films and while I do understand the argument how it can be annoying or sometimes breaks the movie. In this case it was very necessary when you make a film about Elvis you should definitely try to make something interesting and capture the spirit of his legacy. That’s what Luhrman did here, from the performances and dancing he really paints an interesting picture. There’s a lot of fast editing that makes a scene where it focuses on Elvis’s sex appeal really standout mostly due to how insane it really is, there’s plenty of more scenes like that as well! The supporting cast such as Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kelvin Harrison Jr and Helen Thomson were also pretty solid! There’s only two major flaws with the film the first one being the 2 hour and 39 minute running time, while I do get it was trying to tell as much about Elvis as possible, there is some stuff in here that was admittedly extra fluff that didn’t need to be included. But at the very least the movie does keep things entertaining and the running time does go by relatively quickly. The second flaw being mostly Tom Hanks, I’m not entirely sure if Tom Parker being used as the narrative device was very successful (Hank’s accent is very very strange). Luhrman makes sure to lay it on you of how scummy of a person Parker was and he’s pretty successful at doing that, overall Elvis is a really solid film that definitely strays far away from the usual biopic film, mostly due to just how transformative Austin Butler’s performance is and Baz Luhrman’s stylistic choices!

Elvis is currently in theaters!

8/10 B+

Hollywood Stargirl outsings it’s predecessor!

Stargirl goes on a journey out of Mica and into a world of music, dreams and possibility.

Hollywood Stargirl is sequel to Stargirl (2020), Stargirl (2020) was a decent enough but it did feel like a Disney channel original movie. However Hollywood Stargirl is a huge improvement sure there isn’t anything that drastically changes but it’s the little things that really help this movie. For one thing Grace Vanderhaal’s performance this time around is an improvement, while I definitely think she wasn’t bad in the previous movie she wasn’t given enough to work with due to the script. Luckily here she’s given a lot more breathing room and is able to show a lot more of her talent, Tyler Jackson Williams gives a strong performance plus the rest of the cast do a great job as well (always great seeing Uma Thurman). A lot of the Disney channel original movie feel from the first movie is gone in this movie, sure there’s a few moments that do feel like it but those are very far and few in between. Once again Vanderhaal sings beautiful and truly shows her talent with her powerful singing voice, the story is charming and actually pretty relaxing as well. It’s a sweet little movie that knows what it wants to be, it’s a very likable movie that has a wonderful cast and a lot of strong writing bits that work quite well. Overall Hollywood Stargirl might not have too much meat on it’s bones, but it’s enough to bring interest from the viewer and entertain an audience with some great acting, music and writing.

Hollywood Stargirl is available on Disney+

7/10 B

Quick Reviews: Torn Hearts and Dakota (2022)

Follows a country music duo who seek out the private mansion of their idol and end up in a twisted series of horrors that force them to confront the limits they’d go for their dreams.

Torn Hearts mostly works due to the cast that are genuinely really great Katey Sagal, Abby Quinn and Alexxis Lemire all give performances that are far better than you would expect. Plus the idea of a country horror/thriller movie is a pretty interesting one, as far as execution it doesn’t quite reach it’s full potential. The music is quite great and matches the tone of the movie quite well, but the script leaves a lot more to be desired as it does end up being fairly predictable and holds back a bit. Luckily it does remain entertaining especially with Bea Grant’s direction that is definitely a huge step up from “12 Hour Shift”.

Torn Hearts is available on all VOD Platforms.

6/10 C+

A woman and her daughter find warmth and companionship when her late husband’s combat dog comes to live on their farm. However, they must soon band together when a corrupt sheriff does whatever it takes to get his hands on the family’s land.

This is the third movie this year to feature a dog that was once an ex military/police service dog or tries to become a military/police dog. And it’s the weakest one, at least Dog and Rescued By Ruby had some charm to them at times and some decent acting (for the most part) to back them up, Dakota however does not have any memorable performances that stick out. The writing is pretty much a beat by beat story of these types of movies and the direction has no substance to it at all, there’s a couple cute moments with the dog and Lola Sultan is very charming but that’s not nearly enough to save this movie from being disposable.

Dakota is available on all VOD Platforms.

2/10 F

Sneakerella is another lame Cinderella Story.

El, an aspiring sneaker designer from Queens, works as a stock boy in a shoe store and hides his artistic talent. Sparks fly after a chance encounter with Kira King, the daughter of sneaker royalty and a Manhattan Princess Charming of sorts. With a nudge from his best friend and a touch of magic, El finds the courage to lace up and dream big.

I’ll give Sneakerella this it wasn’t AS bad as I expected but that doesn’t make it a good movie (far from it), but the positives are mostly the acting from Chosen Jacobs, Lexi Underwood and Juan Chioran (who gets underutilized), the singing voices are pretty strong particularly the 3 I just mentioned have great singing voices and the choreography is actually pretty well done. There’s some genuine good moments during the singing segments as well as dancing segments that are touching. What completely hurts this movie however is the fact it’s a Cinderella story, this is the type of movie that did not need to be a Cinderella story. I think this would have largely benefited if it was it’s own thing and it did some changing around, granted they did change a few things from the typical Cinderella story but it wasn’t enough to warrant doing another one. Especially when we just had James Corden as a mouse last year, as far as the rest of the movie goes if you have seen Cinderella before you have already seen this one. Once again Sneakerella is yet another Disney+ movie that feels like a Disney Channel Original Movie except with a slightly higher budget, had Sneakerella been a dance movie something similar to Step Up for example and changed the plot around as well as the writing. This could have been something at least passable but as it stands it’s yet another Cinderella Story that will be quickly forgotten about. Sneakerella isn’t horrendous it’s just very forgettable, it might be a good watch for kids but for everyone else don’t bother.

Sneakerella is available on Disney+

4/10 D+

Better Nate Than Ever is harmless but doesn’t offer anything new.

Thirteen year old Nate Foster fantasizes about becoming a Broadway star. However, he struggles to even get roles in his high school play. When Nate’s parents leave for the weekend, he and his friends decide to make Nate a star.

Better Nate Than Ever is another case of a Disney Channel original movie disguised as a Disney+ Original. While it’s definitely not bad and overall pretty harmless, the plot is just way too generic and plays out exactly how you think it’s going to. The cast is at least decent giving some pretty entertaining performances as well as Rueby Wood’s singing which is honestly not bad, but do not go in expecting a musical. There’s only about 4 songs all of which are pretty solid in their own right, it’s just calling this a musical is a bit of a stretch. The main criticism comes down to the plot being really nothing special as well as some of the jokes, there’s a few jokes that might get a chuckle out of you. However there’s a ton of jokes that really make you question “who thought this was a good idea?” As far as the plot it’s very basic family movie stuff that feels a bit too familiar. Better Nate Than Ever is definitely better than expected but it’s not something I would recommend watching.

Better Nate Than Ever is available on Disney+

5/10 C

Olivia Rodrigo: Driving Home 2 U (A Sour Film) is a entertaining and well crafted film on Olivia Rodrigo’s music!

Singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo takes a familiar road trip from Salt Lake City, where she began writing her debut album ‘SOUR’, to Los Angeles. Along the way, Rodrigo recounts the memories of writing and creating her record-breaking debut album.

Watching Olivia Rodrigo’s career quickly skyrocket and transform has only been and will still continue to be a beautiful site. There isn’t a whole lot to be said here as it is another one of those films where it plays out like a concert film, however what makes Driving home 2 u so successful is Rodrigo’s personality, the journey that’s being taken place in the film and how it’s honestly just beautifully made. It feels like a personal film from Olivia Rodrigo, she gives her opinions on each of her songs and what she liked or disliked about them. Plus giving some more context of each of the songs which is always nice, the songs are well done and the filming is quite beautiful as well particularly Brutal which was only thought of in one day but went on to be a huge favorite from audiences and fans (myself included). Lastly what really helps with this film is Olivia Rodrigo herself, she comes off as a genuine person which the same can’t be said for a lot of other celebrities, in this case it feels like you are actually learning a bit more about her which is truly a breath of fresh air. If you are a fan of Olivia Rodrigo this is definitely something worth watching and if you are someone who wants a great introduction to her this is honestly the best way to start.

Olivia Rodrigo: driving home 2 u (A Sour Film) is available on Disney+

9/10 A

SXSW Review: Seriously Red (2022)

A realtor pursues a new career as a Dolly Parton impersonator.

Seriously Red is a blast of a film, there’s so much to the film that creates such a humorous picture. The cast are absolutely incredible Rose Byrne as an Elvis Impersonator and Krew Boylan as an Dolly Parton impersonator in particular are very strong here, they both do such a fantastic job and really nail the impersonations in both a beautiful and hilarious way. The music is top notch it’s a huge celebration of several different music artists and really captures why people love them so much, Gracie Otto’s direction is brilliant she really did a fantastic job of creating the most musical like atmosphere you can think of. What truly makes this great is how much fun the movie is and how much fun it has with itself, it knows what it’s sent out to do and accomplishes just that beautifully. There’s a few jokes that don’t completely land but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives in this case! If you are fan of any of music in general this is something you might like!

Seriously Red currently has no release date.

8/10 B+